Mission Possible sames simulation game
Avaya, a Fortune 500 global leader in business communications, was faced with the challenge of validating knowledge on critical skills in realistic simulated scenarios. The skills ranged from strategic account planning to sales call preparation, and from presentation skills to product knowledge.
The responsibility to assess Level 1 sales skills fell to Rhonda Duesterberg, Global Sales Enablement Sr. Manager. “Our solution was a series of spy-themed learning and assessment games,” says Duesterberg. “Real world, in-context sales scenarios were used to validate and reinforce sales skills and methodology.” She turned to Gronstedt Group to develop a suite of sales simulations to address key skill areas. “These challenges reinforce previous training and provide our reps with an opportunity to apply and demonstrate those skills in realistic simulated scenarios,” explains Michelle Bigham, Program Manager at Avaya, who manages the development of the programs.
Each game opens with a fast-paced video trailer. The “mission” is presented with a dramatic video by a “commander” who introduces the challenge and the main protagonist. In one of the challenges, learners assist Cindy, the main character, as she develops a value proposition for a global financial service client. The story is told through live-action video, produced by a professional crew of filmmakers and actors. Each decision point offers a teachable moment where the player has to make the call. The sales rep playing the game becomes part of the unfolding story line instead of just a passive audience member.
The learner is presented with resources they’d use in their actual job, such as industry articles and company annual reports and Avaya-specific sales tools. They use these resources to identify the best client contacts as well as to glean essential information about the client’s company and the industry. For each successfully completed activity, the player earns the instant gratification of a badge, which is displayed in the learning environment. Top performers are featured on a display of high score for everyone at Avaya to see. After all, what’s the point of being a high-scorer if you can’t rub it into the face of your colleagues?
Cut-scenes drive the storyline forward; these live-action videos break up the game play to advance the plot and provide additional information. Some assignments feature a timer ticking down, raising the stress level and motivating action; players earn bonus points if they complete the assignment in time. Once the player has prepared for the client meeting, it’s time to help Cindy conduct the sales call. The player watches a “surveillance video” of the real-time meeting. At each decision point the video stops and the learner must select the next question Cindy should ask the client to keep the meeting moving in a productive direction. What’s a game without any techno toys? By selecting questions to ask and statements to make and watching the client respond in video, players get to prove their skills. As they advance through the game, they “level up.” Sales skills are built and reinforced as the player progresses through each level, providing a feeling of mastery and accomplishment. The capstone level of the “Customer Value” game introduces an ultimate challenge: Based on skills learned in previous levels, the player must put together a value proposition to win the game.
Each game stays true to the spy theme, while employing different media and game element. The “Communication Skills” game features a sales presentation by Cindy. Players are challenged to stop the video when they observe a problem with the way the character is using their voice, body, or expressions to communicate with a client. The “Mobile Collaboration” game features “machinima” video of avatars in the virtual world of AvayaLive Engage instead of live action video with actors. What this animated format lacks in realism, it makes up for in flexibility to update content; unlike live actors, avatars don’t age or change hairstyle, making it easier to modify the video sequences over time as products and content change. Some of the installments end with a real life assignment that reps need to submit to their sales managers for review, such as a video of a sales presentation or a completed account plan.
In the process of gamifying sales training and certification, Avaya is challenging traditional academic notions of “courses,” “classes,” “curriculums,” and “exams,” and replacing them with gaming vernacular of experience points, badges, levels, quests, goals, achievement rewards, time pressure, and cut scenes to make sales learning engaging and inspiring. Gamification promises to revolutionize sales learning and certification, which would be an epic win for the sales training industry.
These challenges reinforce previous training and provide our reps with an opportunity to apply and demonstrate those skills in realistic simulated scenarios.Michelle Bigham
The games represent cost savings of over a million dollars compared to traditional class-room based learning and garnered reactions like: “Spot on with questions and answer selections, loved how the client response changed based on the answers,” and “Dynamite, best scenario-based training I’ve seen.”