Guided Selling

In this day and age, consumers are bombarded with choices. Even such simple household item as a coffee maker comes in countless of different, variations, brands and models, each with diverse features. So how do you know which one is right for you? You could be wasting hours browsing through pages and pages of products trying to sort out the ones that fit your needs and those that don’t.

Wouldn’t it be easier if there was someone to guide to through that buying process, helping you to make the right choice, so when that product finally arrives at your doorstep, you know for sure that whatever you bought is right for you.

Welcome to the world of guided selling.

What is Guided Selling?

Imagine that you’re looking for a certain product. You go to a store that sells that specific product and you’re in most cases presented with several different types and models. If you’re not too familiar with that product you’re looking for, you’re going to be scratching your head and trying to figure out which one best suits your needs. Then a store clerk walks up to you and asks if you need help. You politely say yes and he proceeds to ask you a few questions on how you will be using the product, and then guides you to the best one for you based on your answers.

Guided selling is the digital version of that store clerk. When you do online shopping, there is no staff to help you guide you to the right product. Sure, you could send an email and inquire them on which one is best suited to your wants and needs, but then you often end waiting hours or even days for an answer from support. By then you’ve probably found the information you need to make the purchase elsewhere. Which in turn makes the online store lose a potential customer.

By presenting the consumer, with a step-by-step shopping advisor, he or she will be guided to the very best product or service for them.

The importance of guiding the buyer right to what they are looking for is now more important than ever. A study shows that 83% of online shoppers needs support before making a purchase. If a buyer can’t find the information they are looking for, they tend to abandon the purchase and go elsewhere.

How Does it Work?

By presenting the consumer with a few questions on how they will use the product they are looking for, the digital advisor will then eliminate all variations of that product which doesn’t meet the consumer’s needs. After all questions are answered, the consumer will then usually be left with one or a few that meets their requirements. Making it much easier for the consumer to choose.

The goals of guided selling technology:

  • Ask relevant and not too technical questions about how the consumer will use the product
  • Eliminate all the different kinds variations of that product based on the answers given
  • Present the consumer with the most relevant product(s)

Buyers often know how they will use the product, they just don’t know which one is the right for them. That’s why it’s important to present them with simple, easy to answer questions on how they will use it and what they will use it for. The amount of questions may vary. A laptop comes in many more varieties and is more technical than a toaster for example. Buyers looking for a new laptop will have to go through more questions to find the right laptop for them.

Questions also need to be presented in a way that relates to the buyer in a more personal way, and how they will use the product on a day-to-day basis, instead of reading a list of specifications and choosing based on that.

Guided selling is quick, easy, and straight to the point. The customer won’t be exhausted by shuffling through hundreds of products. Instead it will give the buyer a sense of participation in the whole buying process, and in the end, leaving them satisfied with the end result.

How guided selling can help you
An example of how guided selling can be used to choose a smartwatch

The Benefits

The benefits of guided selling is multiple. Not only for businesses, but also for customers who seek to be well informed before making a purchase.

For Businesses

  • Help customers sort through a large quantity of products or services in a short time
  • Present the customer with only what’s relevant to them
  • Help customers make an informed purchase
  • Make the whole buying process more fun and interactive

For customers

  • Be more confident in your purchasing decision
  • Save time
  • Be guided to what you need and still be able to make the final decision
  • Feel more taken care of by the online store

In a time where attention span is short and there is always somewhere else the customer can go to, it’s important to keep the customer’s attention for any online store. Giving the buyer a fun interactive platform is a good way of keeping their attention. Also, they’ll feel a sense of anticipation and wonder grow more and more by every step they take. Excited to see what product or service they’ll see at the end.

Online stores can also personalize every product finder for each category of products or services they sell. Making each product finder seem custom tailored in terms of layout and design, which makes them even more fun to use.

Guided Selling VS Product Filters

Most online stores who carry a range of different products rely on filters, or faceted search as it’s also is called, to help the customer to narrow down their hunt for what they are looking for. A system that stems from Colon Classification, which was invented in 1933 by S. R. Ranganathan. Even though this system can be helpful to consumers, only 40% of online stores use it. And to make matters worse, a study done by The Baymard Institute shows that only 16% of websites they analyzed gave a good filtering experience.

As more and more information gets added, the more the customer has to filter through, and the amount of information seems to never stop growing. In many ways people have gone from being empowered by information to being overloaded with information.

By using a digital advisor as a way to guide the buyer to whatever they are looking for creates an interactive and user-oriented experience. Where filtered navigation is geared more towards people who are well-versed in that product category, a guided selling platform can speak to the customer in terms they understand by removing all the technical mumbo jumbo that the customer don’t understand.

Here is a few examples of questions the customer might be asked in a guided selling process:

What do you need it for?

How often will you use it?

What is your budget?

As you can see, these are questions the potential buyer can easily answer. It simply asks the customer who they are, and what their intended use for the product is.

Guided selling choices
Different answers leads to different outcomes

Keeping it simple

Creating a smooth and frictionless user experience is something every website aims for. This should especially be true for online stores. If the store offers a good shopping experience, then people are more likely to recommend that store to friends and family. In many ways, good user experience design (UX) and a simple buying process is the equivalent to a helpful store clerk in the online world.

In a hectic world, online shoppers don’t want to spend time they don’t really have on finding the product or service they need. They want to the experience to go quickly and smoothly from start to finish. Guided selling gives that to them. Creating a system that holds the hand of the customer through the whole process and still leaves the final choice up to them.