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September 24, 2004

Excerpts: The Cult of Mac - Part VI

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:44 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I started doing this because none of the sales associates could ever answer any questions about Apple products and I could, said WilliamLH (http://www.mymac2u.com/), one of the guys in aisle six. Why did I do this, with no pay, no outright reward? Because that is the type of people Mac users are. It is a passion, an obsession, a religion if you will. WilliamLH started visiting stores when he was out anyway, he said, but eventually he went every weekend when he had free time.
Occasionally, extra-zealous Mac fans would sabotage Windows PCs at stores, though it was more common to rearrange a magazine stand so that Mac magazines obscured the Windows ones.
The army of volunteer salespeople worked so well, Apple eventually co-opted the idea, first with Demo Daysone-off sales events coinciding with big shopping days or product launchesand then with a longer-term program overseen by MarketSource, a marketing firm.
Dan Oblak (http://macbigot.com/) became a Demo Day volunteerpaid $75 a dayand then an Apple Power Rep, which was more of a part-time job. As a Power Rep, Oblak spent about 10 hours a week, on top of his day job, supporting the staff at five local Circuit City stores. These are usually not people who spend every waking hour reading about and discussing the Mac, he said. But I do; and the exposure Ive had to the questions and concerns of the potential Mac customer is a tool that these stores can take advantage of.
Oblak was responsible for making sure all the Macs were running, the display area was neat and tidy, and all the signage was present and correct. On top of this, he put together a weekly Mac newsletter (http://homepage.mac.com/jdoblak/) for the sales staff and often made himself available throughout the week for advice. He didnt do any selling directly, although he often talked to potential customers.
My wife is a Mac widow, he said. Its a challenge. Many of these salespeople are a bit green, and there is high turnover in any retail environment, but little victories here and there make it all worthwhile."

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.