This post is all about the beginning steps to guided selling and why it is crucial for your business to succeed. 

Steven Spielberg is to movies as Guided Selling is to B2B Sales organizations:

The best thing in their industry.

Gartner has stated: “Artificial intelligence (AI) functionality has permanently transformed the form and function of guided selling capabilities.” According to Gartner B2B sales organizations should help sellers improve sales execution by adding AI-based guided selling to their sales technology stack.

What is Guided Selling?

Guided selling is ‘paint by numbers’ for both the buyer and the seller in the B2B sales process.

Guided selling takes the guesswork out of what will work and what won’t. It makes it easier for sales reps to follow a process that buyers will enjoy by giving them simple steps (step 1, step 2, step 3) to follow. 

A good guided selling system helps your salespeople and the buyer move from one stage to another, perfectly aligning what the buyer and seller need.

We will discuss the Buyers Journey portion in the next post and describe what the buyer requires and expects.

In this post, we will focus on what the seller needs.

What does the seller need?

The seller needs to be helpful, collaborative, informative, and a value-add asset in the process. To be all of these things in a B2B complex sale, sellers need to shift from how they are selling today.

The significant change I learned is that buyers do not want to hear about your product.

Don’t Talk About My Product? Then what am I going to talk about?

Not talking about product was hard for me, if I am honest, so it might also be hard for you. I knew I had a great new solution. The team and I were proud of it.

But I couldn’t talk about it.

At least not until I identified a prospect that had the problem, the pain, and would prioritize finding a solution to solve it and fund it.

According to a recent Gartner study, 87% of the time a decision-maker will spend on a problem is spent independent of meeting with a seller. This directly relates to the buyer’s journey, which we will address next.

The CEO of TSIA World Tech conference recently asked a room full of over 2,000 technology leaders whether they would find the customers expected outcomes captured in the CRM opportunity record. In the entire crowd of thousands, only five hands came up.

This is because most companies sell based on features of their product. Nothing about customer KPIs or measurable expectations is ever established, recorded, or delivered.

Talking about your product is boring to decision-makers. Sellers won’t get a meeting. And they will fail to advance a deal when they get a meeting if their message is about the product.

I have learned that the way to succeed is to sell specific business outcomes to business professionals. This is a more complex sales approach.

Buyers, when they first become aware they have a problem, start to investigate possible solutions and want sellers to be helpful. Providing information that shows a solution to a painful problem is very helpful.

Why? For two reasons:

Sellers must understand the prospect’s industry, business issues, and even their key business metrics. 

  • What are their business problems? 
  • Their challenges? 
  • How do they measure success? 
  • How does your product solve their problem?

That allows you to speak in the language of their business. And this infers that salespeople know to speak the language of the individual company industry verticals.

I knew I had to convince prospects, usually executive personas, that other companies like theirs were getting business benefits from projects that they didn’t have underway.

“Based on our customer benchmarks, if you take the same action, you can expect that return.”

Those approaches — outcome selling versus product selling — are completely different and require very distinct capabilities.

Back to Guided Selling…

Selling based on business outcomes requires that sellers target prospects with the business problem they solve. To make sure that sellers only target perfect fit prospects, guided selling must help them ensure they have found a perfect fit prospect.

Marketing does the bulk of the lead generation activity today. But, it still falls on sales to qualify and determine which lead is the perfect fit.

Next, sellers must have value-based materials to be helpful, collaborative, informative, and a value-add asset to the process.

Where do the value-based materials come from? With guided selling, the messaging comes from your customers.

In the next post, we will discuss how to use the voice of the customer, and not the voice of the salesperson, to improve the buyer’s journey in guided selling.

This post was all about the beginning steps to succeeding with guided selling.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Reaching the B2B Decision-Maker
  2. How to Realign Your Sales Team for Success
  3. Why Selling Features and Functions doesn’t Work in B2B Sales


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