Can salespeople close more sales if it’s more fun?

LevelEleven has just scored $2 million in venture funding to continue its goal of doing just that.

“Sales has been around forever,” founder and CEO Bob Marsh told VentureBeat. “We’re simply [adding] visibility into how people are performing, [which] can absolutely be a competitive driver.”

The techniques for the software-as-a-service platform include contests, real-time leaderboards, recognition of high performers, prizes, and other competitive incentives.

The new funding will be used for “accelerating on all fronts,” he said, including sales, marketing, and customer service. He added that “a larger investment” is being planned for a Series A round, to which the $2 million — currently in the form of a convertible note — will be added. Tim Kopp, one of the investors and the ex-Chief Marketing Officer of ExactTarget prior to its acquisition by Salesforce, will join the LevelEleven board.

Marsh also noted that LevelEleven is now seeking “more from the sales/marketing alignment.”

“Up to this point,” he told VentureBeat, the company has “been selling to the VP of Sales, who’s been saying ‘I need to boost my sales numbers.'”

But, he added, LevelEleven’s sales has increasingly been “coming out of the marketing department’s budget,” as marketing departments increasing blend their needs with sales’.

As an example, Marsh noted that the marketing department for customer Interactive Intelligence “has ownership of an annual customer conference, but a challenge is, how do we get sales people to spend a little more time with their customers” at this conference? By employing a leaderboard showing which salesperson has invited the most customers to the conference plus other incentives, LevelEleven said, Interactive Intelligence has increased the customer attendee goal by seven times.

“This is definitely getting the VP of sales and the VP of marketing working together,” Marsh said, adding that his company’s platform “becomes the glue.”

In its announcement, LevelEleven cited stats from industry research firms showing that organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations saw increased growth, profits, sales win rates and customer retention rates.

Gamification techniques (LevelEleven prefers to describe what it does as “motivation to action”) are also offered for sales and marketing by such companies as Bunchball, Badgeville, Hoopla, and Rivalry.

Marsh said LevelEleven differs because it is “completely centered on driving motivation,” and is “literally everywhere [in a company] — in Salesforce, in CRM systems, monitors in the office,” and in real-time notifications in daily workflow.

“Other [companies] don’t have that kind of range,” he told us.

Prior to this most recent funding, the company, which says it is showing 300 percent annual growth, had raised $3.5 million from such sources as Detroit Venture Partners, Tim Kopp, and even Salesforce. The $2 million was raised from current investors, plus new participants the Dallas Angel Network and Tamiami Angels.