?Warm Fuzzy? = Joy Of Being A Mac Salesman

Rhetoric has a number of overlapping meanings; the practice of oratory; the study of the strategies of effective oratory; the use of language, written or spoken, to inform or persuade; the study of the persuasive effects of language; the study of the relation between language and knowledge; and, of course, the use of empty promises and half-truths as a form of propaganda. Nor does this list exhaust the definitions that might be given. Rhetoric is a complex discipline with a long history….

We favor works that treat rhetoric in its broadest and most powerful manifestations, as a force in society and a factor in the creation of knowledge, rather than a technique for stylistic manipulation.

Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg,
The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present

(SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA) – "Hey, Rodney, I gotta hand it to you: you sure do stay up to date on that Mac stuff. Iim not as dedicated as you are."

A co-worker said this in response to his finding me on the sales floor, reading through Gene Steinbergis The Little Mac OS X Book. You see, I spend a couple of weekends a month selling Macs at a computer store in Minneapolis. In addition to providing extra money to subsidize my continual acquisition of gadgets, I also get a chance to play with the latest hardware and software from the Cupertino House of Ideas. Part of my regimen is to read up on the latest features on the Mac OS and Apple hardware. My co-worker was applauding my initiative. To be honest, this is a needed weekend diversion. I tell customers that, for me, itis "therapy," because I have to deal with PCs during the week at my day job.

But there are other, less selfish reasons I like doing this. It is best summed up by the encounters I have with customers.

I am often amazed how customers are when they find out that, not only do I understand and know a good bit about Macs, but I also like and use them. The average customeris Mac sales experience doesnit normally consist of dealing with a sales guy who is actually supportive of and gives a damn about the platform. Iim sure that I donit have to recount for you the sorry state of Mac retail in places like CompUSA and Circuit City. To be honest, they make it easy for Mac sales people like me to appear as a comparative breath of fresh air to our customers.

There are many gratifying instances where Iim pretty proud to be a Mac sales guy:

  • One Sunday, this gentleman comes in, looking for an AC adaptor for his PowerBook G3 "Wall Street." He was catching a plane to Washington, D. C., and needed the adaptor right away. We didnit have any in stock. I had a PowerBook G3 at home. He said heid pay me well above retail for it. We looked up the price on the web, and he paid several dollars above retail. It cost me a trip home during my lunch break (my wife is now used to me bringing home "stray" Mac users), but was worth it.
  • A few Sundays later, a couple from Columbus, Ohio, stopped by with the same problem. We still didnit have any in stock (not even those "old" iBook" and "Pismo" adaptors), but I told them that a local VAR (Value-Added Reseller) has some, but werenit open until Monday. I told them Iid charge up their PowerBook battery. They didnit know that they could put their second battery into the right media bay. So they left their laptop with me while they toured the Twin Cities. When they came back, they made me promise to visit them if Iim in Columbus. They left their home phone numbers.
  • The Apple employee who comes in from time to time, asking me why I donit work for Apple. "Can they afford me?" I quip. We laugh. I try to press him for "the dirt" on upcoming Apple products. He doesnit give in. Bastard.
  • The tips and tricks I learn from customers. Someone told me that thereis a way to replace the Finder in OS X with third-party file browsers, for example. I donit know if that will work, but itis interesting to get my mind expanded with such ideas.
  • The "Unix geeks" who come in from time to time to show me some command-line hacks. As if I remember all of them…
  • The times where Iive been invited to speak at local Mac user groups. These have been, honestly, my more pleasurable experiences because I get to do a great deal of public speaking, which I love. I also got a chance to show off things like my G4 Cube and my copy of OS X (when it was a new thing).
  • The hearty thanks from customers for my being willing to take time to sell Macs. Customers really appreciate it. There are customers I know who have said that they would spend much more money in the past on Apple hardware and third-party hardware/software if there were Mac-friendly sales people on staff to make the stores a more welcoming environment for them. A day doesnit go by where some customer comments on the fact that our store is the first one theyive seen in a long time with knowledgeable sales staff it the Mac departament/section.

The gratification I receive isnit the money; itis the feeling that Iive helped the Mac community, as well as the concomitant thanks. Hey, Iim a bleeding-heart weenie when it comes to helping other Mac users. Sue me.

There are many of you out there who have the spare time to support the cause in this small way. Iim sure that there is an Apple Store coming near you. Apple is looking specifically for Mac users to man the stores, part time or full time. Even if the Apple Store isnit coming near you, there are the CompUSAs and other stores in desperate need of staff. They probably need Mac-savvy sales people more than the Apple Stores ever will. If youive never experienced any of the warm fuzzies Iive described above, maybe you should consider being a catalyst to change all of that.

I personally try to make the Mac shopping experience a pleasurable one for my customers. Even if they buy nothing, I like creating those warm fuzzies for them. Even if they donit buy anything, they often buy something later, or send in people who will. So, even if Iim getting and receiving nothing but warm fuzzies, I do help contribute to Appleis bottom line. The ultimate result is Apple keeps producing and innovating all of those cool and productive products that we know and love.