Gamification could be considered a slightly passé buzzword these days. However, if there’s one area where it’s still and has always been relevant, it’s sales. Why? As Sparta co-founder and CEO James Pember says, “Sales is already a game — each rep starts the month at 0, and must ‘level-up’ to reach their targets and goals.”
His startup, which has just left Beta, is an online tool to help sales managers more easily run sales competitions. Initially it consists of a simple real-time leaderboard for each sales competition, and an easy way for sales reps to keep the rest of the team updated by logging achievements or exchanging sales banter, in an attempt to recreate the “buzz on the sales floor.”
In the longer term, however, Sparta wants to become the “Runkeeper for sales”, in reference to the popular mobile app that lets you track your runs and other fitness related data. Keeping fit in the context of Sparta means closing more sales.
“[Our] future lies in going deeper into what motivates sales people and how sales leaders can use this data to improve their sales results,” says Pember. “We’re going to go more towards a “Runkeeper for sales” approach, looking at sales behaviour and providing insights for improvement on both the sales rep and sales manager level.”
Interestingly, Sparta’s web-only app requires sales reps to input achievement data manually, rather than, say, plugging directly into Salesforce or another CRM tool — a decision Pember says is deliberate. The idea is that by forcing reps to log their achievements, such as a successful sales call or meeting booked, they think actively about their behaviour and how they can “move up the ladder.”
“If things are automated magically, the real-time engagement is lost, the reps work inside the CRM as normal all day, and no extra drive is built around the competition,” he explains. “Whilst to some it seems cumbersome to input data manually, we’ve actually seen it’s increasing sales for companies.”
There’s another pay off, too: Less work and administration for sales managers, who often rely on spreadsheets and more arcane methods to run sales competitions, such as writing on a whiteboard. “Managers today complain about constantly needing to ‘babysit’ their competitions, gathering the numbers, and keeping everyone up to date. We want to automate that.”
Backed by a very small seed round from Johan Attby (CEO of Fishbrain) and Swedish state-funded VC Almi, Stockholm-based Sparta counts potential competitors as LevelEleven and Hoopla, although both U.S. companies focus more on a Salesforce integration. There’s also Y Combinator alumni Ambition.
To date, Sparta claims around 30 customers in the Swedish market, including some of the region’s biggest sales organisations such as Bonnier, Eniro and the Modern Times Group. It charges on a per-seat licence and SaaS model.