Gartner predicts that "75% of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with artificial intelligence (AI) guided selling solutions" by 2025.
Steve Rietberg, senior director analyst in the Gartner Sales practice says: “Sellers can no longer exclusively rely on intuition-based selling to push a deal over the finish line. Tomorrow’s sellers must learn to use data today to effectively manage their sales cycles as the use of information will become more critical to their success over time.”
What's more, those who adopt a guided selling solution are able to spend 50% more of their time in productive prospecting, and are at least 84% more likely to achieve their quotas. Those are just some of the benefits.
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Navigating the challenging day of a sales rep
Sales reps have a lot to juggle. Not only do they need to understand their product/service, know the customer well, keep track of meetings and diverse tasks, be engaging and positive when they connect with buyers, but also have the right content at hand at the right time, to push prospects through the buyer's journey intelligently.
With so many demands on reps and navigating long B2B sales cycles, and with less and less time to do so, an advanced tool that can help sellers along the way is welcomed.
What is guided selling?
Sales enablement is becoming increasingly important for B2B organizations. Guided selling is an essential tool in sales enablement, as it provides relevant and timely content and information to reps during the sales process to use to keep buyers moving towards a purchase decision.
In guided selling, machine language-trained applications suggest content for sales reps to show prospective buyers.
This can, for example, happen within a sales enablement platform. The content recommendations are based on the user's sales methodology, the prospect’s stage in the sales cycle and particular industry.
When sellers prepare for buyer engagements, from emails to meetings, AI provides insights-driven content recommendations on what content to share or details to keep in mind based on previous experiences with the prospect.
How does guided selling work?
Guided selling helps sales reps to uncover what buyers want and give it to them. Guided selling opens the door to more efficient, accurate and personalized sales.
As an example, guided selling can happen before a customer interaction or a presentation, as preparation, where the software gives the rep prompts as to what content to show or send the prospect. It can also happen within a sales call.
This form of sales guidance for reps aims to make sales less of an art form and more of a repeatable skill, to be used for any sales rep.
The AI analyzes previous actions that the rep or customer/prospect has taken automatically and recommends the rep what to do next.
For example, a sales professional can use the customer sentiment function of their sales enablement tool to further filter down customer needs and context, before recommending particular products. In the process, the rep educates buyers on their best options and alternatives, sometimes upselling or cross-selling, and helps them complete the sale.
Why implement guided selling?
1. Maximizes selling efficiency
As much as 64% of reps' time is spent on non-selling tasks, and only 34% of their time is spent selling. So, when they are selling, they need to be engaging with their prospects as effectively as possible.
In addition, organizations that have a sales enablement program in place are 96% more likely to achieve competitive levels of sales excellence, compared to organizations that don’t. Needless to say, these companies have a huge competitive advantage.
Guided selling helps utilize reps’ time to the greatest degree, by providing the content and information needed to keep the conversation flowing and keep buyers moving in the direction of a purchase decision – i.e. closed deals.
As Tad Travis, Research VP at Gartner says:
For sales reps, guided selling is a game-changer.
In essence, AI-based guided selling improves the effectiveness of sellers and enables sales teams to engage customers through automated and personalized digital sales aids and content recommendations that incorporate customer-specific information. And on that note...
2. Improves customer experience
As Gartner states, “Intended to augment more traditional sales tools, such as sales playbooks, algorithmic-guided selling uses sales data to boost the seller’s ability to engage with prospects, manage the buying process and generate quotes.”
Elizabeth Beard, director analyst for the Gartner Sales practice, adds: “AI guided selling also enables the customer buying experience. In fact, progressive sales organizations are already using AI to determine what content resonates with buyers and then recommend tools and content to share with the buyer at the moment. This helps to connect buyers with information to better answer their questions – filtering out the noise – and provides a better customer experience.”
In a way, guided selling can work like a matchmaking process, where sales teams pair customers with compatible products that meet their unique needs or requirements. And these guided selling values – that is, the commitment to find the right product for the right customer – are at the heart of customer engagement, as well.
After all, customer engagement is rooted in building intentional relationships that offer exceptional value with each and every touchpoint. And what could be more intentional than a guided selling strategy? It supports reps in asking pointed questions, practicing active listening, and using predictive analytics to learn what matters most to their buyers.
However, AI-powered guided selling will not replace traditional seller engagements. Instead, AI wholly complements the work sellers already do.
3. Streamlines processes and reduces complexity
With sales cycles growing longer and buyers’ expectations on the rise, reps need a way to reduce the complexity and confusion associated with the sales process. Fortunately, guided selling makes sellers’ jobs much easier by streamlining your operations in a big way.
More specifically, guided selling software provides some much needed clarity for your organization thanks to unprecedented control over your sales processes. Guided selling can align and automate your sales, services, and marketing efforts to help your reps save time, pitch productively, and ultimately, meet their quotas.
A guided selling strategy is centered on real-time, around-the-clock guidance. It allows sales teams to stay on brand and streamlines in that sense as well. The most trusted guided selling programs transform your information and suggestions from linked apps into a plethora of guiding messages that help sales teams perform their best.
For example, reps might receive notifications that remind them of next steps or that inform them of changes to opportunities, close dates, and deals at risk. All of these in-time alerts are vital to a smooth selling process, especially given the fact that today’s buyers expect fast and personalized attention to their needs.
3 best practices for guided selling success
1. Integrate guided selling tools
One of the most influential factors in guided selling is the use of advanced tools and technologies that help reps sell at higher volumes. Guided selling software is the key to scaling your business, as these systems have the functionality needed to implement automation as well as process optimization.
In addition to automated data capture (which lends itself to better data analysis), guided selling platforms also leverage automated prompts and provide relevant info at precisely the right time. By integrating the appropriate tech stack into your guided selling strategy, reps can gain a clearer picture of sales data and sales activity to save them measurable time and ramp up their productivity across the board.
2. Recognize the power of omnichannel
Omnichannel selling is no longer the way of the future – it’s really the key to elevating customer satisfaction and staying competitive within a crowded (or oversaturated) marketplace. These days, an omnichannel environment is just what customers are looking for, since this structure allows them to have a unified and convenient journey with every transaction.
But how does this translate to a guided selling framework? To simplify it vastly, you need to make sure your guided selling program is mobile-friendly and your various selling channels. This way, buyers can enjoy a singular experience and your business can diversify how it is generating revenue.
3. Maintain a human touch
Adding a human touch whilst utilizing guided selling is a crucial component of sales success. Even when guided selling is backed by tech, it should remain friendly and personable in the way that a good salesperson is. To achieve this kind of warmth and relatability, guided selling needs to focus on engagement and connection (regardless if it employs automation or repetition).
This means establishing a rapport – asking the right questions with the right tone and language – and explaining the why behind a particular product recommendation. In doing so, you will add unmatched value to the customer experience and leave buyers feeling confident in their decision.
What is Pitcher’s guided selling capability?
With Pitcher, you can guide your teams and transform them into real brand ambassadors with consistent and personalized content delivery that underpins their storytelling.
Guided selling is a low-touch sales technique where customization and autonomous decision-making are intrinsic. Pitcher provides AI-powered content automation, surfacing the right content at the right time, for each customer.
How guided selling works in Pitcher:
- An Operations User (for example someone within the marketing function) manually sets a set of rules within Pitcher’s backend.
- These rules define what pieces of content will be presented and are relevant for each type of customer and segment, based on any of the customer’s attributes such as industry, size, opportunity stage and so on. The rules are a crucial input for the AI model to learn, detect patterns and ultimately predict the next best actions.
- Based on certain factors (which the client/company can choose and set for themselves) the AI algorithm will kick in. Through Machine Learning, it understands what content performs well for certain clients. Doing so through a continuous learning process over time.
- The algorithm can be trained to achieve up to a 90% accuracy rate. The amount of time needed can range from a few months up to a year, depending on the amount of data, number of sales reps and so on. The more reps, the more data needs to be analyzed.
- Using AI in this way, we can associate the right content with the right audience and vice versa.
The guided selling functionality is embedded into the rep experience, meaning the rep doesn’t need to think about it, and thereby saves time and effort that can be better spent elsewhere.
In short, guided selling generates customer trust. It’s the ultimate selling technique, where your sellers are guided to present the most meaningful content, which resonates with customers.
Interested in learning more about Pitcher? Request your Pitcher demo and experience our sales enablement Super App in action.