An Orchard Of Bad Apples

Shopfloor selling is in a terrible state. In fact, it’s so rare to find adequate, let alone impressive, retail sales skills that when you do, you put it down to a fluke of personal individual brilliance.


In a glittering Apple store the other day, what kind of sales skill do you think I found? Did the selling match the store’s sparkle?

Let’s start with a typical buyer query; the supersession quiz. “What’s the difference between iPhones 3 & 4?” I asked – here was the reply,

“The retina screen, the best one, a better camera for pictures and video and facetime.”

Perhaps sensing I lacked full understanding, after a pause they added “for video calls”. I couldn’t believe how bad this answer was. Despite all the energy and enthusiasm of the assistant, all I got was a bouncing recital of a few randomly listed features.

Already my interest had moved beyond their gleaming, can’t-live-without product range to now understanding their sales approach. So I chucked in a cheeky objection to further check. “Isn’t the reception dodgy on the 4, and doesn’t the rubber band keep slipping off?”

“I’ve never heard of anyone losing calls. I haven’t, nor my Dad on his. And the band’s fine. I’ve got the latest 4.1 software upgrade.”

This is verbatim. I decided to mischievously mix things up by throwing in a buying signal. “What do I need to bring to get a contract?”

Needless to say, the requirements were stumbled through, and at the end of the spiel I wasn’t really any wiser.

My parting shot was to ask whether I needed an iPad too.

“It’s personal preference. I’ve got a phone and computer. It’s up to you.”

Throughout our chat the mood was genial and I encountered only a permasmile. The demeanour of the helper was delightful. The words on the other hand… simply shocking.

Any vital questions back to me about my requirements were totally absent. Untethered features rained down. A “Yeah, but…” objection handle. Missed buying signals. No attempt to position a product.

I made gentle enquiries about their training. It appears the team of eager young Apple front-of-housers only get “a little bit”. Overall, “they tell us nothing”.

What on earth are Apple doing? Forget Apple, what are you doing? I wouldn’t mind betting that faced with similar questions pertinent to your wares there’s scope for the wrong approach to similarly emerge. Retail is likely mirrored in b2b. Something to also consider if you happen to be a sales manager.

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