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Events Redefined Part II: Cisco’s Global Sales Experience

October 21, 2011 - 1 Comment

In the last post I wrote about Cisco’s Global Sales Experience (GSX) I touched on how gamification tactics and the overhaul of the virtual recognition program were critical to the events success. As promised in that post I am going to dive deeper into these two areas to provide additional insight into why the tactics leveraged were so successful. Before I do I thought I would like to share this video featuring some industry experts on the importance of gamification tactics and why GSX is a great case study.

Several elements of GSX leveraged gamification principles to push the envelope on remote engagement. I am going to dive deeper into one of these areas the Architectures Mastery Program of the GSX virtual environment.

Before the event the team did a critical analysis of previous year’s results and engaged the sales force in surveys and focus groups to help us better understand what is working and what is not with the GSX program.

The Architectures Mastery Program was a result of this analysis. What we saw from metrics reporting was that the live architecture sessions attendance was low but the scores were high. What we learned from surveys and focus groups was that the sales force felt that previous architectures courses were too heavy on the ‘marketing’ message and didn’t provide enough insight into the competitive differentiation and the ROI for customers to adopt an architectures approach.

What was surprising was after we researched the training offerings enabled by the Cisco Learning Development and Solutions group it was clear that these types of trainings did exist but adoption had been low. So the opportunity we saw was to raise awareness of these existing training offerings and up-level the attendance of the live GSX architecture sessions. Hence the Architectures Mastery Program was born.

We created a set of criteria’s regarding the course publish date, target audience, global relevance, length and required attendees to pass an assessment for each course. The attendees had a choice of completing five courses from any of the architectures and attending one live architecture session of their choice. This enabled the audience to tailor the program to best meet their needs, i.e. specialists could focus on one architecture and generalists could pick and choose from amongst the architectures. The content was then packaged in a micro-site that clearly outlined the requirements and the attendee progress towards completion. A badge was created that had six individual components and as a requirement step was completed one of the components would change from black and white to full color. Once the entire program was completed the badge was full color and a “higher learning’ achievement was unlocked.

Post event the attendees who completed the program were placed in a drawing for a prize and an email was sent to them, with their manager copied, notifying them they had achieved architectures mastery with a downloadable version of the badge for their internal profiles and email signatures.

The metrics speak for themselves with over 3k learning modules completed and 2% of the audience achieving architectures mastery during the event.

Virtual recognition is tough , especially when being stacked up against a former in person experience were you got to walk across a BIG stage and shake John Chambers hand. However it is not impossible and can actually enable vehicles to recognize contributions at deeper levels since it is not as time and place constrained as in person recognition.

This year GSX was able to ‘crack the code’ on virtual recognition.
The first step was to remove the exclusive nature of the recognition area in the virtual environment. In person it makes sense to have recognition areas be exclusive as it is part of the award and prestige but in a virtual experience the more people with visibility into the winners and their achievements the better.

The second step was to enhance a mechanism leveraged for GSX FY11, the virtual recognition handshake. The enhancements included the ability to choose from a range of globally relevant recognition options such as a bow, bear hug, high-five, kiss on the cheek, and more. Additional enhancements were enabled to the sales recognition program winners profiles to let them see not only the number of virtual congratulations received but who sent them and if it was a fellow winner who sent them be able to immediately reciprocate the congratulations.

The third step was to enable more nuanced levels of recognition. The sales recognition program has traditionally celebrated the fiscal year winners but this year for the first time GSX enabled recognition of multi-year winners with the Hall of Fame and Winning Insights programs.

The results were phenomenal with over 61k virtual congratulations sent during GSX FY12 compared to the 1,721 sent during GSX FY11, a 93% increase year over year, and over 12k views of the Hall of Fame and Winning Insights programs.

The success of GSX FY12 was encouraging for anyone struggling with converting an audience used to an in person experience to a hybrid format. There is still room for growth and the GSX team is excited to see what the future holds. As new technologies come to market, I personally can’t imagine doing a hybrid event without Cisco Telepresence and 5+ years ago that wouldn’t have been possible, what can be accomplished in the future feels limiteless.

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  1. Really great entry Dannette….