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Guest Post: Preventing Death by PowerPoint

Guest Post: Preventing Death by PowerPoint

Doug Landis


Special Guest Post from Doug Landis, VP of Sales Productivity, BOX

Back when we were planning the BOX 2012 sales conference, I was adamant that I didn’t want our sales team to succumb to that dreaded affliction of conference-goers everywhere: death by PowerPoint.

You know what I mean. Endless slides, presenters droning on and on, dim lighting enveloping a jet-lagged audience fighting to stay awake. No good ever comes from pummeling your best people into a slide-induced coma. And if you bore them to death, they’re not likely to take in and retain the information you plan to deliver.

So this year, we were determined to host an event that combined real learning with the engagement and relevance of a mobile-oriented experience. Upping the ante for our sales event was imperative for three main reasons:

1.       We’re a fast-growing company, and that sometimes makes it difficult for new and existing employees to get to know one another. We had to make it easy for people to network, and we wanted those meetings to be fun, interesting and memorable.

2.       We had a lot of material to cover at the conference. But we’re not a boring company, and our culture is anything but. So though we had lots of knowledge to transfer and a straight-up day of lectures wasn’t going to cut it.

3.       Sales people are competitive by nature. The more we could harness that trait, the more they’d engage, and the more fun they’d have.

Looking at that list, we thought, “Why not gamify our sales conference? Companies gamify websites and applications and programs, so why not our event?”

It struck us as a perfect way to add a new dimension to the sales meeting experience. And a gamified event is great fit for the BOX culture, which encourages a spirit of cooperative competition, or “coopetition.”

After looking at all the major gamification providers, we chose Bunchball.  Bunchball won our business for a lot of reasons. They, of course, have all the gamification features we needed, but we also liked their creative thinking on how to gamify a live event in ways that helped us meet our goals for the conference, and we were impressed with their ability to engage people through their mobile phones and tablets.

Here are some highlights.

  • It started with check-in. Using their mobile devices, all our attendees checked in to the conference and instantly became part of the gamification experience.
  • We turned learning into a competition. The day featured five conference sessions. To confirm that our content was gaining traction with sales team members, we had everyone answer questions on key points that were covered in each session – five questions per session, 25 questions in all, and they earned points for every correct answer. The points provided a vehicle for competition, and we set it up so everyone could compete both individually and in teams. Participants checked their standing— and that of their team – on a real-time leaderboard. Checking the leaderboard let participants see who had the best shot at winning several top prizes.

    Guest Post: Preventing Death by PowerPoint

  • We made a game of networking.Gamification offered uniquely fun and effective ways to establish personal connections between team members who might not have the chance to meet otherwise.  Earning points for finding the answers to “Fun Facts” trivia questions about colleagues (which one was a White House intern? who gave a bloody nose playing softball?) motivated participants to get to know each other. The result was a much more entertaining, effective team building experience than what you get in the typical sales meeting setting. 
  • Everybody got in the game. To get the results we wanted, everybody needed to participate. But people carry all kinds of phones and devices – iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.  – so to make sure everyone had access to the experience, we needed something that worked like an app but didn’t care what platform you used.  Writing different apps for multiple platforms wasn’t feasible for a one-day event., so Bunchball created an intuitive, push-button mobile experience delivered through an optimized mobile website. It was platform-neutral, and still had the look, feel and responsiveness of an app.

Guest Post: Preventing Death by PowerPoint

Gamifying the event with Bunchball helped us fully engage every single sales rep from the moment they arrived at the conference until we wrapped it up. We received excellent feedback on the mobile Bunchball experience from our team, and I know for a fact that our people internalized the material we presented far more effectively than if we had just served up the usual buffet of presentation slides.

Finally, there’s a cure for death by PowerPoint. And its name is Bunchball.

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