TMO Short Take -- Do the Apple Stores Need Evangelists... or Salesmen?

Jones said, "I wanna get someplace. I like to get someplace good, be gainfully employ, make me a livin wage."

"Just what I suspected," Ignatius said angrily. "In other words, you want to become totally bourgeois. You people have all been brainwashed. I imagine that youid like to become a success or something equally vile."

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

In a few months, the Apple Store will be celebrating its first anniversary.

During its short existence, the pundits have weighed in with assessments ranging from predicting Appleis failure to predicting Appleis guaranteed success (if only Apple would listen to the punditis sage advice).

I consider myself one of the latter. I see Appleis retail entreé like many of you do: as a good idea that is merely in the first stage of its implementation. Since this is the first stage, it would only be logical for Apple to have a grand vision of Apple Stores located in most major cities of the developed world,

So, I got to thinking: if Apple plans to expand beyond its current 25 or so stores, there are some things that will have to be taken into account. Admittedly, some of those things are just wishes, like my suggestion that they sell Apple-logoid merchandise. Iim sure you have your list of wishes, like location suggestions for future stores.

What Apple will really need to take into account, however, is the need for good, solid sales people in the Apple Stores, people who not only know and love the Mac, but those who also possess sales skills.

Iive read Mac usersi complaint about an apparent dearth of competent sales people at Mac retailers, namely CompUSA. We should hasten to add to the discussion, however, that this isnit a phenomenon suffered just by the Mac retailers. Sales is a thankless job, and itis hard to find and retain that special kind of person who can sell.

The Apple Stores are an even bigger challenge. Mac users are a rare breed, and Mac users who can competently sell Apple products are an even rarer breed. I know plenty of Mac users who could make excellent Apple retails sales people. There are many of you who would fall under this category. You are the people I am directing this "Short Take" towards.

There are those of you who love walking into computer stores and "selling" Macs to customers. You may be the same people who complain about how you think Apple needs better sales representatives in its stores. Well, I have a suggestion for you: apply for a part-time or full-time sales position in the Apple Store coming to your area.

Mac users love to complain and gripe about what Apple is or is not doing. The topic of Apple Stores is no different; therefore, Iid like to ask you to apply for a Mac-sales job if you believe that Apple could use some better sales people.

Even if you think Apple Stores are already doing a good job with retail staffing, you should still put your name in the employment hat. If Apple is opening more stores, the company will need all of the good sales people it can get.

Being a critic is easy. Pointing out problems is even easier. Helping solve the problem is even easier. So, if you complain about how Apple could use better sales people, how about offering yourself as that better sales person. Youid have fun, make some money and get to play with all of the latest Apple gadgets. The headline for this column asks if Apple needs evangelists or salesmen. The answer is that Apple needs you. So, apply for an Apple Store job.

Either that or shut up complaining :-)

Rodney O. Lain has sold Macs at Best Buy, CompUSA and Micro Center. When he isnit showing that heill do anything for an employee discount, he writes his "iBrotha" column for The Mac Observer, as well as the occasional editorial. He lives in Minnesota.