I’m addressing a bit further the global sales boycott of Nokia. We all know Nokia sales hurt from strategy change in February 2011. Now I have already pointed out that global operator/carrier boycott Tomi Ahonen describes is FUD. But still Nokia lost sales and people were recommended Android and iPhone in the shops (unless they specifically asked for a Nokia phone). If there is no boycott, then what?

Let’s have Wikipedia define us boycott:

A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons.” [1]

Boycott described by Tomi Ahonen is all that. But as we have read, this is not how Nokia was losing market share. We know that people were recommended Android for iPhone if they ask for a smartphone, even after Lumias were available. (And yes, they were given Lumia if they ask for one.) So what are we witnessing then?
Customer service.

Let’s start with some Tomi Ahonen:

Retail sales are very simple proposition. The sales dudes and dudettes want to make commissions (and other sales bonuses and perks, win sales contests to get to that beach vacation etc). They are extremely simple to understand, purely money and transaction-efficiency oriented. If you as their sales manager can help them close on average one more sale per day, they will not fight you on the idea, however silly it might seem to ‘normal’ people. But if you try to do something that slows their daily sales work down, they will rebel at you immediately – and en force. Simple, easy, logical.” [2]

Sorry, Tomi but you have almost described sales people as programmable sales robots. “Just insert commission here and they sell crap to public.” They do think on their own, you know? However, you seem to fix that next, so let’s continue:

If you have a highly popular smartphone, that is in demand, there will be customers coming in to buy it. If the sales commission is good then the sales guy will want to close that sale immediately. Get the customer to sign on the dotted line, run the credit card, and pack the new shiny Lumia into that store bag and off you go, next customer please.” [2]

The sales staff learn VERY fast which phones have highly satisfied customers and don’t get returns, and which phones are hated by customers back home, and get high return rates. Have a guess which phones sell in that store, and which don’t. Spoiler alert – Lumia series has the highest return rates in Nokia smartphone history. The sales hit a wall almost instantly in all markets and now many retail outlets don’t even stock the Lumia models they still show in their window displays.” [2]

Tomi is right on that one – sales staff definitely won’t like to sell products that are rejected by customers. Such as Nokia Symbian devices people were ashamed of already in 2010. But Tomi fails to understand it goes beyond replacements. So customer walks into store and asks for a smartphone. No brand defined. Sales staff can tell from the looks that this is a well-earning person. Perhaps sell him Nokia E7? Or then iPhone. He can afford both. But now… iPhone has more apps coming in and E7 does not. Not to mention the unfortunately crappy UI of Nokia. Customer is probably more satisfied with more simple device with more apps, sell him iPhone then.
Next customer is a teen, not having so much money. Should you recommend Lumia 610 with good Facebook and Twitter integration, or some cheaper Android? Well… Android has more apps, Lumia could be more fitting to the teenager needs. Ask some questions and decide then which one to sell.
See where this goes?
When Stephen Elop said Nokia switches to Windows Phone he sent out signal that Symbian devices will lose support. Why to sell such a device to a customer? It’s not a boycott, it is simple customer service. You can read here that Tomi has no basis whatsoever to prove the high return rates of Lumia. Frankly, it seems they don’t have return rate issue. And this Tomi does not want to see as it cannot be fixed by firing CEO, which is what Tomi is after. Let’s hear him more:

So what has Elop been doing? Right from the start, when he saw problems, he blamed sales (yeah, they don’t like that).” [2]

Don’t worry, Tomi. I’m sure they love it when you give impression that operators/carriers can equally make them boycott Nokia phones that otherwise (in your opinion) would have been selling successfully. Or falsefully claim they are having sales boycott.

If your retail channel refuses to sell your product, you die. What did Elop recently do to his departed long term veteran Nokia global sales rep? Did Elop replace him with another gold-standard super veteran everybody-trusts-this-guy type, whose blood does not run red, it bleeds Nokiablue? No. Elop brought in his Microsoft Mafiadude who had never sold a phone in his life before Elop grabbed him, as now the global handset sales chief? What The F*ck?” [2]

Well, if we put Tomi’s Microsoft allergy aside, OPK time management spent 3,5 YEARS to get ONE Nokia smartphone operator deal (X7 on AT&T) done. Not to mention AT&T did “Darth Vader” and altered the deal. Nokia backed out from it. Now this “mafia guy” got Lumia 710 on T-Mobile and Lumia 900 on AT&T deals within a year.  And over half of that year the products were not even existing. I guess that is Tomi’s impression of bad management replacement?


Now don’t get me wrong. Nokia has a sales channel challenge. But it’s not “fear of returned Lumias” resales boycott. And it started before “Elop Effect”. Let’s look at news from January 25th 2011:

Almost all the smartphones we sell nowadays are Apple and Android – Nokia phones just don’t sell,” Fredrik Rudberg said. “The N8 sold very well right after the launch in Sweden and Norway, but Nokia does not have other smart phones in the highest price range” [3]

People in customer service try to sell customer a desirable product that has good value/price ratio. What Nokia suffers is the customer rejection of Symbian, worsened by Elop’s statement and led to market dominance of Android and iOS. This couples to relatively low app offering of Windows Phone. Customer needs to ask for Lumia. Or “sales dude” needs to like Lumia so much they recommend it nevertheless. So Nokia needs to make customers want Nokia phones again, like they did in the past. Getting sales people to like those products helps a lot.

Unfortunately conspiracy theories sell. We will hear more of this from Tomi Ahonen in the coming months.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott

[2] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/07/the-sun-tzu-of-nokisoftian-microkia-mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-whose-the-baddest-of-them-all-waterloo.html

[3] http://www.swedishwire.com/component/content/article/1:companies/8211:iphone-and-android-smash-nokia-in-sweden

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