This model is an oldie but a goodie. This sales method has been used in sales training since the 1950s, when professional sales training programs became the norm. It was developed over time and thought to be based on earlier psychological studies by Walter Dill Scott in 1913, but no official, specific source for AIDA is agreed upon. The acronym stands for:
- A – Attention
- I – Interest
- D – Desire
- A – Action
AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is one of the earliest sales models used in professional sales training, but is still valid today.
The model refers to the process that is required for a person to act on external stimuli – not just sales opportunities, though it is a perfectly valid model for sales. Anytime we make a sale, we must first gain the attention of our customer, and then generate some interest on their part to learn more about the product. Next, they must want the product – they must see the value in the product for their organization – before they will perform the action of buying. The applications for AIDA are broad enough that whether you are in advertising, marketing, or sales, AIDA is one tool you should remember. Let’s look further at each individual step.
Getting the attention of your customer is the first step, and is important because it sets the tone for your relationship going forward. As the saying goes, you only get a single chance to make a first impression, so be sure that you are representing yourself, your product or service, and your organization in the best possible light. Some additional things to remember about Attention are:
- Smile – even if you are having your first interaction over the phone. Behave in a natural, pleasant, and professional manner. People form their first impression of others in the first five seconds of meeting each other.
- Getting the attention of your prospects is even more difficult that it used to be. People have less time, more distractions, and are generally less accessible. This means that you need to plan an appropriate amount of time to get past the ‘gatekeepers’ that will be between you and your prospects. Be sure that you have thought about what the best time to reach your customers will be. Different industries or fields may have different work demands that will impact when you should attempt to reach them.
- All of us are inundated with attempts to get our attention every day. And in most cases, we’re used to the gimmicks or tricks that companies try to use to get our attention – and are often irritated by them. A unique approach with a focus on benefits for your prospect is the best way to get a customer’s attention.
- Don’t allow your failed attempts at getting attention to discourage you. You can expect to hear ‘no’ more often than ‘yes.’ Just remember that every ‘no’ is bringing you one step closer to the next ‘yes’.
How you get the customer’s attention and the first impression that you make will set the tone for your relationship going forward.
Once you’ve gotten the prospect’s attention, you can’t hold it unless you generate some interest. You usually have about 15 seconds to create that interest in your customer. Something will appear interesting to your customer if:
- It is relevant to the prospect and can provide some kind of advantage (benefit) for them
- You are approaching the person who has a need for your product or service
- You are approaching the prospect at the right time – both in the sense of convenience and in the sense of the correct time of year / correct timing for your prospect to use your product or service.
- You can talk the language of the prospect. You should be able to empathize with and understand the prospect’s situation, then express that understanding in a way that shows you have that understanding of their situation.
You usually have about 15 seconds to capture your customer’s interest
Once you have the prospect’s interest, you need to be able to grow that interest into desire for your product or service. This requires further development of your rapport and conversations with the prospect. This is when you can learn more about what the prospect’s needs are and how you can help them, plus it’s the chance for you to show that you are the right choice for the product or service they need. In this phase, you should:
- With the prospect, identify and agree upon the prospects:
To find this information, use a series of questions, being sure to rephrase what you think you have learned so that you can check for understanding.
- Build a level of rapport and trust such that the prospect feels comfortable doing business with you and your organization. Take every opportunity to help dismiss any of the prospect’s feelings that doing business with you personally could be a risk. Demonstrate your integrity, your knowledge, and your abilities.
- Understand what the prospect’s other options are for the product or service you are offering. What will your competition be offering? How can you distinguish yourself from the competition? What will the competition say about you and how can you respond to it?
- Be sure that you understand your own product or service inside and out. You want to be able to answer any questions that the prospect has, identify any particular advantages of your product over others, and be able to identify every way in which those advantages can help the prospect.
- You must be able to identify solutions from your selection of products and services, compile a proposal for your prospect, and explain in clear, exact detail how your solution will work, what the results will be, and any areas that might exceed the customer’s expectations.
- Demonstrate that you have taken any constraints into account in your presentation for the prospect.
Taking the customer from interest to desire requires that you learn more about what the prospect’s needs are and how you can help them.
If you have completed the first three stages thoroughly and well, this final stage of action should flow forward easily. The customer will have a strong desire for your product or service and will believe that you are the right choice to be their provider. It now only remains for you to get the customer to take the next step; the action which will commit the customer to your services.
- Caution, hesitancy, or the simple fact that there is so much more to do these days for all of us may mean that it takes some follow-up efforts in order for you to get the final commitment.
- If there is some hesitancy, there may be some objections that you haven’t addressed yet, or some concerns that need to be discussed. Use your questioning skills to discover what information your customer may still need in order to commit.
- Make sure that you follow-up on any action that you need to take as soon as possible. You don’t want to let the customer think that their business wasn’t important enough to follow-up on right away
- Also be certain that your customer is satisfied with any installation, delivery, transfer, or other process involved in implementing your product. Remember, customer service shouldn’t end with the sale.
If the first three stages have been done thoroughly and well, this final step will flow easily.