The model is actually quite straightforward – it needs to be, because the skilled user of it has to remember it and, in the course of a conversation, for instance, be ready to shift from one stage to another, when they pick up signals from their audience that they have got the message of a particular step.
The same model is used to structure selling conversations, the writing of articles, press releases, presentations, blog entries, brochures, flyers, and even just letters. You can also use it to plan workshops, communication campaigns, advertising programmes, and lots more – literally anything that involves ‘selling’ through words is best communicated this way.
Before you start anything, it is important to spend time defining precisely what you are looking for from the sales activity. “Having had this conversation, I will have been successful if… I have an agreement to a further meeting.” “By the end of the presentation, I need to be able to walk up to anyone in the room and for them to know exactly what the service is that I am offering.” “I expect any visitor to the website to leave me their contact details and want me to call them.” It can be tough to define but it is a vital step.
The selling process is broken down into five steps, remembered by the acronym, AICDC.
A simple one liner or a short paragraph, that grabs the attention of the reader/listener. It can be provocative, informative, questioning, challenging, but it HAS to grab their attention. It shouldn’t lie, distort the truth, embellish, or mislead – any of those will annoy the reader when they find out.
This is the step that builds curiousity. It should contain enough information to make the reader/listener want to know more, but also feel that they now know more than they did before. It sounds a tough balance but it’s easy when you realise that lots of people don’t know when to shut up! Many people in a selling situation, try to flood their listener with far too much information – the important thing is pick up the signals that they are curious, then to stop yourself and move on to the next step. Easier when you are speaking directly with someone, harder with a large audience, and may involve some experimentation with the printed word. As a rule of thumb, this is going to be about 30% of your material – maximum. (If your material calls for loads of information, then distil the essentials for this step and provide the rest as handouts, an appendix, a data sheet, or some other medium for the person to refer to later – but don’t you dare then skip the rest of the steps until they have done so!)
This is where we try to build a sense of relevance to our audience. We take some of the features or information that we have alluded to in the interest step and show how it relates to the audience. This isn’t an excuse to keep the information giving interest building going on for longer! “When we spoke the other day, you said…, well our data suggests…” “I guess that one of the challenges you face is…, well…” “If we look at the figures for your home area…” “It must be tough managing that kind of problem, this could be the answer…”. Again, this is a maximum of 30% of your material/time/slides/words etc.
So, we move on to building the emotional connections. There’s rarely any need to refer to your own product, service, or whatever it is that you are trying to ‘sell’. In this phase, you are concentrating on helping the person experience what it will FEEL like to have your help, or sometimes, what it might FEEL like NOT to do so. “It would be a huge relief to know that…” “The sense of control that you feel having … is really reassuring” “I don’t know how you cope at the moment.”
Once you have a sense that they can see how good it would feel to ‘buy’ from you, then it is time to ‘close the sale’. I know this will sound awfully corny to some folks who don’t think of themselves as sales-people, but it really is vital. “Let’s fix an appointment when we can get together.” “When would be a good time for me to ring on Tuesday with the initial results?” “Give me your card, and I will send our terms through.”
There’s so many different ways of closing, that there could be a separate essay on those alone, but the important thing is that entering this process you had an idea of the outcome you were looking for and the close should achieve exactly that – not a half-baked intermediate step, but the actual outcome that you wanted.
And that, as they say, is that.
Remember that there were two earlier parts:
Part 1 : http://www.the-confidant.info/2009/writing-and-speaking-made-easy-part-1-the-pervasive-nature-of-selling/
Part 2 : http://www.the-confidant.info/2009/writing-and-speaking-made-easy-part-2-writing-and-public-speaking-are-both-creative-forms-of-selling/
Part 3 : http://www.the-confidant.info/2009/writing-and-speaking-made-easy-part-3-the-sales-model/