It all started with an insult.
A customer at an Apple store in Australia complained that a store employee had “questioned my intelligence” by insisting he was using Apple Pay for a transaction.
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This client was fed up with the insistence and walked out.
However, I wanted to help him. I wanted to see if this behavior was widespread. So I went into a few Apple stores to find out if its salespeople really have an incentive to offer certain products or services.
None would admit any kind of commission payment.
I have, however, received information from former Apple Store employees who have said, in essence, that these salespeople might not like everything that is really going on.
These former employees unveiled a little more of the guts of how stores operate and how certain products or services could, indeed, receive special attention.
A former senior employee at the store told me, “Apple front-line workers don’t get paid on commission or get bonuses. From a paycheck perspective, there is no real incentive to push Product A against Product B.
However, he said, the management team of every store is under pressure and prompted: “The direction or pressure for employees to sell a certain product comes from the retail management team. It means the store manager, senior managers and the product area. [Sales Manager] Leader.”
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He explained, “The store manager receives a breakdown of metrics and targets in the form of a market report from his market manager. [regional manager]. Retail leadership teams actually receive a performance bonus based on quarterly sales results, a fact that is never explicitly disclosed to frontline teams. “
Ah, so it’s a matter of a little more subtle tactics? It seems that sometimes for possibly idiosyncratic reasons a store might sell a lot more, say, third-party accessories than many other stores. On the other hand, iPhone sales could be lagging behind.
Subtle psychological pressure is then applied, he said, in order to restore balance. It’s about “directing customers to the late product,” without actually pushing that product.
How does this customer orientation work? “Consultative selling,” said a former sales manager.
He explained, “After the interaction was over, I would frequently check in with the specialist and ask, ‘What things have you learned about your client today? “. Specialists who learned and remembered the names of their clients and knew what they did for the job, performed really well. Apple started to really push its in-store commercial services around 2014-15. This could lead to 5 or even 6 figure sales if you are able to close a small or medium local business. Better yet, if you knew about customers’ hobbies, you were probably by far the most successful salesperson. ”
As for leadership bonuses, they don’t depend, according to my sources, on the specific percentage of sales through Apple Pay or the number of customers who buy AppleCare. Which doesn’t mean that AppleCare and Accessory connection rates aren’t closely monitored and, yes, pushed. There is a lot of profit in the little things.
The power of the crowd
So why was the insulted customer forced to use Apple Pay? Well, it just might have something to do with the crowded nature of Apple stores, apparently.
A former manager said: “The push for Apple Pay comes from the familiar dilemma of being in a crowded Apple Store and not knowing how to get that lightning cable pulled in your hand. At a higher level, management at Apple decided, based mostly on customer satisfaction metrics, that customers appreciate the ability to pay for something themselves. I think they thought there was a certain cool factor there like cashier-less stores. from Amazon. “
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Apple is following tasteless hackers on Amazon? Can it be? Still, about the alleged aggressiveness. This is where the fun comes in.
“This [Apple Pay push] leads to “fun challenges” presented by store management to challenge people to complete a number of Apple Pay transactions, ”a former manager told me. “You can imagine that if done skillfully you can engage a customer, have them download the Apple Store app – a valuable point of contact for future transactions and services – and make them feel involved in the process. . “
What if it’s not done right?
Another former store manager explained, “We’ve all been pressured to push Apple Pay in every transaction. These measures have been mentioned in employee reviews and promotions. They generally focused on behavioral observations. increased your chances of being favored. “
It was not the experience of other store managers. One of them said to me, “I have promoted or given raises to many salespeople over the years, and not once has this happened. [Apple Pay] was never even part of the conversation between me and my peers to determine a promotion. “
The pressure is on me.
Maybe some store managers react to pressure better than others. In any case, I have been told, some salespeople are simply better than others.
A former store manager told me, “Employees with completed Apple Pay transactions tend to have the best sales performance for all other products, as well as the highest customer satisfaction scores. Is it because Apple Pay is the hardest sell of them all? ? I leave that to you and your readers.
So it could be that Apple is like every other business, with varying employee performance and some employees vying for favor from their superiors. And there you thought everything about Apple was magical and revolutionary.
Naturally, I asked Apple for its opinion on how it entices store staff. The company declined to comment.
I sense Apple is keen to make it clear that it will never entice staff by offering a certain percentage to a certain seller for the sale of a certain product.
It just wouldn’t be consistent with how the brand presents itself primarily as customer-centric.
It would certainly not be surprising, however, if at least some sort of bonus was paid to at least some staff for exceeding broader performance targets.
In the end, Apple stores have been one of the most powerful pillars of the company’s success. The fact that you can go to your local mall, stroke products, and even have a gadget repaired is, for the ordinary human, a truly valuable feature.
Additionally, I have generally found the staff at Apple stores across the country to be engaging, efficient, and remarkably honest.
Yet, as Apple’s business moves towards greater profitability coming from the services side – and with its human resources manager now in charge of stores – could a little more pressure be applied to everyone? store staff in order to send these service figures even higher?
Better if it was subtle pressure.