Successful selling is not random luck or even about having the gift of the gab, but about structure and guidance.
This is as true for the street market trader as is it is for high end capital sales.
The AIDA model for sales has been around for some time now and is a useful guide to handling any sales process.
NO – it is not a cunning plan to sell using a well known nineteenth century opera by Giuseppe Verdi, but a mnemonic that stands for:
It is a useful guide whether you are selling online or face to face and is a collection of simple ideas.
First you grab the prospective buyers Attention. This could be a special offer or it may be a feature set they have never seen before.
Once you have their attention, you can then give them some additional information to spark their Interest further. This can be something like the special offer ends tomorrow, or the feature set is new and superior to competitors’ models at the same price.
With the additional information offered and when their interest is engaged, you can then guide them towards a Decision.
Once the decision has been made, it is followed by the Action which is ideally the sale.
This process idea stands up even if the ‘sale’ is just some action we want someone to take such as supply information.
The Sales Funnel
The AIDA model for sales is also known as a sales funnel (see picture above) and works on the basis that, as you work your way down, numbers will reduce. You may grab lots of people’s attention, but fewer will be interested and fewer still will make a decision to buy.
If the sale is face-to-face or even over the phone, the time span between attention and the buying action can be very short. However, online it may become extended as the opportunities for additional research at the decision stage are literally infinite.
The challenge is to provide the right level of guidance that shortens the decision making process so that the path to the sales action is both quick and easy.
That is not the only challenge of course. The other major challenges centre on the loss from one stage to another. Ideally, everyone who’s attention we have grabbed will be interested. Better still if everyone who is interested then makes a decision to buy. Of course it does not work that way in real life and only a certain percentage will move from one stage to another. The other challenges are therefore centred on reducing the loss between each stage.
AIDA Model for Website Marketing
The AIDA model when applied to website marketing and sales has to work on different footing from face to face sales.
The big danger with the AIDA model is seeing it purely as a numbers game. The more people we can grab the attention of, the more will be interested etc.
It is to a certain extent a numbers game, but it is also a percentages game. Often, increasing the percentage of people who are interested enough to make a positive buying decision is easier than increasing the number of people who are interested.
For example, let’s say you have 1000 people per day coming to your website – you have grabbed their attention somehow. Of those 1000, typically 50% stick around to find out more and visit a few pages to get enough information to make a decision.
Of the 50% that stick around (ie 500), 20% decide to buy – ie 100. If we go back to the original visitor figure we can say that we have an overall success rate of 10% – ie for every 1000 visitors, 100 will buy.
So the question is: if we want to make the sales figure more than 100 per day, will it be easier to get more visitors per day, or increase the conversion rate?
Often it will be easier to improve the things directly under your control. Changing the website structure is usually easier than increasing traffic. It can often be much easier to work on improving the conversion rate than increasing traffic.
Switching to this mindset is doubly powerful. Firstly, it makes it easier to get a short term result from an existing set up under your control. Secondly it means that when you do increase traffic to the website, the end result will be so much better, because your conversion rate is better.
The Long and The Short Game
We have been mixing up sales and marketing here and they are not really the same thing. Generally marketing is all about grabbing attention and engaging interest and sales comes in at the decision and action stages.
Generally speaking the shorter the time frame the less clear things can be. The time between the market trader shouting out his latest deal and you handing over your hard won English pounds can be very short indeed.
Equally the time between an initial web search and a decision to purchase can often be very quick.
In these instances it is very hard to distinguish where marketing ends and sales begins.
However, the speed and access to information does not always mean a quick sale. Whereas in the past finding the time to make a shopping trip meant that a decision might be required quickly, we can now shop on the internet any time we like.
Rather than driving a quick sale, always-on shopping means that solutions can be researched well in advance of a purchase and so the span of time from intitially grabbing attention to the action of a sale can run to days, weeks, or even months – if the offer is sticks around that long.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge comes in maintaining the relationship with the prospective purchaser all the way up to the decision point. That means, not forgetting them and not letting them forget us.
The opportunity comes in using a relationship initiated in the early days of her purchasing research to build trust and guide her to the right solution (ours).
This requires a substantial change in mindset for many sales people. The immediate sale can be preferable, but only if it works for both parties. Sometimes taking the sale too early can be good today, but risk additional sales at a later date if we damage trust.
The sale is important, but so is the relationship if we want secondary sales later – many of which may prove to be of a higher value.
The AIDA model is a simple idea that can be simple to apply or quite complex according to the situational needs. The important concept is that of a guided process that the buyer is taken through.
Done well, it delivers the right solution for buyer and seller alike and delivers long-term repeatable sales.