One of the challenges I brought up to Microsoft a couple times in meetings was how the carriers will be able to sell Windows Phone 7 to customers when there are so many variables already going against Microsoft. What I am about to share doesn’t hit all those variables, but it’s a good start.
So what are the variables I see that could roadblock Windows Phone 7 in retail stores. I am not real familiar with how carrier sales force works, but I think I know a enough to be dangerous. I spend time watching people in stores. I listen quietly to sales persons interacting with customers. I watch where people go 1st when they hit a Best Buy. Yes, I am a people watcher. So what do we have?
- Public perception. Like it or not, Microsoft has black eye in the mobile space that still hasn’t healed. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there that have never used a Pocket PC or Windows Mobile phone when the OS was somewhat innovative. You know, the days when Palm decided that Windows Mobile was good enough to throw on the popular Treo line. The days before Apple hopped in and changed the game. How do you lure customers that already have a preconceived notion that Microsoft Mobile sucks. Well, I think just throwing a demo phone in their hands at a store is enough to break the ice at least and get them looking. I know from talking with my 17 year old daughter that kids pick on other kids based on the tech they carry these days. She stopped wearing the “I’m a PC” shirt I got her from the company store for that reason. Public perception has to be overcome. I think the younger generation is too wise to not notice the knocks Microsoft has taken over the last few years.
- Training. This should be covered well. Microsoft actually has a couple private, online resources for retail sales force to learn the ins and outs of Windows Phone 7. If the store managers are doing their jobs, which I hope they are, this shouldn’t be an issue. In addition, I’ve heard that there are actual trainers helping out with training in person too. If you don’t know the OS enough to give a perspective buyer a proper demo, sales will be lost for sure.
- Personal Bias. This is a sore spot for me. I can not tell you how many times, during my people watching, I have heard a sales person at Target, Best Buy, and even an AT&T store talk a customer out of what they initially asked to see. With the iPhone being so popular, I can imagine how many times someone will walk into an AT&T store and ask questions about Windows Phone, only to leave with an iPhone because of a biased salesperson. I’ve seen it happen already at an AT&T store in Seattle. It was Windows Mobile at the time, but it happens for sure.
- Commission. I might be in right field here, but I am pretty sure that retail store sales force receive a portion of their income from commission. That said, what is to prevent a salesman from trying to sell an iPhone with half a dozen accessories over a Windows Phone 7 device that they may or may not even have a case for? If you are trying to make ends meet and you can sell an iPhone 4 with accessories instead of another phone that costs less, wouldn’t you, for the sake of your paycheck, try to sell the more expensive product?
I don’t know the answers to all the issues that are in the way here and I am sure the smart folks at Microsoft, AT&T, and T-Mobile probably has some sort of a handle on it, but they are still concerns and people are human. I just don’t want to see what I saw at Target when the Zune was launched. I had to get a manager over to find their Zunes. All 3 employees in the electronics department had no idea what a Zune was.
I am human too. This post was initially intended to share a post I found over at Forbes titled, “AT&T Dedicating Wall In Every Store To Windows Phone 7“.
This post showcases how much money Microsoft is investing in marketing for this launch.
Microsoft is said to be spending more than $400 million on marketing for WP7. Conn, an AT&T Senior Technical Architect who supervised the carrier’s partnership with Microsoft, described Microsoft’s planned TV ad campaign as “humongous”. Once that campaign has run its course, AT&T will reinforce Microsoft’s efforts with its own TV ads, he added. The carrier also plans to park “giant trailers” promoting WP7 outside major football games.
So, each of AT&T’s 2200 stores will have an entire wall dedicated to Windows Phone 7. Sweet. How can a potential customer miss that?
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