A New Way to An Old Principle

The connection between sales and top-line growth appears to be simple right…sell more and your business grows more. If you are in deal-chasing mode and not into a cycle of building sustainable accounts, growing your company might not be so simple. An interesting article was brought to my attention this past week, “Solving the Sales Conundrum” (INC. April 2012). Jeff Hoffman, founder of MJ Hoffman and Associates and a teacher at Harvard and MIT, emphasized the old marketing principle called AIDA – or attention, interest, desire, and action. According to Hoffman, “No matter what you’re selling, you have to guide a prospect through each phase, and each one requires a different focus, a different language, and a different strategy.” Using a different strategy is a fresh approach to business development… a new way to an old principle.

AIDA stands for:

  • Attention – Attract the client’s attention. You have to stand out.
  • Interest – Demonstrate advantages and benefits…engage them.
  • Desire – Show that you can solve the client’s problem…differentiators.
  • Action – Get the client to take action (buy)…end result.

How are you getting your client’s attention?

Think about the first meeting…what are you going to say to this client that will really set your company apart from all of the others? In today’s technological world, the ability to touch a client has changed. To get their attention you need to be creative. Anyone can sell; but when you really understand your potential clients, you can impact them with definitive solutions. Be informed, research and gather information about the client’s leadership team, read their annual report, be familiar with their website. Getting their attention not only means to let them know that your brand exists, but also to inform them that you have the right option for them and you are ready to provide solutions.

Once you have your client’s attention how do you get and keep them interested?

You must demonstrate that what you have to offer is an attribute and a benefit to them that no one else can bring to the table. In the article Hoffman accentuates the point “what can I learn from you…what are your needs.” Focus on what’s important to them, not what’s important to you. Tell a compelling story of lessons learned, offer liquidity solutions, collaborate with external partners and provide useful information to help them create meaningful and comprehensive answers to solve their problem.

How can you differentiate from your competition?

Closely related to stage two is the third stage desire. In all likelihood, what you have to offer will not be totally unique. There will be several equally decent alternatives.  Research the potential client’s business and political issues. Pin-point the underlying issues and goals that drive the way project decisions are made.

What differentiator do you have that can solve these business and political issues?

Anticipate complex solutions to satisfy the broader issues of your potential client. A few examples of differentiators:

  • Liquidity solutions and financing options you can suggest…how can you save them money?
  • What does your team offer from the project’s inception to its completion?
  • What technical expertise does your company have available?
  • How can your expertise and experience add value to each and every step of the project?

End result…action

The final stage of AIDA is action. After getting your potential client’s attention, aroused their interest, and stimulated their desire, it is time for them to take action. Frankly, this is where your potential client is ready to act on your message.  They are prepared to sign the contract and buy your solutions to their problem.

Hoffman emphasizes, as you progress and look at each stage, how important it is to record any intelligence being gathered? There is a mixture of automated tools available. The WOA Dashboard is a real-time collaborative space for managing sustainable accounts. The dashboard allows you to leverage compelling data that motivates action which produces tangible results. The organization chart, business and political issues and key differentiators are part of a capture plan. Capture planning is the process of identifying opportunities, assessing the environment, and implementing winning strategies oriented toward capturing a specific business opportunity. Capturing all of the intelligence in one place will help you “connect the dots” and find paths to get the attention of your potential client for that first important meeting.

No matter the method, anyone can sell; but when you really understand your potential clients, you can impact them with definitive solutions— not just transactions.


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