According to SiriusDecisions and empirical evidence from our customers, guided selling increases sales win rates.
Guided selling is the process of prescribing optimal sales execution steps to your sales reps to enforce a consistent and efficient sales process. The tasks and process are based on sales patterns of past closed-won and closed-lost opportunities.
Guided selling provides a holistic experience for sales reps. It allows them to respond to prospects as needed throughout the buying journey and is adaptable enough to allow for variations for different industries and ideal customer profile segments.
It provides a methodology for sales reps to follow so they understand the customer's needs, can assess product fit, and never miss a follow-up. You can think of guided selling as a virtual mentor, allowing new reps to benefit from what collectively is the best sales process.
Guided selling is also an exceptionally powerful method of building buyer/seller relationships. If done right, the seller becomes a trusted advisor and leads the prospect to the right solution quickly while ensuring they are fully informed along the way. This gives buyers the confidence they need before making buying decisions.
The Power of Dynamic Guided Selling
If guided selling is good, dynamic guided selling is even better. Dynamic guided selling is the automated collection of prospect interactions and seller activities combined with the application of artificial intelligence and pattern matching to prescribe optimal buyer role-based sales execution steps, and to deliver coaching to the sales reps. The guidance and coaching are in the form of follow up tasks, suggested content to send, scheduling of activities or insights about the opportunity.
Dynamic guided selling is an adaptive process that uses a wide variety of contextual data to provide recommendations,either for the prospect or to your sales team, for each opportunity.
The Goals of Guided Selling
The first goal of guided selling is to manage and facilitate the buyer/seller "dance." Ideally, it helps the seller “back lead” the buyer-controlled buying process. Everyone benefits from this dance. The buyers are provided with educational materials to learn what they really need.
The sellers are also guided on how to fulfill the buyers’ needs in a structured, well-considered way that’s appropriate for them. The end result is that the buyer makes a better informed decision.
The sellers benefit because they have a more streamlined sales process and provide less “noise” to confuse the buyer. "Back leading" the dance helps align the buyer’s buying process with the seller's known best sales process. “Back leading” the dance results in the dance looking better and feels more in-sync.
Guided selling and the enhanced, dynamic guided selling process result in:
- A simplified and accelerated sales process
- Elimination of friction in the buying process
- Educating the buyer when they are ready to be educated with content appropriate for their role
The second goal is to create a consistent sales process. A consistent sales process is a prerequisite for an accurate sales forecast and:
- Keeps everyone on the same page as it relates to deal status
- Guides the right sales rep behaviors
- Reinforces the sales process and methodology
- Provides a baseline for coaching
- Helps identify problems and apply solutions
- Helps keep the sales pipeline clean and only include deals that are winnable
- Increases sales rep productivity by focusing on activities to support winning the deal
The most crucial goal of B2B guided selling is to remove any friction from the buyer’s decision process. Online or offline, buyers need the most straightforward path to satisfying their needs, and the seller who gives it to them is often the one that wins the deal.
Components and Tools To Organize the Sales Process
From the seller’s perspective, the sales process is defined in terms of stages. Sales stages organize the activity of the sales team and match it to the needs of the buyer at each major pivot in the buying journey and enables your reps to measure opportunity progress. Sales stages are lines in the sand to measure progress of an opportunity through the sales cycle. Each stage has a series of defined objectives.
The achievement of sales stage objectives is determined by measuring sales milestones. Sales milestones are sub-steps within a sales stage and represent inflection points within the sales process. The sales reps must manage through it successfully to move the opportunity forward.
Below the sales milestones are buyer/seller interactions in the form of emails, meetings, and seller-provided content to help the buyer make a better-informed decision and buyer-provided content to help the seller understand their pain. Guided selling alerts and makes suggestions at the buyer/seller interaction level to guide the sales process.
Guided selling defines actions within each sales milestone. Those actions depend on the health of the opportunity and activities to date within the sales opportunity. Each milestone clearly defines the series of actions you need to take or information obtained to promote the opportunity to the next stage in the buying process.
The foundation of guided selling is a well-built sales playbook.
It aligns your sales process with the buyer’s journey and it lays out the steps of the sales play. It tells your sales team what to do and what to communicate in a given sales scenario. Dynamic guided selling automates the playbook and at the same time, increases the segmentation of the playbook by industry and ideal customer profile segmentation.
Proactive Best Practices
Proactive follow-ups are delivered in the form of system-generated reminders, along with the ability to take action on those reminders. The reminders are compliance-based to ensure timely follow up with the prospect and to maintain CRM accuracy.
Proactive delivery of sales content recommends the right sales content and provides insights at the right time. “The right content” is a broad term and can include both sales content to the buyer as well as training content/check lists/battle cards to the sales rep.
Both of these best practices are key features of dynamic guided selling. They provide the sales rep alerts about follow-up and strategic activities with the ability to take action.
Your Company’s Guided Selling Approach: Where Do You Rate?
At the baseline level, companies take a general approach of “let the sales reps sell.” Minimal guidance is provided in the form of a PowerPoint identifying the key sales stages with minimal definitions. The sales process is characterized by the sales reps “doing their own thing,” and the general attitude of sales leadership is “as long as sales reps hit their quota, we are good.” Forecast accuracy is plagued with inaccuracies caused by an inconsistent sales process, and unchecked “happy ears” and “sandbagging” sales reps.
At the good level, sales leadership takes a more active role in supporting all sales reps to become A-players and achieve their quota. Sales stages are better defined and their achievement is linked to completing key milestones within each sales stage. Sales playbooks are used to guide the sales rep to better manage the sales process in line with the buying process.
At the better level, companies have streamlined the process of recording the achievement of sales milestones within stages and are tracking it electronically. This is a required step to move from guided selling to dynamic guided selling. At this level, the achievement of milestones is recorded and buyer/seller interactions can be sequenced to provide the baseline of information needed to move to dynamic guided selling, once enough information is collected to recognize sales patterns by ideal customer profiles.
At the best level companies have implemented a dynamic selling process. They have the systems in place to capture buyer/seller interactions and use previous sales patterns to allow their guided selling tasks to adapt to current selling situations. They have a well-defined sales stage/sales milestones sales process and can capture the achievement of sales milestones in their guided selling tool to further feed the guided selling engine. They have created a virtuous circle where current sales events and guided actions reinforce themselves through a feedback loop to revise the sales processes.
To learn more about dynamic guided selling, 6 Strategies to Building an Accurate Sales & Revenue Forecast.