This article is part I of a two-part series on guided selling. This article will focus on the benefits of guided selling for the buyer and the second article will focus on the benefits for the salesperson.
With a 25% year-over-year increase in global e-commerce projected for 2015 alone, digital sales are projected to reach over $3.5 trillion within the next five years. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To maximize this potential, digital sales giants are turning to software-based Guided Selling applications to leverage optimized experiences to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
Guided Selling is the digital evolution of the salesperson that understands the potential customer’s needs and then enables the seller to optimize processes and automate communication to guide them to the offer that best meets their needs. With unprecedented access to data and analysis at the helm of this evolution, Guided Selling solutions necessitate capabilities that only a SaaS solution is equipped to consistently deliver. The live nature of the SaaS, its seamlessness and dexterity, are enabling a customer-centric approach to Guided Selling that both comprehends and successfully overcomes complex obstacles to conversion.
According to a Gartner report on the “Five Best Practices to Improve Your B2B Road Map for Sales Enablement,” guided selling improves ease of access and ease of process to recommend. So, let’s dive in and see what this really means.
Curing Analysis Paralysis
Choice and information overload are leaving both consumers and sellers inundated and incapable of making a decision – a phenomenon termed Analysis Paralysis.
In the digital world, we’re seeing an increase the use of Guided Selling solutions that help relieve Analysis Paralysis, a growing number of which are SaaS-oriented. The marriage between SaaS and Guided Selling goes beyond technical suitability; SaaS companies, are by nature inspired by the need to optimize customer experience. Curing Analysis Paralysis requires a process that is streamlined from A to B – but is also related to the specific case in progress. Guided Selling solutions are helping companies learn about what makes their buyers drop off along the way and addresses these issues with action-evoking automation.
Let’s look at two examples. With a Guided Selling solution in place, sahibinden.com saw a 52% increase in completed tasks. Citrix witnessed a 61% increase in the number of users reaching a targeted page and a 41% increase in downloads of a free product feature that was previously underutilized.
Easing Navigation by Clearing Lines of Communication
The most palpable evolutionary step that Guided Selling has taken in its online transition is the fact that the solution must now refer to a much longer, omni-channel sales funnel. As such, it’s quite often that people get lost in the funnel, the buying process is disrupted and vendors – even those who can successfully pinpoint purchase obstacles, are turning to Guided Selling software to solve issues of flow. A successful Guided Selling solution will address the multi-channel nature of the contemporary sales funnel and enable seamless integration across numerous touch points.
The Mobility Apps division of Citrix was recently faced with the challenge of increasing conversion rates of their trial users. The marketing team used a SaaS automated guidance solution to optimize their sales process and experience. Through every step of the service introduction process, the solution was implemented to anticipate user needs and provide help exactly when and where needed.
The problem at Citrix and the way it was solved is a key demonstration of the Guided Selling SaaS approach to solving funnel interruption issues. The Citrix team worked with the platform to collect data during every step of the process and were able to pinpoint problem points and address them with practicality. The results were A/B tested against the conversion rates of those without the support of the guidance platform and the numbers continue to rise. The team at Citrix saw a100% increase in conversion rates and an overall 40% increased usage in comparison to the control group.
Increasing Conversions with Simplification
The Guided Selling system enabled the Citrix team to dramatically reduce confusion and error by introducing simple onscreen guidance elements including pop up assistance, a progress tool bar and proactive guidance tips on key features.
They were able to highlight a number of key features, among them a product that was offered for free, and to dramatically increase conversion rates of its utilization.
sahibinden.com, an online classifieds and shopping platform with 32 million monthly users also recently implemented a SaaS solution to introduce an online guidance layer that takes their customers from A to the desired B without confusion. Their product managers were able to implement the solution with no prior technical knowledge of the system and to customize processes with guidance so that they appear to be a part of the site.
The guidance, which is unique to each customer’s position of progress in their task, their previous interactions and their device, reduced the number of customer support queries by 43%. What this means for their bottom line is that almost 100 percent of their online goals are being completed without error. More business is being done because sahibinden.com customers work more confidently and users remain focused and engaged online.
In Guided Selling – Personalization is King
Guided Selling solutions are being leveraged to personalize interactions, thereby increasing satisfaction, loyalty and consequently – the lifetime value of each customer.
Designed to make it simple for sales and marketing to conduct (automated) conversations with customers and to guide them to the best possible results for their needs, Guided Selling sets the tone for an emotional connection between the selling platform, the buyer and the desired outcome. When customers’ emotions are being addressed, typically emotional obstacles to the purchase, such as purchase justification, are smoothly overcome. It is the emotional connection with the buyer that increases credibility of the brand, and instills confidence in the brand.
Avoiding the “Jump Ship” Moment to Get to “Yes”
Another classic obstacle to online selling is the inability of selling platforms to deliver the desired results. Customers can often get so specific that the product or service simply does not exist in their configuration. This is a “jump ship” moment for many buyers who will continue to search for their perfect match. A Guided Selling solution will always deliver an alternative proposal that best fits the customers’ needs, thus ensuring the continuity of the sales process and significantly reducing abandonment rates.
With a personalized interaction, Guided Selling goes beyond the conventional “people who bought this also bought”, to deliver the alternative offer as a natural extension of the conversation between the selling platform and the buyer. This customer-centric approach is reaping superior results to the latter approach that is passive by nature.
With even the smallest businesses now selling online to thousands and often millions of customers, the world of selling is changing face. The world of buying is taking strides. But never forget that human nature remains the same. As people, we need the emotional motivation behind a purchase; we need the salesperson’s knowledge and familiarity; we need attention and guidance.
That’s why customer-centric buying experiences will increasingly outweigh conventional factors such as price in the decision making process. It’s also why the concept of Guided Conversion – particularly Guided Selling – is being led forward by the SaaS world; a world that is driven by the need to solve individual problems, in real-time.