According to research firm Gartner, 75% of B2B sales organizations will augment their traditional sales methods with guided selling solutions by 2025 to better connect with customers and drive conversion.
But what exactly is guided selling, and how does it benefit your business? More importantly, how can you deploy this practice at scale to help reach more customers and increase overall sales?
In this guided selling starter kit, we’ll cover the basics, including how this process works and how it can benefit your business. We’ll also dive into a few guided selling examples, cover some software tools that can help, and finish off with guided selling best practices to get this most from this approach.
Ready? Let’s go.
What is Guided Selling?
Guided selling is the process of analyzing current sales, historic sales, and customer data to help sales reps provide tailored product recommendations to customers and increase the likelihood of conversion.
How Does Guided Selling Work?
Guided selling is similar to solution selling, in that it uses collected sales and customer data to offer recommendations about products or services that meet consumer needs.
In practice, this approach leverages AI-driven data analytics tools capable of combining current market trends with specific customer behaviors to offer tailored solutions that help “guide” consumers along the path to purchasing.
The goal of guided selling is to present buyers with several options that meet their needs — and offer data-driven reasoning around why each of these options would be a good fit. This sets guided selling apart from typical sales frameworks, which tailor ads to consumer behaviors or specific groups of buyers, but leave customers to largely fend for themselves once they arrive at business websites.
Consider a simple example. In a typical sales approach, customers find your site via traditional marketing or social selling solutions. Once they’ve clicked through, they’re largely left on their own to navigate potential purchase options via common category or product type drop-down menus, or they may be sent directly to a specific product page based on links clicked via social accounts or online ads.
In guided selling, meanwhile, customers are presented with specific product recommendations based on collected data. In a brick-and-mortar sales setting, this data is often collected by sales associates who ask customers questions about what they’re looking for, how much they want to spend, and what problem they’re looking to solve. For e-Commerce operations, this may take the form of a short online questionnaire that helps sales teams determine the best-fit product selection for customers.
Guided selling is used in both B2B and B2C scenarios, with the primary difference being that B2B approaches often involve direct contact between account managers and business buyers, while B2C solutions typically prioritize data-driven online questionnaires to help funnel customers to the right products.
Key Benefits of Guided Selling
Guided selling offers three key benefits for businesses.
First is a greater chance of customer conversion. If consumers feel like brands are listening by offering a selection of curated options that all potentially meet their needs, they’re more likely to make a purchase on your site.
Second is a positive customer impression, which can help drive repeat business. Given the sheer volume of product and service options now available, it’s easy for customers to get overwhelmed by choice. If your brand can provide a streamlined and simple customer experience that gets buyers what they want, when they want it, they’re more likely to come back. In fact, 80 percent of customers are more likely to buy from brands that provide this type of personalized experience.
Finally, a data-driven approach provides ongoing insights for sales and marketing teams. Rather than trying to anticipate broad purchase trends, businesses leveraging AI-driven guided selling tools can help pinpoint specific areas where sales efforts will be most effective.
Guided Selling Examples
So what does guided selling look like? Here are three examples.
Example 1: Offsetting Choice Overload
The sheer volume of product choices now available online puts many customers in a state of overload — they have a general idea of what they’re looking for, but aren’t sure where to start looking because they have so many options.
Guided selling can help offset this overload. Consider an online home furnishings store. With a host of style, fabric, and color types, customers can quickly get overwhelmed trying to figure out what they want. A simple set of questions when they arrive on-site, however — such as asking what room they’re looking to furnish and the types and colors of furniture they prefer — can go a long way in getting them to the right product.
Example 2: Identifying Specific Needs
In some cases, customers arrive on your site not knowing what they want or need. Here, a quick set of questions can help identify specific needs and point them in the right direction. Let’s say you’re an online clothing brand. You could ask customers about the type of fit and fabric they prefer to help guide their buying journey and show them products that best fit their preferences, in turn making them more likely to purchase.
Example 3: Providing Decision Data
Guided selling can also be used to provide decision-making data. This approach is often used in B2B buying or if your site sells a highly complex or technical product. By offering detailed information about their products — such as their dimensions and specifications — brands can help customers find their best fit and give them the confidence to make good decisions.
Great Guided Selling Software
Looking for guided selling software tools to make your life easier? We’ve got you covered with five great options.
Need help in making your marketing and analytics data work for you? Start with HubSpot’s marketing analytics and dashboard software. With the ability to measure what’s happening across all of your marketing and sales campaigns simultaneously, HubSpot equips your team with a solid data foundation that informs guided sales efforts.
Zebrafi is a cloud-based guided selling system that can help your business identify potential sales opportunities, provide clear data to customers, and increase total sales. The big draw here? Visibility across your sales pipeline to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to change.
Revenue.io offers an all-in-one platform that uses AI to deliver guidance, insights, and tools to help teams pinpoint ideal sales approaches and point customers in the right direction. With the ability to automate sales playbook adoption and application, this software tool provides key insights for both sales teams and prospective customers.
Clickpoint is a sales lead management and communication solution that helps companies streamline their guided sales process and drive increased revenue. From lead prioritization to personalized sales emails to customized sales data, Clickpoint lets companies take charge of their guided sales efforts.
5. PandaDoc CPQ
PandaDoc CPQ is a configure, price, and quote tool that helps tailor product quotes to customer needs, in turn providing a way to combine guided selling with even more specific quoting needs. This is especially useful for companies with highly technical or complex product lines that benefit from in-depth quoting to drive increased sales.
Guided Selling Best Practices
- Keep it data-driven.
- Make it fast.
- Use images.
- Offer context.
- Guide, don’t direct.
While every guided selling effort will look different, there are some common best practices that can help boost the efficiency of this approach:
1. Keep it data-driven.
Guided selling depends on good data. This means deploying tools capable of collecting and analyzing data to provide actionable results. In combination with human experience, data-driven approaches to guided selling have the best chance of turning visits into sales.
2. Make it fast.
If you’re designing an online questionnaire or data-collection form to help improve the sales process, speed is a priority. Before going live, make sure your guided selling tool is easy to use, quick to respond, and delivers accurate recommendations based on customer answers. Here’s why: If potential buyers have to wait for results after they input answers, they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
3. Use images.
Wherever possible, use images to improve your guided selling efforts. This means showing pictures of products along with close-up images or key features. It’s also a good idea to use clear icons that show progress along the guided selling framework that offer customers a sense of how close they are to completion.
4. Offer context.
Don’t just ask questions — offer context. For example, if you’re asking customers which of three similar product types they might prefer, provide context on the features or functions that differentiate these products to make it easier for buyers to decide.
5. Guide, don’t direct.
Finally, make sure your guided selling doesn’t stray into directing. The goal here is to motivate, not mandate — if your end result is only one product or you make it difficult for customers to branch out and find alternative options on your site, potential sales will quickly evaporate.
Getting the Most From Guided Selling
When it comes to getting the most from guided selling, remember that data is the driving force. By using a combination of collected and customer-generated data, it’s possible to curate product offerings and offer a selection that matches user preferences, in turn boosting personalization and setting the stage for a better path to profit.
Originally published Jun 21, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated June 21 2022