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THEORIES OF SELLING: Selling is considered an art by some and a science by other

s and has produced two


contrasting approaches to the theory of selling. The first approach distilled th
e
experiences of successful salespeople and to a lesser extent, advertising
professionals. Many such persons succeeded because of their grasp of practical,
or
learned through experience psychology and their ability to apply it in sales
situations. These selling theories emphasize the what to do and how to do
rather than the why . These theories, based on experiential knowledge
accumulated from years of living in the market rather than on a systematic,
fundamental body of knowledge.
The second approach borrowed findings from the behavioral sciences. John
A. Howard of Columbia Graduate School of Business was in the forefront of those
who adapted the findings of behavioral science to analysis of buying behavior; h
is
behavioral equation attempts to develop a unified theory of buying and selling.
There are four theories, the first two, the AIDAS theory and the right set
of circumstances theory, are seller oriented. The third, the buying formula
theory of selling, is buyer oriented. The fourth, the behavioral equation,
emphasizes the buyer s decision process but also takes the salesperson s influence
process into account.
(1)AIDAS Theory of Selling The theory- popularly known as the AIDAS theory, afte
r initials of the five words
express it (attention, interest, desire, action and satisfaction) is the basis f
or many
sales training programs are organized. According to the theory, the prospect s min
d
passes through five successive mental states: attention, interest, desire, actio
n, and
satisfaction so the sales presentation must lead the prospect through them in th
e
right sequence if a sale is to result.
The psychological writings of William James support this theory. Its construct i
s based upon experimental knowledge. It was in existence as early as 1898. Accor
ding to this theory during the successful selling interview the prospect's
mind consciously passes through five successive mental states : attention,
interest, desire, action and satisfaction. The sales presentation must lead the
prospect through steps in the right sequence if a sale is to result.
(i) Securing attention: In order to put the prospect into a receptive state of m
ind, the first few minutes of the interview are crucial. The sales person has to
have a reason, or an excuse for conducting the interview. If he has previously
made an appointment, this phase presents no problem, though
experienced sales personnel say that even with an appointment, a sales person mu
st
possess considerable mental alertness; and be a skilled conversationalist, to su
rvive
the start of the interview. As the prospect realizes the caller is bent on selli
ng
something, the sales person must establish good support at once. He needs an
ample supply of "Conversation Openness". Among other things, favorable first
impressions are assured proper attire, neatness, friendliness, amid a genuine sm
ile
just before the interview. Skill sales personnel often decide up on conversation
openness so that those remarks are about the prospects if they are favorable
comments about the prospect's business. A good conversation opens causes the
prospect to relax and sets the stage for total presentation.
(ii) Gaining Interest: Many techniques are used to intensify the prospect's atte
ntion so that it evolves
into strong interest. Some sales people develop contagious enthusiasm for the
product or a sample. Sales portfolios, flip charts, or other visual aids serve t
he
same purpose when the product is bulky or technical. One should search out the s
elling appeal that is most likely to be effective.
Sometimes the prospect drops hints, which the sales person then uses in selectin
g
the best approach. Some sales person stratagems to elicit revealing questions to
encourage hints by the prospects. Others are the prospect question designed to
clarify attitudes and feelings towards the product. Bug before identifying the
strongest appeal even experienced sale person do considerable probing, usually o
f
the question - and - answer variety. The prospect's interests are affected by ba
sic motivations, closeness of the interview subject to the current problems, its
timeliness, and their receptive, skeptical or hostile mood. In selecting the ap
peal to emphasize the sales person must take all these into account. (iii) Kindl
ing Desire: The sales person must keep the conversation running along the main l
ine toward
the sale to kindle the prospect's desire to ready - to - buy point. The developm
ent of
sales obstacles the prospects objections, external interruptions, and digressive
remarks may sidetrack the presentation during this phase. Obstacles must be face
d
and ways found to get around them. Objections need answering to the prospects
satisfaction. Time is saved, and the chance of making a sale improved if objecti
ons
are anticipated and answered before the prospects raises them. Good sales people
summarize what has been said earlier before continuing. Digressive should be
disposed of fact fully, with finesse, but sometimes distractingdepr ession is be
st
handled bluntly for example " well: that's all very interesting but to get back
to the
subject...".
(iv) Inducting Action: If the presentation has been perfect, the prospect is rea
dy to buy. However, buying
must be induced. Experienced sales personnel do not close until the prospect is
fully convinced of the merits of the proposition. The trial close, the close on
a
minor point, and the trick close are used to test the prospect's free action. Fo
r fear
of getting "No" from which they think there is no retreat some sales personnel
never ask for definite "yes" or "No . But it is better to ask for the order straig
ht
forwardly.
(v) Building Satisfaction: The sales person should reassure the customer that hi
s buying decision is correct
and that sales person merely helped in deciding. The order is the climax of the
selling situation. Building satisfaction means thanking the customer for the ord
er,