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Foundation Sales Skills

AIDA

AIDA

Perfect Pitches

Nick Fawbert
/ Categories: Sales, Toolset

I spent almost half my career working in outdoor advertising.

It’s a crazy environment, where brands have a few seconds at most to grab the attention of passers-by and coax them one step further along the path to a purchase.

So I guess that none of us should be surprised that it’s a showcase for the best and the worst of what the marketing industry has to offer.

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But few people know that outdoor advertising was also the source for one of the very first frameworks for modern business development.

It’s one that continues to be used with enormous success, and if you want to get ahead in business, you can’t get by without it.

What’s more, you can learn it right here, right now.

In fact, if you read on, we can create a short, powerful 200 word statement that might just change your future!

HINT | Leveraging Frameworks

Great frameworks are like an inspiring recipe. They provide a useful set of ingredients and a general guide for execution.

They give you the flexibility to adjust, adapt and amend to suit your tastes. They empower you to showcase your individual skills and add in the unique ideas that keep people coming back for more.

The real success of a framework lies in your personal touch, the things that you do to make it special.

A successful framework often gets confused with an instruction booklet, but follow the instructions too rigidly and you’ll end up with a bland, predictable outcome that will be instantly forgotten.

So use frameworks wisely: capitalise on the crucial ingredients, but be flexible in your execution.

But first, we need a little context...

A Consumer Revolution

The sales profession as we know it now has its roots in the Industrial Revolution.

Not only did mechanized industry draw vast numbers of citizens into cities, but it delivered productivity, efficiency and economic benefits that created widespread surplus income.

That 'disposable' income powered a cash rich middle class, and the luxury goods market burst into life to meet demand.

Oversupply drove competitive marketplaces, and for the first time manufacturers, distributors and retailers found themselves fighting to attract the wallets of their customers.

A Marketing Revolution

Fierce competition demanded professional expertise, and independent agencies popped up across surging markets making wild promises of commercial success.

But a US based business professional called Elias St Elmo Lewis didn’t think much of either their claims or their delivery.

Launching The Advertiser’s Agency in 1896, he poured scorn on other advertising he found on lampposts, hoardings and pamphlets he found around the city, and resolved to make a science out of commercial conversations.

Piece by piece he crafted his framework for effective sales techniques, until by 1907 he had the key components in place…

Elias St Elmo Lewis had created AIDA.

AIDA

It’s a fairly simple structure…

  • Attract attention
  • Awaken interest
  • Create desire
  • Drive action

…and it’s one of the most important things you’ll learn in business.

It’s the number one tool for engaging with colleagues and customers alike.

It’s a structure that can just as effectively communicate an idea as a product or service in such a way that it not only illustrates the concept, but that it does so in an impactful memorable way that’s easy to share between all stakeholders.

Its overriding benefit is simplicity. It’s easy to remember and easy to apply.

Its success derives from two factors:

  • It is so easy to deploy at a moment’s notice. It provides you with a quick checklist for what you’re doing and why you are doing it.
  • It makes you think less about yourself, and more about how you are being received. It allows you to see yourself from a customer perspective.

What it won’t tell you is what to say – other frameworks such as DIPADA and SPIN are much more helpful from that perspective.

Most importantly, you can put it into play as you’re reading this tutorial.

Awareness

Grabbing a customer’s attention leverages four key attributes:

  • Novelty
  • Relevance
  • Importance
  • Urgency

Those are the four factors that make the Wonderbra poster work - and they're selling self-esteem, self-confidence, status and sex!

Whether you’re proposing a business venture, an investment or a product or service, the same four rules apply.

It’s an integrated talent development service that’s not been seen before in Asia Pacific. It reduces the time and cost of staff development by 50%.

It has an instant impact on revenue growth, and we’re releasing it to the market this month.

If you pick up the habit, it’s an exercise that you can apply to any idea at any moment.

You can try it now: think of an idea, a product or service that is front and center of your to-do list and compose a fifty-word summary that embraces those four key factors.

Rewrite it again (and again) until it communicates the idea as clearly and compactly as possible.

Then commit it to memory.

Interest

Maintaining a customer’s interest is about ensuring that your conversation remains relevant and that their investment in you delivers a pay-off.

This means that we need to look at things from our customer’s perspective:

  • What are the biggest things that affect…
  • What are the biggest priorities…
  • What are the problems we can resolve…
  • What does an effective solution look like…

A successful approach inspires the customer to imagine and anticipate the outcome of interacting with you in terms of the benefits they can accumulate.

It capitalizes on your awareness statement to seed an idea:

We improve the skills and capability of your team in terms of their foundation knowledge, how they put that into practice and how they create new and exciting business solutions.

Most of all we improve how they apply those to drive customer acquisition and revenue growth.

To make this work for you, go back again to your fifty-word summary.

Now create a new fifty-word statement that communicates what it means from a customer perspective. Think about what it means to them, how they can take advantage of it, and what the experience feels like.

As before, write it, rewrite it and commit it to memory.

Desire

It’s almost never enough to have a great idea that delivers the solution a customer needs.

To drive the business forward they’ve got to want it.

That means we need to demonstrate how you resolve an idea and generate a positive outcome:

Think about the challenges your customer may face:

  • Risk factors like competitor activity
  • Business factors like budget periods
  • Time factors like seasonality
  • Scarcity factors like availability
  • Delivery factors like resources
  • Financial factors like discounts

Then think about the outcome you can deliver:

Customers we work with tell us that they experience so much more energy in the team, greater motivation and excitement, confidence and commitment, creativity and results.

They’re beating their targets and collecting their bonuses.

Return once more to your attention and interest statements and visualize the outcome that your customers need. Connect it with your activities and get it down on paper.

Write it, rewrite it and commit it to memory.

Action

There’s no use generating all this enthusiasm unless we have a plan to put it into action.

This means listing the desirable activities, the proposed solutions and the expected outcomes.

It means documenting a roadmap and establishing the action points and necessary customer confirmations at each stage.

And of course if you’re talking about an investment this is the time to put it into the best possible light.

I’d like to sit down with your team and identify their needs. We can sit together to prioritize and escalate the solutions that will deliver the greatest benefits in the shortest amount of time.

I’ll get all of that down into an action plan that you can share with your colleagues.

And for the final time, it’s back to you and a fifty-word summary for your own idea.

Write it, rewrite it and commit it to memory.

All you need to do now, is put it into play:

We can get the first stage complete by the end of the month if we start now.

Does that work for you?

I like it. Can we organize a discussion this week?

Get Started

The AIDA framework is simple and by necessity limited.

It provides a top-line structure to underpin business development activity both on a one-to-one basis and in more formal environments, and it reminds practitioners of the key components of effective pitches in a memorable format for instant deployment:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

But like any framework, use it as a guide, not as an instruction booklet.

But hey…

you have a 200 word summary to work with.

Get it tidied up and pitch it to a colleague, you never know what might happen!

Good luck!

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