An Apple store employee told me to how sell the iPhone with a great success rate. His words:
Man walks into Apple Store.
Man: I’m thinking about getting an iPhone. But I’m not sure.
Apple Employee: Let’s walk over to the phones.
Man: So how does the iPhone work?
Apple Employee: Here. Try it out.
Man: But I don’t know how to use it. I have no idea how to even make a call!
Apple Employee: How do you suppose you make a call?
Man: Oh. I guess it’s this button here…and then I guess I just type the numbers here…
Time passes. Man stumbles upon 50% of phone functionality. Employee has not touched phone once.
This may not seem breathtaking, but compare this to my experience in the Sprint store, when I purchased a Palm Pre.
Me: I’d like to check out the Palm Pre.
Sprint Employee: Let me get the demo Pre…here it is.
Me: How does it work?
Sprint Employee: [Employee holding Pre] Well you swipe this way to move between programs. And this button brings up the menu…[5 minutes later]…
This is the absurdity of teaching a technology via traditional, lecturing techniques. The best way for someone to understand a technology is to experience it themselves (UX experts, hopefully we’re all nodding in agreement). Apple has figured this out and Sprint is in the dark ages. Poor Palm.
But more importantly, it illustrates the power of exploiting cognitive biases. I’ve written quite a bit about biases recently, and Apple employs a very important one: the endowment effect. It says that people value something more when they possess it. Here’s the bias in practice:
- Group 1: shown an assortment of random, trinket objects: rubber bands, paper clips, beer cozy, post-it notes, etc. They were asked to value each object–all were roughly valued the same.
- Group 2: shown the same objects, but were told that they could keep the beer cozy after the experiment. The value of the cozy doubled for these respondents. [academic source]
Car salesman are aware the endowment effect–that’s why they let you test-drive the car. As soon as your hands touch the steering wheel, the endowment effect owns. Your perceived value of the car and the salesman’s close-rate increases. In short, sales are difficult when products are behind a glass case (marketing experts, hopefully we’re all nodding in agreement).
Something to think about: are there any other instances of salesman using psychological maneuvers on customers?