Redmond just made an interesting acquisition on the customer relationship management (CRM) front. Microsoft has snapped up Incent Games, the developer of FantasySalesTeam.
FantasySalesTeam is a sales gamification platform that works to boost sales productivity, drive revenue and improve CRM adoption through collaboration and team-based competition. Bob Stutz, corporate vice president at Microsoft Dynamics, said the benefits will soon be available to Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers who want to give sales teams incentives to drive stronger results.
“While incentive programs and contests are leveraged in almost all sales organizations, most suffer from common shortcomings: the same top performers almost always win and the rest of the team tends to disengage fairly quickly once they realize they’ve fallen behind or out of contention,” Stutz said, noting FantasySalesTeam addresses these issues with a tailored approach.
Incent Games has disrupted the old sales incentive model with an original approach that combines gamification with fantasy sports and applies it to a sales setting, according to Stutz. He described the platform as “highly effective at increasing team collaboration, productivity and consequently driving greater results and business growth.”
Here’s how it works: Through team-based competition and engagement from non-sales personnel -- such as managers, service, operations, marketing and finance workers -- employees “draft” teams and become invested in each other’s successes. Individual and team results are visible to the entire company, stimulating competition and collaboration to drive cultural change.
Stutz said there’s nothing like FantasySalesTeam on the market and he expects it to revolutionize team building in the sales setting. There are case studies to back up his claims. Service Corporation International ran a pilot with 130 sales reps and compared their performance to about 700 others. Workers using FantasySalesTeam on average closed 88 percent more deals at 213 percent the average contract value.
And Service Corporation International's results were not a fluke. Wireless Zone realized a 176 percent increase in total sales, 35 percent increase in specific product sales and a 9 percent increase in profit in the first month the company ran FantasySalesTeam. Microsoft plans to integrate this technology into Dynamics CRM in the coming months.
Gaming the System?
We caught up with Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, to get his thoughts on the acquisition, financial terms of which were not disclosed. He told us he’s seen internal development and engineering efforts push for ideas around gamification, especially in the sales enablement arena.
“It’s really driven by group dynamics,” Shimmin said. “The motivations that go into succeeding as a sales person or as customer relationship representative are very similar. Your success is always measured against that of your peers.”
From Shimmin’s perspective, the ability to cull technology that relies on a sociological factor to drive greater motivation is important and has been proven to be a workable idea.
“The problem with any software that uses ideas around gamification is that if it’s not deployed or managed properly you can end up with a lot of issues around its efficacy,” Shimmin said. “Just as we saw with things like SEO in the 1990s, people and companies will ‘game’ the system. Any time you are setting up a reward and punishment system that’s based on game mechanics, you are inviting that very behavior.”