A common fear amongst direct sales consultants is that they will be perceived as being “too pushy.” The key to avoiding being perceived as pushy is to ensure that you make your interactions about your customer and about meeting her needs. Using a model called AIDA will help you determine just what those needs are.
AIDA is an acronym for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. These are the 4 stages a customer goes through when purchasing a product. The key to success is to match your sales presentation to the state that the potential customer is in. For example, you will not be well served by asking a customer to buy from you (Action stage) if he or she has never heard of you or your company (Awareness stage) in the first place.
How do you know what AIDA stage they are in? Simple! ASK QUESTIONS!!
Here are some examples of some Awareness questions:
Are you familiar with (company X)?
Have you heard of (company X)?
Have you ever tried (product Y)?
If the answer to these types of questions is “no” or “not really,” or “I’m not sure,” your customer is in the Awareness stage. You therefore need to focus on making your customer aware of who your are, what your company does, and what product you offer. How do you do that? If the customer is a stranger to you, tell her (briefly) about yourself. If the customer knows you but not your company, tell him about your company and the products you have to offer. Keep your information brief. Sharing that you are a director of product development at a bio-tech firm in San Francisco, that you have two young children and that you sell your product as a way to pay for your family vacations is enough. You do not need to give your customer your life story. Watch for signs that your customer would like to know more. If your customer is asking you questions, seems absorbed in what you have to say, and is displaying positive body language, he is moving on to the next stage – interest! If your customer is busy checking her phone, sitting with crossed legs and arms, and appearing totally uninterested in what you are saying, it’s time to wrap things up and move on to your next customer. Continuing to pursue the sale will make you appear “pushy” which is the very attribute you are trying to avoid.
If you determine right off the bat that your customer is already aware of your product and your company, ask some questions to determine their interest. For example:
Would you be interested in hearing more about our products?
Are there any questions you have about our products that I can answer?
If a customer answers “yes” or does have questions, be prepared to tell her about your products. Focus on the benefits of your product (e.g. this product can save you time and money or solve a problem. Example: our jewelry allows you to easily update your wardrobe without spending a fortune). The goal is to move your customer to the Desire stage – make them want your product.
To determine if your customer has reached the Desire stage ask questions like
Does (product Y) sound like something that would fit your need?
Can you see yourself owning (product Y)?
If they are in the desire stage, tell them how they can purchase the product from you. Tell them about any promotions, sales, discounts, or other incentives you have to move them to Action. They have the desire, but show them why they should buy from you and why now.
Even if your customer is in the Action stage, you can still lose the sale if you do not ask for it directly. Here are some examples of questions you can ask to help you decide if your customer is ready to break out her credit card (notice that in each question you are assuming your customer is going to place an order):
Have I answered all your questions before we complete your order?
Is there any additional information you would like before purchasing?
Shall we place your order?
Remember, that a good salesperson helps customers find the right product to meet their needs. Focus on your customers’ need, not on yourself. The AIDA model helps you focus on where your customer is, not where you are, in the purchasing process.
BONUS Tidbit: If you watch the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, based on the David Mamet play, there is a scene with a great cameo by Alec Baldwin badgering his sales team. Look at the blackboard in the background and you’ll see the letters AIDA written on it. Too bad Alec’s character didn’t focus on positive reinforcement of the AIDA model rather then badgering and humiliating his salesmen.
The Ultimate Sparkle team (www.ultimatesparkle.com)