FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Tag Archives: sales

Unwanted attention

So I decided to upgrade my iPhone to iOS 7 this morning…

(for my thoughts on the changes see my existing blog posting about what I’d like in a future iOS release).

One of the things I was really wanting to try (it sounds silly, but sometimes it’s the simple things) was blocking unwanted and unsolicited Sales calls.

Until this morning, when I receive one of these annoying calls, I have added the number to an existing contact called ‘Unsolicited Sales Call’ and set it to a ring tone that I could easily ignore.

Now that I’m on iOS7 I received a call that I didn’t know the number and I remembered hearing about this feature so I thought I would try to find it…

To block a number I went to ‘Phone’ and then select ‘recents’ to get a list of all the most recent calls. I then selected the Information icon ( circle with a lowercase i inside) on the right of the entry I wanted blocked. Once there I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and found the ‘Block this Caller’ option [this changes to ‘unblock this Caller’ so you can undo the change if you’ve made the change in error].

Since I’ve already added calls that I’ve received from sales organisations into the one contact name all I needed to do was block this user and all the calls will be blocked in one go. Any new calls I do get can just be added to this user and they will be blocked from then on. So no need to block each individual number!!

Very handy, Thanks Apple 🙂

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When selling is not an option

Anyone that knows anything about Apple Stores know that they are different and they have always been different from the very first store.

Many people say that they are not about making sales, but is that really the case? Is there something more, hidden beneath the surface?

Before I go on, I would like to state for the record that I have never worked in an Apple Store, and considering some of my postings in here I probably never will. At one time I would have gladly worked in an Apple Store ( I even went to a few interviews ), but I can no longer see that being a possibility now and as I post more about Apple I can see my chances diminishing.

So, Apple Stores are known for being light, bright, clean & airy stores with loads of products on view and enough staff so that you can get help whenever you need it, but the staff are not there to sell, they are only to help, advise and guide. Well that’s the theory. Some postings on Yelp have said that the staff have been so ‘hands off’ that they have struggled to purchase goods in the store.

Not many people realise that what Apple are really doing is what sales people have been trained to do for years. In my past (it’s not on my CV) I was quickly trained by a TimeShare sales manager during a period of unemployment, when I was trying to help a small Glasgow company create a new line of products ( Boxed teddy bears with high quality chocolates. An experience that slowly descended into selling electrical items around pubs & small shops – not my finest hour and something I wasn’t good at).

Some people reading this are probably thinking “what are you talking about, Apple don’t sell in their stores”.. Well lets look at my training:

  • Find the customers needs and desires.
  • Find out the barriers to the user purchasing the item.
  • Get the customer to handle & use the product ( stimulates ownership).
  • Get the customer to envision how their life would be better with the product.
  • Minimise negative feelings about the product.
  • Emphasise the positives and reinforce the customers ownership of the product.

If you have been into an electrical retailer you will probably recognise some of (if not all) these steps from being ‘accosted’ by sales staff trying to reach their monthly quota. Once you know about them you learn to be distrustful of the sales guys. I know I do, which is why I don’t do sales and don’t know (or associate myself with ) anyone who does.

So if you still can’t see how Apple sell at their Apple Stores here’s the reveal.

  • Apple products are out on display and any customer can pick them up and use them (ownership [3] )
  • The products are preloaded with Apple software and high end software from other vendors ( iPhoto, iWorks, iMovie, Final Cut, Toast, etc) ( , which allows customers to envisage how they use the product [ 3 & 6])
  • iPhoto, iMovie is full of life affirming photos and movies of sunny, fun, exciting, healthy US trips, vacations. Everyday events ( Birthdays, graduations, etc) all well lit, bright and exciting. ( envision a [better] life with the product [4])
  • Apple Specialists are then on hand to help guide you, finding out what you want to do, talking you through how the product works, finding common interests [1, 2, 5, 6]
  • Then there may be concerns over repairs. Apple care is mentioned.[5]
  • If there are still concerns over how to use the product, or how to learn more about Apps then there are the Workshops or if it’s something more specific then One-to-One training is mentioned. [2, 5 & 6]

Even the store layout is geared to sales of Apple products. All the products are on the tables or at the side of the room as you walk in, no obstructions, distractions just the products. Everything is open, accessible ( unless your disabled – but that’s for another post) and ready to use. Non apple products are kept to the back of the store ( in the Mall stores that I have seen) or away from the main floor, possibly close to the Genius Bar ( on another floor like Glasgow Buchanan Street, London Covent Garden and London Regent Street)

Do you still think that Apple don’t sell ?

If you need further justification, check out the mention of A.P.P.L.E. on Five Things To Noted From Visits To Apple Stores Whilst On My Holiday and
How to be a genius: This is apple’s secret employee training manual.

Saying all this, was it really a surprise that a retail store ( after all that’s what the Apple Store is) is trying to sell to you? Personally I don’t mind, I prefer the soft sell ( or just using the Apple Store app to get what I want via EasyPay).

Rise of the salesmen

Recently I have been looking around for a new role, but I have yet to find one that interests me (with the exception of Apple, which is difficult to get an invite to a job interview let alone land the role).

I have recently been approached or applied for some IT support roles and , despite several decades of support experience, it appears that the agencies managing the recruitment process are overlooking me for roles that are similar
to my current role. This situation appears to be because they are looking for some management view of what the ideal candidate should be.

Recently I queried one of the agencies and had an open and honest discussion about the role, which I decided to turned down as it’s too similar what I’m doing just now and I’m looking
for something more exciting and dynamic (guess that’s what happens when you have a creative streak and like Apple kit rather than the same old Windows desktops and server systems).

The initial feedback from the agency was that I didn’t have the skill set for the role, but on getting the job description it closely matched my current role, except the description had been written in management terms so unless you understood the role, in my opinion, it would be difficult to find a suitable matching candidate.

This has got me thinking, how many roles have I missed out on because some can’t marry the management view of the role with the reality of what support role is really about? Then I realised that even when you do get a chance at an interview it’s not about ‘if you can do the job’ but it’s who is the best sales person, who can persuade the hiring organisation that they *are* the droid they are looking for.

What I’m saying here is that, from my viewpoint, it looks like it’s the sales people, the liars, the BS artists who find out what the hiring company want and then promise to deliver (and later buy the book, pick existing staff for information and eventually get found out for the frauds that they are.. possibly even get great references so that the company can off load them ?), these sales people / con artists are the ones who get the jobs.

I guess I have had some lucky beaks in my career, being at the right place at the right time. My first IT role, fresh out of college, I failed the interview and it was only at the request of the senior support engineer that I got the job.. since then I found out the owner of the company soon realised that I was a great asset for the company as I worked hard, constantly taught myself new skills and had a passion for the job that meant that I wanted to share my knowledge with my colleagues and improve the company in the process.

Even my current role, again I failed the interview, but something I said at the interview stuck with the manager and I got a call a week later offering another position that had just come up. I started a few days later, weeks before my colleague who had successfully passed the interview and after nearly 10 years in the same role it’s time for a change. By the way he’s a good guy, I have loads of time for him and he is a genuine, honest, modest and hard working individual (just to clarify before I go on).

So, what do you have to do to get a job nowadays? Do I have to lie, cheat and become a sleazy sales person and amend my CV and online profiles to create a false facade that fits in with this cookie cutter system in order to advance my career or is there a better way? Can you be yourself, can you be humble and honest and land the role you want or have the salesmen taken over?

This is my dilemma, after spending my life in Scotland I’m not the type of person that finds it comfortable putting on a front, preening feathers and showing off, thinking I’m something or somebody.

I’m not something, I’m just me, I make mistakes, I learn from them and I develop my skills as I am given the opportunities to gain those skills (or take the opportunities to try things when I’m bored with the same dull routine) and I get things done.

So how do you move onto the next opportunity when you have to put on an act and you don’t want to be an actor. How do you sell yourself when you hate telling lies and prefer humility to brash showmanship?

Personally I don’t know and until I can find a resolution to this issue I guess I’m stuck where I am.

Side Note: I realise that, to some, there is a bit of a contradiction between their beliefs and a statement I made at the start of this post.. I’m referring to the statement that I would love to work for Apple (or a similar creative organisation). To some, this appears to contradict my humble, almost shy persona. To me there is no contradiction as I don’t see Apple as being a sales lead organisation, instead it appears to me to be a technology company that want to support it’s customers and provide the best technology, support and environment for it’s customers. If this isn’t the ultimate goal of IT support then maybe I should rethink my life’s work and find a new career. That’s what I want to provide to my employer, customers, friends and associates..