Knowing What Customers Need Before They Do: Why Guided Selling Is Essential to Sales Enablement
By Mert Yentur, CEO, Pitcher
B2B sales teams have been under extraordinary pressure. Remote workplaces, virtual channels, and foundational changes in the buyer’s journey have required sales organizations to pivot, adopting digital-first models to more effectively – and immediately – communicate value to prospects and existing customers.
Sales reps are simultaneously adapting to an environment in which they have less time than ever to engage with customers or prospects. Gartner found that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase and meeting with multiple suppliers, sales reps may have as little as 5-6% of a customer’s time. The reality of such limited engagement means personalized and relevant content can be the single differentiator that closes the deal.
Sales enablement tools have been critical for many enterprise sales teams looking to streamline the sales process. Guided selling is one such feature, designed to accelerate and streamline the sales process through AI and machine learning. It replaces guesswork and intuition with data-driven insights that refine and evolve along with each buyer’s journey. And it offers the most modern and targeted method of delivering highly-personalized content to the right audience, at the right sale stage, in the right channel.
Guided selling aligns modern buyers and sellers
The changing buyer journey requires sellers to more closely align with buyer expectations. Gartner finds that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between sellers and buyers will occur in digital channels. B2B buyers now expect self-service sales, omnichannel engagement, and the kind of customization that mirrors their B2C experiences. At the same time, buying groups are getting larger, now comprising an average six to ten decision makers, each with different needs and expectations in mind as they evaluate solutions. Using guided selling, businesses can serve custom content tailored to each specific audience, generated based on the prospects’ stage in the sales cycle, previous interactions, customer sentiment, and more. Guided selling providers the digital-first experience buyers now demand, supplementing rep intuition, experience, and proven static sales tools with AI that can instantly analyze data streams to match customers and products quickly, with more precision, and earlier in the sales journey.
Guided selling delivers ongoing value
Reps needs to communicate value quickly and regularly to create loyal customers and partner advocates. Sixty-six percent of buyers expect sellers to understand their unique needs and expectations, and over half expect offers to be personalized. Customer-centricity means viewing customers not as targets to sell to, but rather as partners with whom sellers navigate the journey across multiple channels of choice. Sales teams stand to lose a lot if they don’t deliver digitally, as McKinsey found B2B sellers offering outstanding digital experiences are more than twice as likely to be chosen as primary suppliers. Part of that digital experience is exceptional custom content, generated through and recommended with guided selling tools. Relying on machine learning for content recommendations positions reps to be virtually present at every step with customers. It lets reps deliver what each customer needs – at their particular stage, based on their particular history, informed by their particular preferences.
Guided selling lets companies remain agile
Sales organizations have experienced massive changes over the past twenty years, from Salesforce and CRMs revolutionizing customer segmentation, the shift to big data and analytics, and now with hyper-customization through AI. Change is something smart sales teams embrace. Consider how quickly and effectively teams responded to remote and hybrid work models, with 79% of sellers now saying virtual selling is effective, a 25% increase from 2020. Guided selling takes advantage of this latest trend, supporting business agility by automating smart content. New product features, brand positioning revisions, compliance updates, price increases, and more are automatically incorporated, eliminating the potential of presenting outdated material. It also makes the field force agile; it’s a low-touch sales tool that reps can count on to arm them with effective sales aids without administrative overhead.
In a competitive sales landscape, sellers need to communicate product value and create customer trust quickly. Guided selling transfers much of this responsibility onto technology, augmenting reps’ soft skills and expertise with custom content that speaks directly to the buyer and their specific needs. Using it, customers can be moved more efficiently toward a purchase decision, enterprises can scale more efficiently, sales reps can achieve productivity gains, and most importantly, sellers can create trust and demonstrate their investment in a long-term, value-creating relationship.