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9/25/2012
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Sales Contest Builder: Old Challenge, New Gamification

Gamification app from ePrize lives on the Salesforce.com platform, addresses a classic challenge for sales managers.

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Sales performance is a natural application for enterprise gamification technologies, and ePrize's Sales Contest Builder has positioned itself as a natural pairing with Salesforce.com.

"This is a natural fit because every sales manager runs contests," said Bob Marsh, general manager of the Sales Contest Builder business unit at ePrize, which has traditionally worked on more consumer-oriented contests and sweepstakes for marketing organizations. He was working in sales management for ePrize, which became a Salesforce.com customer about a year and a half ago, when he found himself wondering "how the heck are we going to motivate people to do the right things using the Salesforce.com software?" he said in an interview.

The application his team built on the Salesforce's Force.com cloud application platform, initially for internal use, was released as on the Salesforce.com AppExchange in time for the Dreamforce user conference last year. "We walked away with a good number of leads, plus a fire hose of product feedback," Marsh said, and by January ePrize recognized the product as driving enough business to justify organizing a separate business unit around it. This year, ePrize was active in a series of sessions at Dreamforce featuring Sales Contest Builder users like Comcast and Palace Sports and Entertainment (owner of the Detroit Pistons).

[ Seeking the right mix? Read Gamification: 75% Psychology, 25% Technology. ]

The software includes the option of specifying a prize that will go to the winner of any given contest, but ePrize only administers the contests, not the distribution of the spoils. In many cases, sales organizations find that it's not necessary to offer a financial prize--naturally competitive salespeople will work to put themselves at the top of the rankings without that, Marsh said. In addition to displaying the rankings on a leaderboard, Sales Contest Builder can be configured to broadcast news of accomplishments over email and Chatter, the Salesforce platform's enterprise social network.

While sales people already may be motivated to sell the most in order to earn commissions, contests can motivate other important behaviors like capturing contact details and orders accurately, to drive better follow up and improved customer satisfaction. That was one of the goals cited in a case study ePrize published on its work with Fleet One, which administers fuel cards and payment cards to companies and government agencies that operate fleets of vehicles. "We created a sales contest to get account managers to complete data fields in Salesforce.com," David Rewers, Group VP of Sales at Fleet One, says in the article. "We used to ask for this stuff, but it never made it to the top of anyone's priority list." By gamifying the process, Fleet One was able to collect more complete information and make better decisions, while also seeing an improvement in sales, he said.

One challenge for ePrize and other gamification players going forward is that Salesforce.com will also be providing gamification elements through Work.com, the employee performance management system it created on the basis of its acquisition of Rypple. Work.com will also track and rank achievements, bestowing badges associated with user profiles. Last week at Dreamforce, Salesforce announced it had also forged a partnership with Amazon.com to offer gift cards for online purchases as a way of bestowing rewards, without the overhead associated with some other incentive prize distribution services.

The gamification solutions for Salesforce.com from Bunchball and Badgeville are part of broader platforms for tracking and rewarding behavior across multiple enterprise applications. They are independent Web services that can be accessed through a Force.com integration, whereas Sales Contest Builder is implemented entirely on Force.com.

The beauty of Sales Contest Builder is that it is simpler and focused specifically on sales. "It's very clear from looking at the product that it was built by a sales manager," Marsh said. "There's a huge pricing difference, too, by the way." According to the AppExchange listings, base price for Sales Contest Builder is $5 per user, versus $25 for Bunchball's Nitro for Salesforce. Sales Contest Builder enjoys a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on the AppExchange, with 30 people voting. Nitro for Salesforce has a perfect 5, but with only four votes showing, more than a year after its release.


The Sales Contest Builder leaderboard appears within Salesforce.com.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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