What is guided selling?
Wikipedia offers an excellent general definition for guided selling: Guided Selling is a process that helps potential buyers of products or services to choose the product best fulfilling their needs and hopefully guides the buyer to buy.
Sales works with knowledge-empowered buyers on mid- to late-cycle issues related to actual selling and confirming specific product details.
Guided Selling Facilitates Sales Reps and Buyers
The role of sales is changing dramatically in our connected world. Buyers are much more likely to arrive in the buying cycle equipped with product knowledge, solution alternatives and a general idea about cost.
Today, buyers do their own early cycle research, and when the time does come to speak with a salesperson, they are very likely to be close to a decision.
Marketing facilitates this guided selling process by making high-value content available and accessible via website content, white papers, blogs and other SEO-empowered resources. The ultimate goal is to make the guided sales experience easy for buyers to navigate.
Guided Selling: a Day in the Life of a Sales Rep
So, what does this mean to you, the sales rep? The good news is, you can forget about making a million calls per day to cold phone numbers answered by grumpy people who verbally abuse you if they bother to answer the phone at all. Nope, your day will be different.
First, you may pick up a copy of your company web traffic report. Who has visited your web page, and specifically who has been looking at the product you sell? Next, take a look at who has downloaded content and what content they downloaded.
As you look over these lists, your eye is drawn to several names that you’ve seen before. Your CRM system informs you that one of these guys has been downloading product literature about your line of forklifts. Your next interesting clue is that the company the guy works for is a distributor of fresh-food products.
You check your CPQ system to see if your products have any particular utility in the fresh-food distribution arena. There are several references to attachments designed to handle large quantities of food stuffs in a sanitary manner. Also, long-life, quick-charge batteries are a recommended up-sale item for food service since downtime means spoiled food.
You send an email to the fellow thanking him for downloading your product brochure. You also attach a PDF with an industry story about new long-life/quick-charge battery technology in electric-powered forklifts.
Approximately 15 minutes later, a phone call comes in from this fellow. He wants to ask some questions about your batteries and their performance specs.
Your CPQ system drives the conversation for you. It remembers all of the conditional questions, the environment and the regulatory requirements. CPQ makes you sound like a genius, and your new pal is feeling very confident in your ability to help them with their needs.
Now you are in a sales engagement—no cold call, no prospecting, no get out of my life you lousy sales rep. Just two people in business talking over the needs one person has and how they might best be addressed.
CPQ is a Guided Selling Toolbox
Products are complex because customer issues are complex. This isn’t a good or bad thing, it is the reality of our world.
Sales effectiveness is increased when the sales rep can quickly identify an effective solution. This is done by matching requirements to capability and price to value delivered. There is technology to help make this happen.
CPQ guides the conversation between the sales rep and buyer to establish a clear understanding of what is needed. The sales rep doesn’t need to remember the many product configuration variations, CPQ does that for both the salesperson and the buyer. If no solution is configurable, the rep and buyer know and understand that quickly as well.
CPQ can also help the sales rep cross-selling and upselling opportunities that may be presented to the buyer as enhanced capabilities for a more complete solution or as differentiated capabilities for a solution to another issue altogether.
In cases where standard configurations are close to customer specs but fall short in some way, CPQ is the gateway to evaluating an E2O solution through estimating.
This assures the customer that the price and value delivered are aligned, and the sales rep is further assisted with automated proposal generation.
By building this intelligence into CPQ, sales doesn’t require the extended education cycles traditionally associated with new products or major product changes. CPQ learns about new solutions instantly and instantly enables the sales rep with updated information.
CPQ can be the product expert, and the sales rep can be the selling expert.
Guided selling delivers customer satisfaction and makes buying a better, more convenient experience for customers.