When LeasePlan UK was preparing to play its part in the global vehicle leasing company’s roll-out of Salesforce back in 2013, this was exactly the situation that commercial performance director Tom Brewer was anxious to avoid. Says Brewer:
We were spending a lot of money on Salesforce. There was an awful lot pinned on the implementation. The outcomes we wanted to achieve were well understood by the senior management team and the board, but there was some uncertainty around return on investment. I knew that if the sales team didn’t take to the system, our chances of delivering against the business case were seriously at risk.
Perceiving this unease, consultants from Deloitte, LeasePlan UK’s Salesforce implementation partner, came up with what, on the face of it, was a pretty ballsy suggestion: Why not try gamification?
Their advice might well have fallen on stony ground, given the hype and resulting suspicion that surrounds workplace gamification. However, Brewer was prepared to keep an open mind, even if others at LeasePlan UK were more dubious:
The concept of gamification was quite new to me and I was quite taken with it, quite quickly. There was, however, some scepticism among other key stakeholders and more senior executives within our business when I came to them with the idea that this might help.
Fortunately, he was able to win them over. The strategy suggested by Deloitte was to use a Salesforce.com-native gamification app, Sumo for Salesforce, from UK-based software company CloudApps. Brewer quickly worked out that he’d be able to absorb the cost of Sumo into LeasePlan’s overall Salesforce budget, so finance wasn’t an issue, and was able to persuade executives that gamification and the Sumo app would give LeasePlan a vehicle to maintain the momentum created by a splashy launch of Salesforce to the UK sales team:
We knew we had a good platform in Salesforce.com and we’d made a big song and dance about it and upgraded everybody’s technology, giving everyone in frontline sales positions a new iPad in addition to their laptop. There was already a lot of investment, energy and enthusiasm around the launch - but we’d ‘been there, seen that’ with other projects and then found that what actually happens is that three, six, twelve months after the launch, you run out of steam, the benefits haven’t materialised and the whole thing sort of fizzles out. We were pretty determined, with this particular project, that we weren’t going to fizzle out.
A key part of the Sumo gamification project was identifying the behaviours that LeasePlan UK wanted to reinforce and reward in its sales team’s use of Salesforce. Among these were keeping customer contact information up to date; populating strategic account plans with details of the activities that sales executives were planning on to keep relationships moving forwards; and use of Chatter, Salesforce's social media tool, where LeasePlan UK was encouraging its geographically dispersed sales team to contribute their success stories, share knowledge of sales targets and offer colleagues best-practice advice.
Sumo went into action several months after the Salesforce.com go-live date. It ran in ‘baseline’ mode for one month - meaning that it couldn’t be seen in Salesforce by sales staff but was still running in the background and collecting stats on the behaviours that LeasePlan UK had identified in the planning process. This, Brewer determined, would give he and his team a way to measure ‘before and after’ engagement with Salesforce.com.
Then, in May 2014, Sumo went live. It was introduced to sales execs at a half-day, offsite meeting at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey and with the announcement of a competition timed to coincide with that summer’s football World Cup tournament in Brazil.Throughout the tournament - and LeasePlan’s Amplify challenge - sales execs competed with their colleagues to accrue points and win prizes by engaging with Salesforce and sticking to the behaviours their bosses wanted to see.
Because Sumo is a native plug-in, it appears directly on Salesforce screens, ‘nudging’ sales execs to fill in data fields, providing them with ‘next steps, and so on. It also keeps score of their adherence to its suggestions, as well as the proactive actions they take in terms of setting up meetings and up-selling services. Says Brewer:
It’s a bit like a professional golfer having a great caddy. There’s only one person who’s got to hit the winning shot - or bring in the deal - but it’s helpful to have the encouragement and advice of an advisor, helping you along the way.
Results were impressive: between the baseline phase and the go-live phase, Brewer and his team saw activity completion rates more than double, an almost seven-fold increase in contact scouting and a five-fold rise in overall engagement. Chatter collaboration was up 454%.
And even after the close of this formal competition, Sumo continues to keep LeasePlan UK’s sales execs competing with each other in their use of Salesforce and the Salesforce1 mobile app. Brewer says:
You get a real fingerprint of Salesforce usage from the Sumo app. One of the things we’re doing now is providing that information back to sales managers if there are concerns around individual’s usage rates. We’re also able to identify those staff who use the system well and soon, we’ll be able to figure out how closely that correlates to their overall sales success.
It’s a bit early in the day to say we’ve proven that correlation, although we’re seeing early signs of it. We’ve been using Salesforce.com for around a year and Sumo for around nine months, so we’re probably not mature enough in terms of the data sample to realistically make that correlation, but if trends continue in the way they’re doing now, we will.
And as LeasePlan UK brings to market new products and services, he says, it will rely on Sumo to reveal how effective its sales team is in creating new opportunities for them. Brewer concludes:
LeasePlan UK was an organisation that I’d characterise as not highly competitive in terms of sales culture. One of our ambitions was to turn up the volume on that competitiveness - and gamification has enabled us to do that.
Disclosure: at time of writing, Salesforce is a premier partner of diginomica.