4 Lessons Pokémon Go Can Teach Sales Professionals

Pokémon Go was released just two weeks ago, and has already become a cultural phenomenon. Within a week of Pokémon Go’s release, it’s spawned the biggest mobile game to date; attracting more daily users than Twitter, and it’s getting more app usage than Instagram, Snapchat or Spotify. You could say Pokémon Go has become a lifestyle choice (or downward spiral) for many—the media is full of stories about distracted players putting themselves in harm’s way by wandering into unsafe neighborhoods, failing to pay full attention when driving, and annoying folks who happen to live near a Pokémon Go Gym or PokéStation.

If you’re getting all this down and haven’t run screaming from this blog yet, you may be thinking, OK, but what does Pokémon Go have to do with sales?!

First, for those who don’t know, a bit more background: Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that you can run on your Android or iOS device, and uses your phone’s GPS to find your location and literally puts you in the game. It then makes various Pokémons (short for Pocket Monsters) “appear” somewhere nearby so you can try to catch them. In other words, you wander around the real world trying to catch made-up characters in the virtual world.

Got it? Good. Now, back to the question at hand: What the heck does this have to do with sales? Well, I’ve come to find, after growing a little addicted to this game in the last few days, that there actually are quite a few parallels between “PG” and the sales game that we can draw from.

  1. In sales and in Pokémon Go, you are out “in the field.” Players wander from location to location trying to find and capture Pokémons. Some Pokémons will be near water; some in parks; some you may only catch at a certain time of day. In other words, if you’re going to advance in the game, you need to be willing to move around in the outside world, not just melt into the couch cushions as you sit gaming. Similarly, sales is not for the lazy of heart. If you want to advance your sales career, you must be willing to be nimble, on your toes, ready to jump into action.When sales reps get too comfortable with their well-worn processes and approaches, they can become complacent. Professionally speaking, they don’t get up and stretch their legs. Success in sales stems from a desire to learn and adapt to new things; it comes from approaching every sales transaction as a fresh challenge to embrace and master—like catching Pokémons. If you’re harboring a know-it-all, been-there-sold-that mentality, you’ve got the wrong attitude for sales, which is about shifting your approaches and growing. It’s about treating each sale as a unique opportunity to step out of your professional comfort zone and grow your knowledge base.
  2. One of the goals of Pokémon Go, as I’ve said, is to catch as many Pokémon characters as you can, but in order to do so, you must collect Pokéballs which are red and white spherical containers to catch them with. Occasionally you must refuel at a PokéStation. Sales doesn’t offer conveniently located PokéStations for recharging, but you can refuel with books, the internet and resources your sales manager would probably love to share with you. As well, you can think of this blog as a valuable resource, or PokéStation, as I like to call it.
  3. Once you’ve reached level 5 in the game, you’ll be able to access Pokémon Go Gyms, virtual locations near landmarks in the real world. They serve as the arena for duking it out with other Pokémon characters belonging to other “trainers.” Put in plain English for non-gamers, Go Gyms are where you do things like fortify your Pokémons, elevate them to higher levels, and invest them with new capabilities so that they can do exciting stuff. It’s the equivalent of sales training for sales professionals. You’ll do OK without formal sales training, but sales is a tough game, and if you’re doing just OK, you’re missing out. Without sales training, a rep is probably lacking the skills that separate top performers from everybody else.
  4. One thing kids—and now many adults—know is that each Pokémon character has powers, characteristics, and fighting skills all their own. They become further customized the more you develop them. Pokémons aren’t customers, of course, but like Pokémons, they are unique in their own ways. In attempting to convert leads, free yourself of any preconceived notions about them. Keep an open mind. You never know who they are, nor should you try to guess. Ask questions, and then really listen to the answers. Listening is a crucial characteristic worth cultivating. Use it to discover each and every clients’ needs, and in turn to meet those needs. Only then can you hope to win at this game. And, hey, winning comes from the power of you. There’s no app for that.