So why is Guided Selling relevant now? The approach has been around for quite a while.
Some reasons that it makes me enthusiastic today are:
- The tools are maturing with an easy-to-use, AI-supported user interface and customer insights. (We recommend Zoovu as a state-of-the-art Guided Selling Platform)
- Engaging with the customer is getting more important as the competition grows and new traffic gets more expensive.
- For B2B businesses where direct sales are uncommon, Guided Selling is a fantastic tool for lead generation. Read more about this in this blog.
- In times of COVID and post-COVID, connecting online with your customer in a meaningful and compelling way is more important than ever.
Engage with the customer
Let’s start with the last point: connecting online. Depending on the use case, this is where Guided Selling can make the biggest difference if it’s done right!
First, consider a ‘regular’ interaction of a visitor with a high-quality website. The customer can browse, search and filter and easily reach all of the assortment. Based on the visitor’s behavior, you can suggest some specific products or make a ‘special offer.’ But if you don’t know the visitor, you can only make an educated guess on the visitor’s goals and needs. Even if the visitor is logged in as an existing customer, you still don’t know what drives him or her today.
This is the core idea behind Guided Selling: to start a conversation. Just like your regular sales employee, ask simple questions, for example:
- What are you looking for?
- What problems are you experiencing today?
- What special needs do you have?
Based on this input, you can already start to make some appropriate recommendations.
Educate on product benefits, before price
This dialog is just the start of the conversation. There are still a number of products or services that fit the requirements, and the next step is to filter down based on the customer’s needs.
This step is where you can ask more specific questions on the customer’s context and needs. It is also the perfect opportunity to highlight and explain some of your product portfolio's (premium) features. Or, more adequately: how the customer can benefit from these features and why the recommended product is a perfect fit for them.
Again, just like your regular salesperson, you can showcase all benefits and important options before starting the discussion on pricing! This is also a key difference with a common webshop-interaction where the customer may begin by first filtering on price. Filtering on price too early will immediately hide all kinds of potentially interesting options that offer a good value if properly explained to the customer.
Limit options to avoid choice paralysis
There is plenty of convincing research on the topic of choice paralysis. Today, it’s common knowledge that too much choice doesn’t help conversion rates.
Everybody wants to have options, but too many options will create insecurity. How can you be sure that the choice you are about to make is really the best one? It’s easy to overlook something. This is, of course, the ‘classic’ use case for guided selling. Start out with 1000 laptops, 300 bikes, or 45 washing machines. NB: this is different than just going over all the facets in your navigation step by step. In a well-designed Guided Selling interaction, you are not talking features; you are talking benefits.
Just as in faceted navigation, the customer will not be able to select combinations that are not available. However, better than facets, you can guide the customer by engaging in a dialog, thereby preventing that a first filter will hide options that are actually a good fit based on their overall needs. In fact, Zoovu integrates AI analysis and AB testing to help optimize exactly this!
At the end of the dialog, you can recommend the best option and some alternatives, so the customer still has some options, but a limited and sensible set, based on their need and requirements.
Closing the deal
At this stage, there are several ways to go ahead. In a B2C environment, you’ll often want to close the deal in the same session. You can either direct the customer to the Product Detail Page or let the customer put the product right into the cart and proceed to checkout.
But, using Guided Selling, you can also offer far more relevant upsell recommendations, like accessories or add-ons, since you know the customer’s needs. And just like on the rest of your site, you could offer the customer any discount or special deal to give him the last push that is needed to close the deal.
In a B2B environment, your goal will often be to turn an anonymous visitor into a known lead. Guided Search is also excellently positioned to do this. Here's a more in-detail separate blog about just this scenario. It is a must-read for all B2B / Manufacturing organizations looking to get more leads from their own website!
When the sale is done, there are still other use cases for applying a digital assistant. Read more about how to use a digital assistant to help your customers and reduce the load on your Customer Service team in-depth in this dedicated blog post.
Why should you use a tool like Zoovu to step up your guided search? There are many reasons, but the most important one is to quickly iterate on your assistants and make new versions and adaptations without the need for technical resources. This enables you to learn, scale, and grow your solutions.
Creating an effective Guided Selling flow may be harder than it looks at first. There are many variables: what questions to ask, what wording to use, which media to support, adding additional attributes, and determining the optimal flows to route a customer through them. Creating this hardcoded will almost certainly set you up for disappointment or at least hold you back from unlocking the full potential.
Instead, a solution that enables business users to make changes quickly and optimize in a data-driven way will ensure that you can freely experiment with all these variables. It will result in an assistant that delivers on your channel for your audience, bottom line, and business. You can even share your guided search application with your distribution network. Read more about connecting with your customers through third-party sites and marketplaces in this blog.