Michael Hageloh spent twenty-two years with Apple, starting as a systems engineer before becoming a rainmaker, surviving the company’s near-bankruptcy, seeing the return of Steve Jobs, and selling products like the iPod to a skeptical world. While selling for Apple, he personally generated nearly $1 billion in revenue.
After leaving the company in 2010, Michael led academic sales at Adobe, where he facilitated (along with French banking and financial services firm Société Générale) a unique single licensing transaction valued at $11.7 million. Since then, he has taken on a consultative role with several startups in need of sales strategy development, coaching and sales execution, including modular electronics company littleBits.
Michael also has a deep background in academia, having served as the director of special projects for the University of South Florida’s Sales Education Initiative; a cabinet member of the University of South Florida’s Unstoppable Capital Campaign; a former member of the Florida Enterprise Zone Development Agency in the city of Ocala; a life member of the University of Florida Foundation; a former member of the President’s Council of Florida State University; a former member of the President’s Council of Florida A&M University; and a past event judge for Startup Orlando powered by Kauffman Foundation.
What was the impetus to write this book now?
I wanted to respond to the common misconception: "Don't Apple products sell themselves?" No, they don't. Apple built a world-class sales operation, and nobody knows it. This is that story.
For some time, I knew I had something to say, so I thought I'd write a book. Two manuscripts later, countless days at a WeWork facility, I had a publishable manuscript. Why write this book now? Because I tried earlier, and now I knew what I wanted to say.
Tell me a bit about the title, "Live from Cupertino: How Apple Used Words, Music, and Performance to Build the World's Best Sales Machine."
Apple was not a company; it is a band. It was the most musical company I've ever seen; most of the key people had musical backgrounds. The company made music, not products. I'm also a musician, so music was the thread that ran through my entire time at Apple.
I was a big part of the touring band that sold those products to audiences. Not the studio band that markets—the live performance.
Today, Apple products are ubiquitous. They are only that way because of masterful use of words, music, and performance.
How do you describe the book?
A personal journey of my time at Apple mixed with my own insights about what made our sales efforts so extraordinary, all framed in the process of taking live music from the rehearsal room to the stage.
You went through quite a ride during your time at Apple, what are some of the experiences that stand out the most?
The revolving door in CEOs, VPs, and others was stunning. I had nine leadership changes in 22 years. Here are some of their best quotes:
1. "You must insert yourself into the customer." -Michael Spindler
2. "These things sell themselves, just get out of the way." -Gil Amelio
3. "You guys get company cars?" -Steve Jobs
The book is full of anecdotes; more than that, it is a template for success.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about the Apple story?
That Apple's products were and are so incredible that no selling was required. I worked in the company's Higher Education sales, and we were keeping the company afloat during the bad old days before Steve Jobs came back. We didn't have charismatic products like the iPhone to sell; we were selling solutions to university provosts and the like. That was old-fashioned, person to person selling: sell yourself, then the company, and finally, the product.
Steve Jobs is now an icon. What about working with him most impacted you?
Steve was an icon. More importantly, he was an iconic salesman. He took you on a journey and conveniently at the end of the journey was a cache of Apple products. You were immediately bought in because of the journey.
Steve innovated the most crucial factor at Apple: sales. But no one talks about that. I wanted to be the first author to pull back the curtain and show people what made Apple's sales as unique as the rest of the company.
What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?
We are all not musicians, but we have a musical score in us. Discover your music, and you discover the final master skill of success: selling emotion. Just as Mick (Michael) Jagger, a former student of the prestigious London School of Economics, discovered music coupled with masterful vocal salesmanship on stage produces unheard-of success. Mick's estimated worth is $350M.
There are many talented musicians and much more technically gifted than Mick—CEO's better than Steve—but few break out. In this book, I take readers on a personal journey to discover the secrets that rescued Apple, and why it's difficult but essential to master three things if you want to excel in sales: words, music, and performance.
Live from Cupertino
How Apple Used Words, Music, and Performance to Build the World’s Best Sales Machine
Apple isn’t just a design and innovation powerhouse. It’s also a sales machine you’ve never heard of.
In twenty-two years with the Cupertino band, Michael Hageloh saw it all. The era of beige boxes and clueless CEOs. The company’s near death. The return of Steve Jobs. Triumphs like the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone. But you know that story. What you don’t know is that it was a sales operation built around music, storytelling, and passion that let Apple not only survive the hard times, but eventually change the world.
Now Michael—engineer, drummer, raconteur, and closer of nearly one billion dollars in Apple sales—takes you inside the sales culture that made Apple the world’s first trillion-dollar corporation. The big secret? Music. Music has been part of Apple’s DNA since the beginning, and in Live from Cupertino, Michael takes you inside a one-of-a-kind selling culture that’s amazingly similar to the process of taking music from rehearsal to live performance. If you’re dying to know how Apple did it, Live from Cupertino is your first chance to learn company secrets from someone who was there from the beginning.
A onetime disco drummer, Michael is a high-spirited speaker, a beat-ahead thinker, and a charismatic mentor. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Texas.