Successful salespeople don’t sell, but help the customers buy. Selling was easier back in the days when sales teams had time to interact with buyers, understand what they need, and then recommend the best-suited solution. With time, sales tools got sophisticated and made the lives of the salespeople easier. However, most of these tools, until recently, were for administrative efficiency rather than to intelligently guide the sales teams to close deals faster.
Things have changed rapidly over the last decade. Sales automation tools, such as Salesforce (Sales Cloud and CPQ), Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft, have started leveraging the data to provide customer intelligence and recommendations to the sales teams.
Evolution of Guided Selling
“Companies started their journey into guided selling when the sales cycle replaced with the customer journey.”
Guided selling isn’t a new concept, but today the need for it is being felt more than ever.
Clearly, customers are driving the need for guided selling. The evolution shows that the customers:
Have more information or misinformation about the product
Have more alternatives, and can change loyalty anytime
Demand better experience during and after the sales process
Want instant recommendations and have little patience to wait for sales quotes
Expect the sales to help them make the right choice
These expectations are pushing guided selling to a different path, and here are some of the things to foresee.
Future of Guided Selling
51% of sales teams have or plan to deploy algorithmic-guided selling by 2024.
Gartner report on Current and Emerging Technologies in Sales
The power of AI in guided selling. Sales intelligence into intelligent sales
While CRMs, salesforce automation tools, and CPQ have helped sales teams to improve customer engagement dramatically, AI is taking it to the next level. The powerful combination of AI and sales data is providing sales with intelligence on their fingertips that are helping them to predict the customer needs and close deals faster.
Use case: Salesperson of a security software product company goes through several rounds of product configurations based on customer requirements along with internal approvals before releasing a quote. While the CPQ system simplified the process of quote generation, the probability of deal closure is not yet high. In case of AI ecosystem, the client states the requirement, and AI-led CPQ instantly guides from its previous experiences of dealing with similar cases. At the click of a button, the recommended configuration, pricing, competitor information, terms, and offers that have a higher probability of closure are presented. All of these with appropriate reasoning and within the margins set.
That is guided selling at its best. Of course, the data needs to be clean to get the right insights.
Guided selling for an omnichannel experience
The digital economy ensured that most companies have an omnichannel strategy as buyers do not make the purchase decision through one channel anymore. However, the channels are not integrated well, and this disconnect is leading to poor customer experience. Integrating omni-channel customer journey with guided selling and enabling shaper multi-channel campaigns creates new standards for customer experience in the world of omnichannel.
Use case: Consider a customer interested in buying a car. The customer visits the website, reads the features and fills a demo form. Then goes to various forums and enquires about the car’s performance, colors, and any specific feedback. As the customer visits the showroom for the scheduled demo, a connected system would recognize and produce a customized quote according to the captured profile details up to now. The intelligence from the CRM would guide the salesperson to address any concerns and start the pricing conversation from a point where specific preferences are already incorporated. This drives a quick closure of buying cycle by reducing back and forth communication.
Guided Selling integration commerce sites
The prevalence of guided selling in eCommerce is well-known. However, there still seems to be a gap when it comes to integration with commerce sites, such as SaaS or product companies that sell the products online. These product companies neither have the pricing information on their websites nor guidance for the buyers. Today, customers are not willing to wait longer to get information that will help them during the buying cycle. Integration of CPQ with guided selling features and better collaboration between sales and service teams may reduce this friction giving sales reps more time to follow up with high probability leads.
Use case: Consider request for purchasing a service desk. After thorough evaluation, a list of products is shortlisted based on their features and credentials available on the website and other channels. However, none of these websites have pricing information. In many cases, this is the end of the sales cycle for product companies. The client will move to a company where the CPQ system is integrated with the website and gets at least a ballpark quote to make shortlisting decision.
CPQ and guided selling will go beyond the walls and reach these commerce sites to ensure that customers get all the relevant information in one place.
Hyper personalized selling
A good sales process starts with an unambiguous understanding of customer challenges. In most cases, customers might not be able to articulate their challenges or might not even know the problem. Each of these challenges can be specific to the business, industry, geography, and the size of the company. Guided selling considers each of these elements and creates a personalized experience to articulate the challenges and recommend the right solution. Today, this happens with the involvement of empathetic salespeople, but not at scale. Guided selling through CPQ will help bring the size and deliver a consistent experience to all the customers.
Use case: Brillio recently implemented CPQ for one of the clients who bundle the hardware and software for setting up kiosks for the clients. The client agents never get full and right requirements as they do not always know what kind of questions to ask. The issues vary depending on the end-customer and their needs. Through the CPQ system, the agents were able to select the appropriate persona and instantly had access to all the set of right questions. The end-customers were happy as the agents asked relevant questions and some which they didn’t even think about.
We’ve observed that our clients have started seeing the results in terms of higher conversion rates, larger deal sizes, higher renewals, and faster transaction speed. While these are important, our customers are very excited about the overall uptick in the customer experience. For example, for a SaaS planning platform provider, we implemented guided selling on Salesforce CPQ plus with advanced approvals resulting in 25% improvement in quote accuracy.
Is your sales team ready to exceed their targets with guided selling? Do talk to our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help you get on to this exciting journey.
About the Author
A multi-faceted leader with expertise in Digital Transformation and Consulting, Mayank handles Customer Success, Solutions and GTM Strategy for Customer Experience Platform practice. He has guided technology led CX transformation of businesses across various domains