7 Sales Tips Inspired by 'The Hunger Games'

Sales professionals playfully battle each other

Katniss Everdeen is the main protagonist in the best-selling novel and subsequent box office hit, The Hunger Games. In this futuristic story, Katniss participates in a mandatory, high-stakes televised contest, known as The Hunger Games, as a representative of her impoverished home district. According to the game rules, there are only two possible outcomes for each of the 24 contestants: sole victory or death. Katniss must outplay stronger competitors from other districts–from the start the odds are not in her favor.

While obviously not as cutthroat as The Hunger Games, sales representatives routinely face similar challenges to Katniss–their survival (success) depends on how well they leverage their assets on the playing field, and victory (closing a sale and earning a commission) is possible but never a guarantee. Sellers, too, must outperform the likes of many other fierce competitors vying for success.

[SPOILER ALERT!] Fortunately for Katniss, she employs several traits, allies and strategies that take her all the way to the end of the game. Sales consultants, account executives and other sales professionals, likewise, can greatly improve their odds for success by borrowing a few pages from Katniss's playbook. Below are seven factors that proved crucial to her victory.

  1. Mentor. Even though Katniss is a strong individual with impressive skills (see below), she would have been far in over her head were it not for the guidance and support of her mentor, Haymitch. A former Hunger Games winner of years ago, he imparted invaluable wisdom and strategy to Katniss out of firsthand experience. Sales representatives can also gain invaluable knowledge and guidance from an experienced mentor who has succeeded in the sales field time and time again.
  2. First impression. To help her earn a loyal following from the general public, which can give her a favorable advantage during the game, Katniss was directed to grab the attention of spectators when she was first introduced. She wore an eye-catching dress that appeared to burn in flames, and was quickly nicknamed "the Girl on Fire." Account managers need not engulf their outfits with flames, but they can benefit later from imprinting a positive and memorable first impression on prospective clients.
  3. Preparation. Before the start of the game, Katniss was given time to train her body, sharpen her survival skills and refine her strategy. These preparations were crucial for Katniss, as evidenced by the bloodbath that immediately consumed other under-prepared contestants. Fellow sales pros are far more civilized than Hunger Games competitors, thankfully, but they will go to great lengths to win over clients that are up for grabs. The victor is usually the seller armed with the most knowledge and the cleanest sales pitch.
  4. Proven skills. One of the most effective ways Katniss caught the public's attention was through her demonstrated proficiency with a bow and arrow. Her skill was very impressive, though she was very selective about how and when she put it to use, which was mostly ever to sustain her survival and rarely as a murder weapon. A product demonstrator can catch the attention of customers passing by, and capture more sales, by displaying impressive skills that draw greater focus to the products being demonstrated.
  5. Integrity. In addition to possessing impressive skills, Katniss played what was arguably a fair game and even demonstrated acts of empathy toward other players, which helped further her support among watchers of the televised broadcast. She did not display her values and principles merely as an act to garner support; her deeds were authentic, and that persuaded spectators to root for Katniss and the principles she upheld. Account executives, who genuinely care about the products or services they sell, will earn the respect and loyalty of more customers.
  6. Advocate. The reason why it was important to gain the support of spectators is because they can choose to act as a sponsor by funding the delivery of aid to players. Haymitch socialized with spectators during the game in an effort to gain their support for Katniss, and it paid off when she was injured and a sponsor promptly sent her medicine that helped keep her in the game. In the sales profession, advocates are satisfied clients who provide testimonials and voluntarily refer prospects to top-notch sellers.
  7. Courage. Even though Katniss faced tough odds in a deadly environment, she did not increase her risk of failure by allowing her fears to cloud her judgment or make her vulnerable to ambush. Her ability to rise above her circumstances and play what was ultimately the best game was key to her victory. Sales agents also perform better when they keep their eye on a goal and fend off distractions caused by their own frustration, impatience or disappointment.

While sales professionals face considerably lower stakes than players in The Hunger Games, they, too, must approach their work with a well-formed strategy aimed at improving their odds for success, albeit on a different scale. They may do well to select Katniss as a mentor.

Have you learned valuable career lessons from other fictional characters? Please describe what you learned in the comments!

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans



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