Five Qs: Scott Shepard on Detroit’s LevelEleven

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Five Qs: Scott Shepard on Detroit's LevelElevenSince launching in October 2012, Detroit-based LevelEleven — a gamification app that spun out of HelloWorld (formerly ePrize) — has added clients including Comcast and the Detroit Pistons, and most recently hired Scott Shepard, a former Yahoo! sales leader, as its vice president of sales. The West Bloomfield native spoke with DBusiness Daily News about how gamification can improve a company’s sales.

1. DDN: What exactly does LevelEleven do?

SS: We’re basically a tool that enables sales and service organizations to create competitions and contests around key activities within their sales cycle. We’re actually an app for Salesforce, which is the top CRM (customer relationship management) system out there — it’s kind of the 800-pound gorilla of the market. They have an app exchange, similar to how iPhone has an app store. The iPhone is a good tool, but you customize these apps around what makes the most sense for you and your life. It’s the same kind of concept with Salesforce App Exchange.

So we’re an app (that falls under) this buzzword of gamification. Our tool allows sales managers and sales leaders to create competitions around any sort of activity, call, or opportunity within Salesforce to energize their sales teams. I have been leading and managing sales teams for the past six or seven years and had always been running contests and competitions, trying to get my sales team to focus on certain behaviors and motivate them appropriately. But it was always time consuming and often times, you have to manage these contests in spreadsheets. When I saw how easy it was to plug (this product) into someone’s CRM and to monitor it in real-time, it blew me away.

2. DDN: What are some of the more effective ways to use the tool?

SS: Some of the fun activities are team-based ones. And it’s not always necessary that the prize be a huge gift card or a brand new car. Maybe Comcast has a sales office in Philadelphia and one in Detroit. (Comcast) will run a team-based competition around the amount of revenue over a week or two or a month. The competition may be that if the Philadelphia team loses, they have to all post a picture of people in their office wearing Detroit Lions gear, and if the Detroit team loses, they would have to wear Philadelphia Eagles gear. It’s creating competition, but its also motivating and rewarding the sales people and incorporating more fun into that process.

3. DDN: How effective is it?

SS: We have a ton of phenomenal case studies. For instance, Kelly Services (in Troy) was trying to get their team out of the office in Q4 (fourth quarter), when a lot of their teams in the Midwest (are facing) cold weather. They ran a contest and generated millions and millions more in business in that Q4 (when compared to) the Q4 in the previous year. And they attributed the majority of that to this contest.

The other big piece where we’ve seen success is when a company is selling a new product. When a company has a lot of different projects, (they might notice) reps aren’t as comfortable selling that new product. So they start a contest or competition around rewarding people that are selling the new product. For the Detroit Pistons, their suite sales skyrocketed because of it.

4. DDN: Two years ago, IT technology research and advisory firm Gartner predicted most gamified applications would fail by 2014. Why has LevelEleven succeeded?

SS: Gamification means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I think we fall into that category to a certain extent, but a lot of times, it’s gamifying — or creating a game or something fun out of — a company’s current product or their website. What we’re trying to do is create competitions and contests within sales organizations. The reality is all sales organizations were already running contests and competitions — we’re just providing a more effective way to run them. I’m sure in different sectors and industries, gamification may start to lose its luster over the next couple of years, but I don’t think it’s ever going to change within sales. Sales reps are motivated by money, by competing with their peers, and by recognition. That’s how it was 100 years ago, and I think that’s how it’s going to be 100 years from today.

5. DDN: How does your role fit into the company’s plans for this year?

SS: I was brought in to run sales and service for the company. We currently have a team of seven sales reps and a couple of service people. My role is to really expand that team and coach them to the next level. We’re currently looking to add a few more members to the team now and throughout the rest of the year. We’ve doubled our revenue in the past six months, have about 150 clients today, and our goal is to really try and double that between now and the end of the year and continue on this fast growth trajectory. My role is to help really build a world-class sales organization and also, just as important, make sure that we’re building the right foundation to keep our clients and customers happy.

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