AIDA Model

AIDA is the original sales training acronym, dating back as early as 1898, and describes a common list of events that a sales person can follow when selling a product or service. The AIDA model is attributed to American advertising and sales pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis.

Back in 1898 when Lewis first devised his AIDA funnel, customer studies were conducted in the life insurance market to explain the mechanisms and the psychology of personal selling. His studies found that the most successful salespeople were those who following a hierarchical, structured approach to selling which used the four cognitive phases that buyers follow when accepting a new idea or buying a new product.

Funnily enough, the AIDA model is probably more relevant and useful today than it was back when it was first created. Modern theories, distractions and aversions to pushy sales people can often cause sales professionals, managers and companies alike to look for increasing original and innovative ways to sell their products. Instead, what they should be doing is going back to the most basic and obvious requirements and features need to successfully engage a prospect.

If you are plying your trade in sales, advertising, marketing and/or are communicating directly with potential customers and you can only learn one sales or selling model; remember AIDA.

Sometimes known as the Hierarchy of Effects Model, AIDA describes the basic process for motivating people to act on an external stimulus (such as a new idea or product), which includes the way successful selling happens and sales are made. Here is the acronym broken down:

A – Attention
I – Interest
D – Desire
A – Action

This AIDA model can also be applied, and has been successfully over many years, to advertising and marketing literature aimed at generating a response, making it a useful and reliable template.

This simplistic sales approach works on the basis that anything we buy comes as a result of the AIDA model and because of the that, the best way to sell is also through the AIDA approach. So first, something gets our attention, and if it is relevant to us we become interested in it. If the product or service fulfills a particular want or need we might have, or is special, unique or rare, then we start to desire it. If our desire is strong enough to overcome our natural aversion to purchasing, we then become motivated to take action, buying the product or becoming more susceptible to the salesperson trying to sell to us.

Here are some tips and ideas for using the AIDA model in your selling process:


  • First impressions count. You have only 5 seconds before your prospect forms an opinion of you, so make it a good opinion. Smile, be polite and courteous, but also be different. Surprise them.
  • Think outside the box. When making sales calls, you often will get blocked by gatekeepers like PA’s and receptionists, so you don’t get attention from the decision makers. Adopt your calling times to before 8.30am and after 5.30pm – times when the decision makers may still be in the office without other people to take the calls!
  • Be honest. People are sold to every day on television, on the streets, over the phone and via email and it is irritating. Remain honest and avoid gimmicks, tricks and crafty techniques and you will predispose the prospect to you, making it easier to sell.
  • Relax. Nothing deters attention from a prospect as quickly as a nervous, sweating, mumbling, stuttering salesperson. 80% of the time, you’ll get a “No” so just relax and enjoy the process. Treat it like a game and you’ll learn to have fun selling.
  • Use good openers. As stated, you have 5 seconds to grab them so don’t waste it. Use pulling statements like, Have you ever….?, Are you noticing….? and Can you see….? to address their problems and concerns head on, right away.


  • Make an impact. You have 5-15 seconds to make an impact and create interest. Make your first statement simple and relevant.
  • Keep it relevant. To keep their interest, the person or business must have a specific want or need for the product or service you intend to sell. If not, then why are you wasting time pitching to them?
  • Engage your prospect. Get your prospect actively involved in the pitch. Demonstrate products and services, ask them to use the product themselves, keep them engaged and show how the product works instead of trying to hit them with a hard sell.
  • Express yourself in simple terms. Nothing loses an audience quicker than bloated pitches filled with jargon and confusing terminology. Remember the KISS model: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
  • Avoid the bordom factor. No matter how good you are at getting interest, if you pitch for too long you run the risk of overcooking the sale. That could be in the form of confusion for the prospect or, worse still, bordom and disinterest. Say what you have to say quickly, get them interested and don’t keep pushing.


  • Build trust. You must create trust and build rapport with your client to dispel any fears or doubts they may have in you and your integrity before they can truly desire what you are selling.
  • Use social and economic proof. Show them how others are excited about the product, quoting big orders from other, possibly rival, companies that have acquired the product and approve it it.
  • Solve a problem. Describe to your prospect precisely what your product will do to help them with their specific problem or need, citing cost, time or other advantageous factors that the product will save them if they place an order.
  • Use scarcity. If applicable, you can show them that the product will not be available for long and that they may not have another opportunity to place an order.


  • Convert. Once you have gained attention, established interest and sparked desire, the next logical step is to convert that into action. Whether that is an order, a provisional order or any other end goal you are aiming for.
  • Ask for the business. Natural caution and inertia quite often dictate that clear opportunities are not acted upon by purchasers. Basically this means that if you want to close, or continue the discussion of, the sale then you as the salesperson must suggest that to the prospect. Ask, and you shall receive.
  • Summarize. Towards the end of the pitch, summarize what you are offering and cite their specific problems and needs when doing so. This recap gets everything you have discussed back into the front of their mind, ready for them to make a decision.
  • Use the right closing questions. Asking a closed question such as, “Would you like to go for that today?” instantly casts doubt into the mind of the prospect. If you have done your job right and successfully covered their needs and how your product solves them, you can ask, “Would you like to go with the blue or the red?” or, “How many would you like for your initial order?“. If a further meeting is required, don’t ask a generic, “When would you like to meet?“. Instead, ask “What day shall we meet next week?“.


    In more modern times, c.1980′s-1990′s, the AIDA model has been adapted and extended. The most popular of which is AIDCA, which means the same as AIDA but with the addition of Commitment prior to taking action. Commitment can and often is implied by the Action stage but the reasoning here is that there are more likely to take action if they have committed to purchase beforehand. As any salesperson knows, orders can and do get cancelled prior to payment and goods changing hands and by using the AIDCA model, this is less likely to happen.

    The other acronym is to add an S for Satisfaction to the end of either AIDA or AIDCA to become AIDAS or AIDCAS. This part of the sales process is based around the assumption that loyal, happy customers will be happy to purchase from you time and time again. Quite often this is true, but it is not always the case and many people do not feel it is necessary as a step, since you should be satisfying customers anyway. For most uses, AIDA and AIDCA are all you will need.

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