Before the average B2B buyer ever actively engages with sales, s/he is 57% of the way through the decision-making process. Similar to B2C shoppers, B2B buyers are increasingly conducting their own research, mainly online, trying to reduce the risk involved with their decision. They are aiming to become informed subject experts, knowing that any wrong decision can have a major impact on their business and, possibly, their own career.
When they do engage with a potential supplier, they are not looking to be sold to. These people want trusted advisors who listen and understand their needs, educate them on their options and, finally, help them to make the best decision for them and their business.
That leaves B2B companies trying to find new ways to engage prospects earlier in their decision-making process, offering both informative content to help educate the buyer and a slick, consultative buying experience that supports the buyers’ new preferred way to purchase.
Guided Selling in B2B Commerce
The goal of Guided Selling is to help facilitate the buying process. Everyone benefits: the buyers, who get exactly what they need, and the sellers, who have less actual ‘selling’ to do, as prospects are being helped to fulfil their needs in a structured, well-considered way that’s right for them.
Here’s why Guided Selling is needed in B2B commerce to help you stand out from the competition, and how to put it to work for your business:
1. Simplification and acceleration of the sales process
The most crucial part of B2B Guided Selling is to remove any friction from the buyer’s decision process. Online or offline, buyers want the most straightforward path to satisfying their needs.
How do you do that? It’s about asking the right questions to understand their needs.
For example, the traditional questions asked by a rep selling new computers to an SMB would be quite simple and to the point:
- Which brand?
- Desktop or laptop?
- What extra options do you need?
- What’s your budget?
With Guided Selling, sales people are trained with a different set of questions that enable them to understand the needs and motivators of the buyer before suggesting the right product:
- What software and applications do you use most often?
- What are the inefficiencies of your current set up?
- How could new computers improve your productivity?
- Are your computers used just in the office or do they need to be portable?
- What is your investment cost or total cost of ownership?
Armed with the answers to these questions, the sales rep puts together a competitive offer focusing on the needs of the customer and reinforcing the solutions to those needs in the quote.
2. Giving Buyers Back Control
Having the right Guided Selling solutions in place can go a long way toward eliminating friction in the buying process.
Guided Selling solutions contain far more than a set of filters to drill down through a range of product features. For someone with expert-level knowledge, that kind of filtering system can be helpful. But often, filters can be confusing and leave people feeling frustrated, as they don’t explain what something is, what benefit it will have or the value of it.
Good Guided Selling solutions will weave in short educational modules, such as short videos or interactive tutorials, to help buyers quickly learn about features. For instance, in the computers example above, it would be beneficial for a prospect to quickly learn about how detachable devices or tablets could be used instead of a conventional laptop.
There’s suddenly complete transparency about the value each feature or solution provides. The recommendation is more than a, “Do you want this feature?” – it’s, “Why you may like this feature”. Recommendation screens summarise what the customer said and show how different features tie to the different customer answers to build a complete solution that is tailored to their needs.
All of this puts the customer in control of their own buying journey. And that’s powerful stuff:
Their input is what drives how product or service options are narrowed down. They can explore and compare different solutions and immediately see the value a solution provides to them.
Remember also, that with the Guided Selling solutions and Digital Advice systems, you can request registration details (as Swisscom do in the above example) to give you a supply of warmed-up, pre-qualified leads.
3. Product bundling
B2B Guided Selling gives you a rich insight into the exact needs of your prospect. As well making it easier to sell to them, this also gives you the insight into what other products or services you provide could be of interest to help them meet their objectives.
The insight leads your sales team to cross-sell, up-sell and recommend the appropriate upgrades, add-ons, warranties and after-sales service packages giving you valuable extra revenue per sale.
4. Getting the questions right
With your team, develop questions designed to help potential customers find the best product or service for their needs, and to do so with more warmth and personalisation than a search engine.
Predefined rules optimize how the product should be specified and priced – based on both your customers’ needs, and your business goals. This ensures you’ll offer the deal that is best for your customer, and for you.
Finally, test your decisions and recommendations against this question: am I providing an engaging experience that quickly guides the user to the correct products and services?
Strong, long-term customer relationships are the lifeblood of the successful B2B business—and there’s a direct tie to revenue growth. Guided Selling is an exceptionally powerful method of building these relationships. Having the right Guided Selling solution will lead you and prospects to the right solution quickly, while ensuring they are fully informed along the way. This gives buyers the confidence the need before making a buying decisions.
Guided Selling helps reduce your costs, protect margins and grow revenue. Your team can close more business, faster, which is probably the most powerful change you can make to your business.