Apple Inc. (AAPL) made financial headlines recently when it surpassed Microsoft (MSFT) to become the largest company in human history by market capitalization. Since its founding in the famous Los Altos garage some 36 years ago, the company has revolutionized the personal computing and consumer electronics industries. The world's most valuable brand cultivates a cult-like following among its loyal fan base. New product launches create Beatlemania-esque hysteria as Apple customers crowd malls and line city blocks in hopes of becoming the first among their peers to snatch up the latest iThis or iThat.

Apple's primary focus has always been great product design. Steve Jobs' obsession with the symbiotic relationship between hardware and software, coupled with his keen sense of industrial design, have produced not only great machines but beautiful and historic cultural objects as well - at a price point that makes keeps customers in check and shareholders smiling.

It just goes to show, great products can sell themselves - right?

Maybe not. Another headline recently hit the blogosphere, as Apple's secret Genius training manual, outlining the training regiment that all Apple Store employees (or Geniuses) must endure prior to hitting the floor, was leaked to the popular blog Gizmodo. It is described as "a penetrating look inside Apple: psychological mastery, banned words, [and] roleplaying." It is in essence a set of behavioral guidelines for executing sales and handling customer service, using a common approach among Apple Store employees.

The manual quite bluntly reminds trainees that: "Everyone in the Apple Store is in the business of selling." But Apple Store employees do not operate under the pretense of hitting any kind of quantifiable sales quota. Their overriding objective is to provide you - the customer - with a pleasant and rewarding shopping experience. It is their understanding of the qualitative, interpersonal aspects of selling - listening to the customer, formal presentation techniques, and the ability to diffuse anger and handle objections - that has allowed Apple to turn the traditional retail experience on its head.

Some of Apple's prescriptive techniques are described as robotic or even manipulative, but Apple is committed to teaching the human components of their brand the art and science of successful selling. At Carew International, we have a catalog of sales training and customer service training programs that we need not compare against with those at Apple - our track record of success speaks for itself. But understanding the inner workings of Apple's sales philosophy proves that even the greatest products cannot simply sell themselves. It takes great salespeople, equipped with the right tools, to build great companies.