Selling the APPLE way – the value of a simple core sales process

The rapid success of Apple stores and its retail business is evidence yet again of Apple getting the basics right – and there are lessons to be learned from Selling the Apple Way.

There is/was a video by Forbes which provided a fantastic overview of the Apple service or sales process in its stores, summarised in the acronym A.P.P.L.E.

The foundation is understanding what people want to achieve and finding a great way to deliver that. And then wrapping it and delivering a wonderful ‘experience’, and making people feel Happy!

The American view of Sales as a Service, a process to help the buyer to meet their needs and to feel more happy, is also a strong message here. It reveals a very positive view of the value of good sales people in America. Something we could all learn from.


Five steps to Selling the APPLE way

Here is a quick summary of the five steps covered in the video:

A – Approach shoppers with a personalized welcome. Initiate contact on a friendly and professional basis, and try to get their first name and then use it.

P – Probe politely to understand a customer’s needs. Their time is valuable so open ended questions can quickly reveal their interests, needs and intentions, so you can serve them better.

P – Present a solution that the customer can take home today. It may not be a purchase on this visit, but matching an offer, such as a booklet or workshop invitation, means they don’t leave empty handed.

L – Listen out for issues or concerns and resolve them quickly. Find out any reasons why they may not proceed and tackle them early on reduces the chance of doubts or negative thoughts taking root.

E – End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return. Finish the conversation on a friendly note and sow the seed for the next conversation, to build the relationship and loyalty.

The Apple in-store service or sales approach is nothing new though. At its core, it has strong parallels with what has been taught in B2B and B2C sales training for decades. There are also elements that tie in with personal communications skills, and the message from Dale Carnegie in ‘How to win friends and influence people’, and many other relationship building, sales and communications guides.

When the Sales Process works other activities fall in line

Getting the basic sales process right, and building other elements to support it, is a blueprint that leads to a successful business.

This could be applied to face to face selling situations, to online social media contact, to social sales relationships, to online lead generation, to email nurture, and so on.

It also helps to identify other stages that support the core, such as having a range of things to offer to a prospect as steps towards a purchase. And then look beyond the purchase to see how you can help them to use and gain early benefit from whatever it is they’ve bought.

Other Sales Techniques and Call Sequences

The FAB approach – Feature, Advantage and Benefit.

This is incredibly simplistic and rarely used these days, in B2B selling at least. It tends to be too formulaic, scripted and not buyer focused. It’s referred to in this summary of Personal Selling on Wikipedia.

The SPIN approach

You may have heard of SPIN as a sales technique. This apparently was developed by Neil Rackham and published in 1988, although I thought is was around earlier than that. Anyway, it stands for:

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Implications
  • Needs pay-off

It is an easy structure to go through for a fact-find, and explore the costs and frame the benefits in financial terms to the buyer. It is more buyer focused than a product feature and benefit approach.

The Commercial Teaching approach within the Challenger Sale methodology

This is primarily for larger more complex sales situations but can be adapted for one to one situations.

The choreography of a sales presentation – or a sales call – that CEB have developed is:

  1. The Warmer
  2. The Reframe
  3. Rational Drowning
  4. Emotional Impact
  5. A New Way
  6. Your Solution

This is a totally different approach to the frequently used sequence of “Who we are, who we work with, what we do, how we do it, what it will cost” with suitable tailoring to each client.

I’m a big fan of Challenger and have helped clients to change the way they convey their value both online and face to face by applying Challenger techniques. I highly recommend the Challenger Sale book if you’re keen to develop your solution selling capability.

Next Steps

When did you last review your sales and marketing processes to see how they could be improved?

If you’d like to discuss these points, and maybe develop a new structure for your marketing and sales process, taking into account the changes in buyer behaviour, and link it back to LinkedIn, then get in touch with me, Mark Stonham, by clicking the image below, and schedule a call.

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