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Why Your Sales Reps Should Act like Pokémon Trainers

Posted on 8.18.2016

:: By Gabe Larsen, ::

Monsters have taken over the world. Or at least, they have in alternate reality (AR). Since its launch in July of this year, the game has dominated app stores with more than 100 million downloads, raking in more than $10 million in revenue each day. 

This isn't simply a watershed moment for AR, or even gaming, it's an opportunity for savvy businesses to spice up their sales.

If you haven’t been caught up in the craze, a quick primer: Pokémon Go is a game that allows players to “travel between the real world and the virtual world of Pokémon,” using real locations to encourage players to search and explore their surroundings to find Pokémon, which Nintendo defines as “creatures of all shapes and sizes who live in the wild or alongside humans.”

The viral success of the game means you don’t have to go far to find someone with a smartphone in hand, wandering the streets in search of these creatures. I’ve even seen a few around my neighborhood and, after some initial head-scratching, have made a few observations, primarily that I think this strategy is brilliant. Further, there are direct parallels--and even applications of this technology--that can be made to the world of sales. 

Stay with me here. Sales teams, much like Pokémon Trainers (the term for Pokémon hunters in game play), spend a ton of time prospecting and searching around for the perfect lead. Although the uniforms may be different (you don’t often see salespeople wearing cargo shorts and baseball hats, after all) Pokémon Trainers can actually teach sales reps a thing or two. 

Here are five examples of how sales reps should act more like Pokémon Trainers:

Customize Your Trainer, AKA Optimize Your Social Profiles: Just as Pokemon Trainers customize their own avatar in the game, in sales, it’s critical to put your best foot forward. Not only does this mean dressing the part, but making sure that your appearance online--social media included--reflects you and your company in a positive light.

Add to Your Pokédex, AKA Identify Target Accounts and Contacts: As Trainers level up in the game, they’re able to catch more powerful Pokémon and add them to their Pokédex. In sales, you have to identify your strategic accounts, put an attack plan together, and build a personalized approach plan to add key decision makers into your sales pipeline. 

Join a Team, AKA Sell as a Team: While playing Pokémon Go, you'll be asked to join a team: Mystic, Instinct or Valor. In the same way, sales is a team sport too. You can’t win alone. Sales, marketing, and sales development must have a combined strategy to attack--and win--target accounts.

Search High and Low for Pokémon, AKA Take a Personalized Prospecting Approach to Buyer Personas: In order to ‘catch em all’, you have to get out and explore cities where Pokémon might be. Similarly, in sales, it's not about you, it's about the prospect. You have to explore their world and find what resonates with them. The closer you get to understanding their needs the better chance you’ll have to turn them into a customer.

Once You've Encountered a Pokémon, Throw a Poké Ball to Catch It, AKA Give Value to Get the Sale: To catch a Pokémon, you can't just walk up and grab it. You have to throw a Poké Ball. Similarly, in sales, prospects don't buy easily. You have to use your own tools to catch them, and in the real world, that usually means giving value to get the sale. Be a trusted advisor. Make your prospects look like a hero and you'll be a lot more likely to win the deal.

In the game of sales, it’s often the reps that tackle each prospect with a “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality who exceed their quotas, so perhaps we should all take a cue from our friends at Nintendo. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Pokémon to catch. 

About the Author

Gabe Larsen has over 15 years of experience in driving business revenue for companies of all sizes. As Director of’s Labs, Gabe has helped over 200 clients solve the biggest problems in the Sales Acceleration space.

After co-founding his own company, Gabe worked at Accenture and Goldman Sachs, overseeing complex financial situations and learned first-hand the importance of using data to drive human decision-making. He also spent four years at Gallup as an international strategic consultant, helping establish the company’s Middle East presence and doubling the region’s revenue in his first year. 

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