What Does the Sales Acronym AIDA Mean?

glos•sa•ry (n.) A list of words and their definitions. Photo © Southernpixel


AIDA is an acronym developed in 1898 by advertising pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis. It describes the steps that a prospective customer goes through before deciding to buy.

Attention – The first stage of the buying process. A salesperson's job is to catch the prospect's attention well enough to get them to listen further. Some versions of AIDA refer to the first stage as 'Awareness,' meaning that the prospect becomes aware of options.

This is the stage most prospects will be in when you cold call them.

Interest – To bump prospects to the second stage, a salesperson must develop their Interest in the product or service. This is usually where benefit phrases come heavily into play. Many marketers successfully use storytelling in their direct mail packets to get their prospects interested. If you can raise enough interest, you can get the prospect to commit to an appointment at which you can move them further along the sales process.

Desire – In the third stage, prospects realize that the product or service is a good fit and will help them in some way. Salespeople can bring prospects to this point by going from general benefits to specific ones, often using information uncovered during earlier stages to fine-tune the sales pitch. Keep in mind that there are different levels of desire; if a prospect just feels a mild need for a product or perceives it as a "want" rather than a "need," he may decide not to buy right away.

Action – The fourth stage occurs when the prospect decides to take Action and become a customer. If the salesperson carried their prospect through the first three stages and responded appropriately to any objections, this stage often follows naturally. If not, the salesperson may need to prompt a prospect to act by using closing techniques.

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