• October 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Let the Games Begin!

Article Featured Image

Memo from the desk of Marshall Lager, October’s Chief Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Officer:

Gamer-influenced design, recently exemplified (and trademarked, natch) by Entellium, appears to be the wave of the future for CRM user interfaces. At least I hope it is--it's too early to say so for certain, but I know that a more recreational approach to my job would give me greater peace of mind. I spend most of my day playing Mah Jongg solitaire on The Interwebs as it is, so shouldn't I get paid for it?

I hate to let others write my column for me [This is a lie. --The Editors], but Paul Johnston, Entellium's chief executive officer, had a number of salient things to say in a recent blog post. (Well, "recent" may be stretching the truth somewhat: It's from November 2005. CRM, always on top of breaking news for our readers!) Anyway, here are two of Johnston's points:

"Gen Y'ers have built emotional bonds with technology their whole life (gaming in particular), and as such demand a different software experience."
"What technology solves the user adoption issue completely? Compelling video games."

Further, Johnston posits the following as traits that gamers and sellers have in common. Both groups:

  • play against the clock;
  • play with others;
  • need to score points;
  • play in real time; and
  • play to win.

Damn straight, and it's about time somebody finally figured this out! In fact, I'd like to propose my own little list of things that make the selling experience more like online games.

Cheat codes. Anybody who's ever been frustrated by a game knows there are little tricks built into each one by the developers that let you ignore the established rules. Troublesome sales could be a thing of the past if we could just hit a few keystrokes and overcome buyer reticence, product inferiority, and price pressures. Score!

Power-Ups. The best time to score is when you have some kind of points-multiplier acting in your favor. In sales, they call it a sales promotion incentive fund (SPIF). Gamers call it a power-up. Gamer-influenced design would also allow power-ups that grant reduced expectations on quarterly reports, temporary protection from harassment lawsuits, or unlimited coffee refills.

Talking smack. Intimidating the competition is important in online games and in business. Submit a proposal comparing your l33t skillz to those of the other guy, who's a complete newb. And what better way to celebrate a sales victory over a competitor than by doing a touchdown dance, telling him he's been pwned, and shouting things about his mom?

Raiding. Anybody who plays the absurdly popular World of Warcraft online multiplayer game and its ilk knows that the real fun comes not from completing quests, but from assaulting rival factions' strongholds and looting their precious stuff. Taken from the game to the sales arena, Allied Widgets could wait for Cogs Unlimited to make a sale, then stage a raid and simply lift the contract from the mangled, bloody corpses.

Multiplayer. This is the tricky one. While we talk about the sales team all the time, salespeople typically act as solo hunters, or at most with one or two partners in support. Is it possible to find a way for an entire team of salespeople to act on an account without the prospect getting smothered? I wonder.

Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

Intuit and Others Bid on Bankrupt Entellium

The Entellium saga continues as it files for bankruptcy protection, and competing vendors look to pick up the SMB solution provider's pieces.

CRM on Twitter: December 2008

Entellium's crisis played out on Twitter, live.

The Rave Is Over

What happened at Entellium, and what it means for businesses.

Gamer-Influenced Design Games the System

An update to the ongoing story of Entellium's self-destruction.

Entellium Builds a CRM Suite to Rave About

The vendor launches two new products for its Rave suite aimed at "true" small businesses, and hooks up with Boomi as an integration partner.