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How playing games helps Serena Software support sales reps

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Serena Software's sales pitch is not a simple one. When the company's reps sit down with prospects, the conversation is about how to build an enterprisewide plan to streamline IT development, operations and management. The company's technology solutions can cross departmental boundaries and involve a diverse set of users, said Serenity L. Thompson, director of marketing-Americas for Serena Software. “On the same team, people may not have the same priorities as their boss or as their co-workers,” Thompson said. So in 2012, Serena Software worked with Innovation Games to develop an interactive event app to provide a framework for this complex conversation. Innovation used its Knowsy for Sales platform to build a social IT game that asked participants to rank their priorities and then predict the priorities of other players. “That starts the conversation,” Thompson said. “In the end they make a common list of priorities. It's a nonconfrontational way to have a conversation that can be difficult.” Serena Software introduced the game during the New York leg of its Orchestrated IT World Tour. About 20 executives and decision-makers tried out the iPad app during an event at a Morton's Steakhouse. “The intent was for it to be the facilitator for a discussion at the IT executive level at local events and then to offer to bring it into attendees' companies so we could penetrate the account,” Thompson said. In addition to opening the door for sales, the game has provided the company with material for its marketing efforts. More than 1,000 executives have played the game over the past 15 months, Thompson said. “It is a statistically solid sample size. We've been able to generate assets from that for marketing purposes and for analyst briefings.” Serena Software produces white papers and infographics based on the responses, requiring registration and building a lead-generation effort around the content. Data points linked to less-serious questions provide icebreakers. “I'm starting to explore using [some of the data] at our user conference in September to connect people. [For example,] I can tell them that based on 1,000 people who attended Serena events, 75% model themselves after Han Solo,” Thompson said. In addition, Serena Software has conducted three corporate presentations. Those games, even at the one-company level, concentrate on facilitating an internal conversation. The company then produces a four-page report that outlines priorities and a plan for moving forward. Thompson has also introduced informal games at trade shows, inviting attendees to participate and compete for prizes. The activity is fodder for social media channels at the shows, but the responses are not aggregated with data collected at executive-level events. The company has spent about $50,000 on the game, Thompson said. No sales have closed yet, but the event strategy has yielded 14 opportunities and generated $4 million in the pipeline. “At the end of the game, they understand the competing priorities and the path ahead to come together for efficiency, productivity and profitability,” Thompson said. “It sets the stage [for sales] because we see ourselves as an end-to-end IT solution.”
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