The clock is racing as you try to hit all your targets. If you don't score this time, you might be toast. But, if you do bring it home, you might make this month's leaderboard.
A teenager battling the alien onslaught in the hit video game Halo? Perhaps. But, according to hosted CRM provider Entellium, this description could also apply to a salesperson using their latest customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Rave.
Using what it calls "Gamer-Influenced Design," the Seattle, Washington-based company has tried to liven up what is otherwise fun-challenged CRM software with "visually compelling gaming design technique."
Gamers and Sales Pros
"After doing a great deal of research," said Entellium President and CEO Paul Johnston, "we found that gamers and sales professionals are remarkably similar. Both play against the clock, both score points and both require a play-to-win mentality to succeed."
Most business software, Johnston said, is designed around "use-case" scenarios, meaning with a focus on how users will interact with the software in order to meet various business requirements. But gaming, he pointed out, is "built around teaching you how to quickly learn exactly what you need to win."
The "Eureka" turning point, Johnston said, was when he was watching his son play "Call of Duty" on Xbox Live, the online gaming service. "I was astonished that he learned almost immediately what he wanted to do." Many videogames are harder to master than business software, he said, and yet, people are able to master the games quickly.
The company said it has performed about 60,000 hours of research and user testing to develop Rave, and has hired several people from game companies. The result, said Jared Ruckle, the Director of Product Marketing, is a CRM application that is rewarding and challenging partly because it provides instant gratification and competition with peers.
Ruckle noted that the average age of their CRM customers, 31, overlays almost exactly with what the Entertainment Software Association said is the average age for gamers--33.
But don't expect to blast aliens and leap over mountains on your way to making this month's sales figures. The game-influenced techniques are more subtle, although similarly intended to give what Johnston called "a pleasurable experience."
A downloadable application designed for small and medium-sized businesses, Rave can be used offline or in sync with others online. Your leads are ranked with a system of stars, based on your criteria and probability calculations. Activity Maps offer visually intuitive ways to manage activity with a client, instead of a tabular, grid-based view. RSS feeds deliver news relevant to each prospect.
And the water cooler conversation at the offices of Entellium's customers could soon turn to the sales staff's relative positions on Rave's leaderboard, an update planned for this summer. "It will look like the one in Halo," said Ruckle. Salespeople's scores and rankings will be posted online, and can be gauged against aggregate information from that industry.
CEO Johnston said that, unlike many other CRM packages, users feel comfortable updating information and trying alternatives in Rave, without worrying that their manager is constantly monitoring every change. "You don't commit yourself to your data," he said, "until you sync it online."
In other words, you declare your score when you're ready. Perhaps, someday, a CRM package like Rave will return the favor and teach such civilized behavior to frantically-paced videogames.