Businesses fiercely compete for customer attention. The secret weapon? Guided selling. Merging cutting-edge technology with personalization, it’s redefining how we shop. It tailors the buying experience using AI and extensive data, guiding customers as they compare products, understand pricing, and select add-ons while preventing the frustration and abandonment that often come from being overwhelmed by options.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover the essentials of guided selling, industry examples, and how it can transform your sales process.
- What is Guided Selling?
- How Does Guided Selling Work?
- The Benefits of Guided Selling
- The Guided Selling Process
- Guided Selling Best Practices
- Guided Selling Examples
- When Should You Consider Guided Selling?
- Guided Selling Technology Features to Look For
- The Future of Guided Selling
What is Guided Selling?
Guided selling personalizes the customer journey by giving sales reps real-time information to influence buyer decisions. Central to this is a sales playbook integrated into your CRM. It equips sales reps with the tools, content, and training needed for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
How Does Guided Selling Work?
Guided selling empowers sales reps with customer data, market trends, AI automation, and a responsive Q&A workflow. It acts as an interactive guide, helping reps navigate sales scenarios, present tailored options, and explain why they are a good fit.
For example, a healthcare software sales rep using Highspot’s Sales Playbook Software can customize their pitch with specific industry data, case studies, buyer information, and compliance information, contrasting sharply with traditional, generalized sales approaches. This personalized strategy, supported by various relevant resources, directly addresses the client’s unique concerns, demonstrates an understanding of their business, and positions the product as a solution to their specific challenge.
Consider the expectations of today’s consumer: approximately 71% anticipate personalized interactions from companies, and 76% express frustration when this expectation is not met. By adopting guided selling, sales reps are not pushing a product; they establish a meaningful connection with their buyers and show a commitment to meeting their specific needs.
Guided Selling in B2B Sales
Guided selling helps B2B sales reps understand business needs and align solutions with important priorities. It aids decision-making when there are multiple stakeholders. For instance, it can assist in selecting add-on products to configure technical products and solutions with complex pricing structures.
Guided selling transforms B2B sales reps into consultative sellers so they can confidently guide buyers to choices without unnecessary cross-selling or upselling. It broadens their market knowledge, giving them the confidence to recommend even competitors’ products when more appropriate. This approach positions them as trusted advisors, focusing on long-term relationships and future business opportunities.
Guided Selling in B2C or eCommerce Sales
In B2C and eCommerce, guided selling enriches the shopping experience by tailoring product suggestions to customer preferences. This often leads to faster, more informed purchasing decisions. For instance, Amazon’s product suggestions are based on browsing history and interests.
In physical retail environments, guided selling takes the form of in-store, person-to-person interactions. Sales professionals must have the product knowledge and the confidence to engage potential buyers, offering advice and recommendations. Conversely, in the eCommerce realm, the high-volume digital nature of shopping calls for a different tactic. Digital sellers use advanced tools such as AI, chatbots, and customized online shopping experiences. They use learning algorithms to understand customer preferences and behavior, allowing for product recommendations most likely to meet the customer’s specific needs and preferences.
The Benefits of Guided Selling
Guided selling improves sales by enhancing customer engagement and boosting conversion rates. Research shows that 76% of consumers say personalized communications prompt them to consider a brand, while 78% say it boosts the chance of repeat buying.
Top guided selling benefits include:
Guided selling streamlines the decision-making process by filtering and presenting options matching the customer’s needs, reducing the time and effort spent on irrelevant choices.
Enhances Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
When customers feel valued and receive tailored experiences, it creates a positive association with the brand. Personalization, defined by consumers as feeling special, elicits positive responses when brands invest in relationships, not just transactions.
Provides Ongoing Insights for Sales and Marketing
Guided selling software offers insights into customer preferences and demographics. The data can also feed buyer personas, product roadmaps, and messaging.
Enhance Sales Rep Efficiency and Performance
When sales reps have helpful data, they can quickly address customer needs. This leads to improved time management, increased productivity, enhanced job satisfaction, and better sales outcomes.
The Guided Selling Process
The guided selling process equips reps with sales plays and technology to assess and respond to customer needs, ensuring an informed purchasing journey. Let’s look at a scenario where a sales rep assists in laptop selection.
1. Understand Your Customer’s Needs
The sales rep begins by asking the customer questions to understand their needs. These questions may include the intended use of the laptop (business, gaming, personal use), budget, preferred operating system, and product attributes they require, like processing power or lightweight design.
2. Initiate a Conversation
The rep digs deeper into the customer’s responses. For instance, if the customer needs a laptop for business, the rep might ask about the types of software they use.
Sales reps can start a conversation directly or through interactive online interfaces like chatbots. Guided questions are posed to understand the customer’s needs and preferences more deeply.
3. Recommend the Right Products
The sales rep uses the customer’s answers, their expertise, and a guided selling toolbox to suggest laptops that meet the customer’s criteria. For gamers, they might recommend laptops with more power and high refresh rate screens.
4. Help Customers Make Informed Decisions
The rep then explains the benefits of each recommended laptop. They will provide detailed information that helps customers understand why these models suit their needs. This might include discussing processor speeds, memory capacity, and graphics specs.
5. Closing the Deal
Once the customer has all the information and has selected a laptop, the sales rep will follow up, assist with any final questions, and complete the sale. They might also suggest accessories or warranties to complement the product.
Throughout this process, the sales reps will use skills gained through sales enablement training and available content to guide the customer through their purchase. Guided selling ensures customers feel heard, understood, and satisfied with their purchase.
Guided Selling Best Practices
Guided selling best practices, such as maintaining a data-driven methodology, providing plenty of content, and encouraging sales readiness, ensure a smooth sales process with prepared sales reps.
Maintain a Data-Driven Approach
Data helps sales leaders closely monitor and track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer engagement, conversion rates, and response times. Watching these metrics in your dashboard informs reps when they need to adjust tactics based on real-time data and trends.
Encourage Sales Readiness
Sales readiness means the salesforce is fully equipped with the necessary tools, information, and skills to engage with customers. This involves regular, ongoing training, access to up-to-date product information, and a thorough understanding of the sales playbook.
Provide Educational Content
The value of educational content lies in offering buyers more than just standard product details. It provides a broader context of industry challenges, emerging trends, and solutions, encouraging productive conversations. Salespeople become credible advisors or consultants rather than just transactional sellers.
Educational content includes a range of resources, from industry trends and customer success stories to practical how-to guides and thought leadership articles, all aimed at guiding the buyer and easing the decision-making process.
Keep the Sale Moving Along
Maintaining customer interest and momentum toward purchasing is essential to keep the sales process moving smoothly. This requires an agile response to customer inquiries and quickly providing relevant information.
Align With Sales and Marketing Strategies
Aligning sales and marketing leads to unified messaging, brand trust, and a seamless customer journey. It also allows shared insights for targeting customers, optimizes resource use, and ultimately boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty because everyone is on the same page.
Collecting feedback from customers and internal team members helps refine guided selling. Feedback helps identify successes and opportunities for improvement, allowing for continuous coaching on sales strategies and selling techniques.
Adapt Guiding Selling Technique to Industry Needs
Adapting guided selling techniques to specific industry needs ensures relevance. For example, in real estate, agents think about what buyers feel, where they want to live, and their budget. They pick out the best properties and teach about locations and buildings. This helps them become trusted advisors in their field.
Guided Selling Examples – Manufacturing
Shifting the focus to manufacturing, Hyster-Yale implemented guided selling techniques to reform its sales method. Their sales team, comprising over 900 channel partner sellers and an internal national account team, struggled with using multiple support tools, providing a consistent buyer experience, and lacking sales cycle visibility.
Hyster-Yale adopted Highspot’s platform to overcome these challenges, integrating it with Salesforce.com (SFDC). This move brought guided selling into the fold by offering functionalities like Best Bets and Recommended Content, catering to specific deal attributes. Highspot transformed traditional sales playbooks into dynamic, easily accessible SmartPages™. This guided selling approach led to a marked increase in partner sales and provided crucial insights into deals, driving more business and delivering greater value to buyers.
When Should You Consider Guided Selling?
Guided selling is great for simplifying complex products or services for customers. It’s also ideal for highly customizable offerings, helping customers select the best options. Additionally, this approach can segment and target different groups with relevant options if you have a varied customer base. Check out our comprehensive guide on guided selling to get a head start on strategies that will save your sellers time and boost their success.
However, in scenarios where products are self-explanatory, or the buying journey is short and straightforward, implementing a guided selling strategy might overcomplicate the process or add unnecessary steps. In that case, SNAP selling better fits your needs. This sales methodology emphasizes speed and simplicity, making it suitable for businesses with uncomplicated products or services, as well as in quick decision-making scenarios and high-priority situations.
Guided Selling Technology Features to Look For
When selecting guided selling tools for your business, there are several features to consider, such as AI-driven recommendations, user-friendly interfaces, and comprehensive analytics.
- Intuitive user interface: The technology should have a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate for sales reps and customers without extensive training.
- Generative AI: AI serves as a co-creator and advisor, guiding you through each stage of the sales process. Deliver immediate responses, tailored sales pitches, and suitable content aligned with the specific phase of the sales journey and the unique characteristics of your customers.
- Content management: Allows for the easy organization, updating, and distribution of sales materials.
- Integrations: The effectiveness of guided selling hinges on data, analytics, and machine learning. By integrating sales enablement tools with CRM systems, sales reps can access prospect and transaction data, insights into sales engagement activities, and find enablement resources.
The Future of Guided Selling
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75% of B2B sales organizations will augment conventional sales playbooks with AI-guided selling solutions. This tech combines human intelligence with machine learning for smarter customer engagement.
This evolution marks a shift from traditional guided selling, which often lacks data analysis, to a more proactive and data-driven approach. It suggests immediate, actionable steps for sales reps, such as personalized content delivery, and anticipates future trends.
Embracing the AI-Driven Future with Highspot
It’s fascinating to see how AI is quietly but powerfully weaving into our daily lives. Whether you’re casually shopping online or making big decisions at work, AI’s influence is often so smoothly integrated that you might not even notice it’s behind your choices.
As we embrace this inevitable future, Highspot stands at the forefront, already recognized as the top Sales Enablement platform in the 2023 Product Marketing Alliance’s Pulse Report. Our platform’s acclaim stems from its robust guided selling capabilities and our latest innovation: Highspot Copilot. This generative AI digital assistant is changing the game in sales, making things more efficient and letting sales reps focus on something important – creating unforgettable customer experiences.
With Highspot Copilot, the future of AI-driven guided selling isn’t just a concept—it’s a reality today.
Request a Highspot demo to learn more.