Inside the Apple Store's Customer Service Manual

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The Apple Store has often been commended for creating an innovative and customer friendly retail environment. Just looking at the sheer volume of sales that each store generates, it's clear that the secret to their sales success isn't just due to having a large Apple fan base that lines up to purchase new products. Although having a dedicated customer base helps, new Apple Store sales associate, or Genius as they are called in the store, are trained to utilize the most current sales methods in order to build lasting relationships with clients and make sales.


Recently, the tech website, Gizmodo, published pages from the Apple Store's training manual. Although the article was written with the intention of showing that the Genius employees are using mind manipulation techniques to increase sales, the manual looks very similar to what you would find with any sales job. The primary sales approach method used in the store is called “Apple” or: Approach, Probe, Present, Listen and End.


Basically, an Apple salesperson is taught to greet the customer, find out why they are in the store and what problems they are having, then they can present a product based solution. After they make their presentation, they are instructed to listen to the customers reaction, overcome objections and end the sale. It's a fairly straightforward sales approach and one that is common in most sales environments.


The thing that sets the Apple sales training apart, however, is that it focuses on how to interact with customers in a way that helps build a stronger relationship with the brand. In fact, there is a lot that any sort of sales professional can learn from the Apple manual. Here are some of the best sales tips from the manual:


Empathy 101 – The Apple Training Manual instructs new salespeople in relating with customers through the use of empathy. They go on to explain that empathy is walking in another person's shoes and isn't to be confused with sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone. By actively listening and observing a customers behavior, a salesperson can try to understand where the customer is coming from and how they are feeling. Using that information, they can tailor their presentation for each customer. A key part of empathy training is getting comfortable using phrases like, “I may know how you feel” or “I can see how you'd feel that way.” The goal is to connect with a customer on a personal level and make them understand that the salesperson is on their side.


Understanding Body Language – Observing a customer's body language is great way to find out how they are feeling. The manual suggests several different types of behavior, along with emotions the customer might be feeling. For example, tightly clenched hands or pressing their palm to the back of their head means that a customer might be feeling frustrated. However, if they are unbuttoning their coat or sitting on the edge of their chair, they are cooperating and listening to the salesperson's opinions. By observing this behavior, the Apple Store Genius can gauge where they are in the sale and avoid overselling a product or not addressing a customer's frustration.


Use Feel, Felt, Found Statements – This is a common sales technique and the Apple Training Manual breaks it down for their employees. When a customer expresses an objection or reservation about a sale, these techniques help. Here's how it works - “I can understand how you would feel that way. I felt that way too. Then, I found...” For anyone working in sales, this 3F formula is one that can increase sales tremendously.


Avoid Certain Emotional Language – No matter what type of product is being sold, there are always going to be certain words that have negative emotional connotations. With high tech devices and computers, the words are ones like “bug," “unsupported,” and “computer crash.” Apple employees are discouraged from using these words and are encouraged to use less emotional words like “software issue,” “does not work with,” and “stops responding.”


Give Supportive Feedback to Teammates – Apple employees are encouraged to give feedback to their teammates immediately after observing someone having trouble with a sale. This allows all salespeople to support and learn from each other. In sales, having more successful or experienced employees to mentor newer employees can lead to a stronger sales force and a more profitable team.


Model the Corporate Culture – The biggest thing that the Apple Training Manual teaches is the corporate culture. Apple is well known for creating not just products, but a lifestyle. It stands to reason that they want each of their employees to model that culture while they are in the store. Having a unified approach means that Apple customers can be fairly certain that whether they are in an Apple Store in New York City or one in St. Louis, they will receive the same degree of care and the same high level of service.


Apple has long been known as a company that not only provides outstanding customer service, but sells a lot of products. By using the sales techniques from their training manual, any salesperson, no matter what it is that they sell, can find a few things that will help them improve the quality of the service they provide and increase their sales as well.


Image Source: Apple


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