Buying is the complement of selling. While the customer is involved with buying, the seller is involved with selling. The sales professional has to understand how the customer’s mind works when making a purchase. With this knowledge, the sales professional will be able to use his persuasive powers more effectively to influence the customer in making a favorable buying decision. To move the customer through the buying process, a helpful selling strategy is a psychological process called AIDCA.
Five Stages of a Sale‒AIDCA
In persuading the customer to make a purchase, the seller can use an effective strategy that consist of five stages: (1) attention stage, (2) interest stage, (3) desire stage, (4) conviction stage, and (5) action stage. This is a process is called AIDCA. The creative sales professional leads the customer through these five mental stages of a sale. Each stage has definite characteristics. When the sales professional recognizes that the customer has reached a particular stage, he should try to lead the customer to the next stage.
1.- Attention Stage: When the customer becomes aware of a need or a want, the first stage has been entered, the attention stage. The customer’s attention may be drawn by a need or want for the product from an advertisement in a magazine, by a commercial on a television or radio program, or through the seller’s opening approach statement. The awareness of a need or want for a product may arise abruptly or develop over a long period of time. For example, a woman may turn on her washing machine and watch it sputter and grind to a stop. Suddenly, she needs either service or a new machine. She may have ignored ads on television by an appliance dealer for several months but now realizes the message and may become persuaded to go to the store and purchase a new washing machine.
It is obvious that the sales professional cannot begin selling until the customer’s attention has been focused on the product. If the customer does not have any need or want that the product could satisfy, the customer will not even start to think about buying it. The direct-to-home sales professional appreciates this fact because many times the door gets slammed before the sales professional has finished the opening statement in the presentation. The person on the other side of the door simply has no interest in the product and is therefore unwilling to give the sales professional his/her attention.
Because the sales professional must first get the customer’s attention, the sales professional makes an approach. The sales professional hopes that a buyer will provide an opportunity to go with the sales presentation. Some of the best suggestions in gaining the customer’s attention are to promise benefits, provoke curiosity, and mention favorable selling points and benefits. If the approach is successful, or if the customer’s attention is drawn to the product in some other way, the sales professional can lead the customer to the next stage.
2.- Interest Stage: Buyer has developed interest will pay attention to ads about products and services that will satisfy those needs. The customer will shop around and talk to friends to acquire information. Most importantly, close attention will be given to the sales professional’s presentation.
3.- Desire Stage: The next stage in the customer`s progress towards a purchase is the desire stage. In the desire stage, the customer wants the product and begins to hunger for it. It is possible for a customer to develop an interest in a product and yet not develop a desire for it. Customers are usually led towards the purchase of a product because they have needs or wants that the product can satisfy. But if customers have no strong feeling about their need, or consider their need to be trivial or unimportant, they may easily give up the idea of making the purchase. However, if customers deeply feel their need or want and the product appears to be a likely answer for the need or want, then a desire will be generated for the product. The sales professional can strengthen the customer’s desire for the product by appealing to the five senses and emphasizing benefits instead of features. Some helpful suggestions in arousing interest and creating desire are to immediately enlarge on the promise of several major selling points, clearly tell the benefits that the buyer will gain, show how easily the product is to use. Use prestige appeals, customize and personalize your presentation to the individual buyer.
4.- Conviction/Credibility Stage: If the sales professional’s demonstration and sales talk prove to be effective, then the customer moves toward conviction. In the conviction or credibility stage, the sales professional must be prepared to explain a benefit again, to demonstrate a feature of the product again, to handle the competition objection, or to offer proof of earlier statements about the product to convince the customer that the particular product best suits his/her needs. Much summarizing and reinforcing is done in this stage.
But, even if the customer is convinced that the product is the right one to buy, the customer may not feel that the purchase should be made. The customer may be unsure about the company’s credit arrangement, the sales professional’s reputation, service reputation, or whether the company will be able to make delivery by the time the product is needed. When a sales professional notices that the customer seems convinced that the product is right but is still hesitating, the sales professional must try to discover the reason for that hesitation. Experience is an important tool to the sales professional at this time. Arrangements can be made to satisfy the customer, within the limitations of company policy. Helpful ways to create credibility are to tell of the product’s popularity, give testimonials, provide assurances, proof, and warranties, and convey and accentuate the value.
5.- Action Stage: When the customer has decided to satisfy his need by making the purchase, the customer is in the action stage and the sale is made. Sometimes, however, the customer may be completely convinced that the product is right yet still hesitates to make the purchase. The process of completing a purchase requires making a decision, and most people are concerned about making the right decision. If the decision involves a good deal of money, it is often particularly hard for the customer to decide. A good knowledge of effective closing techniques comes in handy at this time.
The sales professional must help the customer to decide whether or not to take action. You can do this by saying, “Mrs. Taylor, I would suggest the lamp with the blue base. It would fit into your color scheme perfectly. Do you want to take it with you, or would you like to have it delivered?” Or you might say, “Mr. Thompson, if you place the order now, we can guarantee delivery by Friday.” At this point, the sales professional should always consider whether there are additional sales that could be made. If the customer has reached the action stage, the customer is in a receptive frame of mind. The sales professional can take advantage of the situation and make a multiple sale. This can be done by using a selling technique called suggestive selling which is suggesting related, added-on items once the customer has committed to buy the major product. The experienced sales professional, however, knows not to push a customer too hard at this point–or at any other point. Each customer must be handled individually. Pushing for an initial sale or for additional sales must be timed right, or it can alienate a customer. If the customer shows no additional interested in any additional purchases, the sales professional should concentrate on making sure the customer completes the original purchase and leaves happy.
Several helpful suggestions in bringing about action include making the choosing easy by giving yes/yes alternatives, tell how, when, and where to get the product, provide financing alternatives, name terms that are easy for the buyer, and point out the benefits that will be lost if the purchase is not made today.