Is Product Recommendation Software Right for You?

Product Recommendation Software

 

Forbes reports that 57% of sales reps missed their quota last year. While that statistic is alarming, the critical question that managers need to ask is why. Why aren’t reps knocking every single sale out of the park? Sales can be an area of high turnover, so maybe they’re not all up to speed, they’re struggling with product positioning, or they aren’t strong at interpreting and identifying the needs of a customer. Sales managers want their reps to hit more home runs – and product recommendation software is a big bat.

If you don’t have great selling aids, it’s time to consider what benefits come with the use of a guided selling tool. It enables new sales reps to get up to speed more quickly, helps reps keep their messaging consistent, and ultimately leads to the right recommendation for your customers. Think of your best salesperson. A guided selling tool basically lets you clone that person and have them in the sales conversation with all of your reps.

Product Recommendation Software, like all tools, is designed to help you achieve what would otherwise be much harder without the assistance – so much so that we’ve seen close rates increase by 40% when product recommendation software has been used.

 

So, What is Product Recommendation Software?

Before considering what to look for, it’s important that you understand exactly what product recommendation software is. In short, it’s a software application that enables reps to deliver excellent sales experiences and recommendations through a conditional, needs-based assessment. With this software’s help, reps are better able to guide customers and generate trust and confidence.

Benefits of guided selling:

  • Onboards reps faster
  • Increases sales productivity
  • Engages buyers with an interactive buying experience
  • Delivers an accurate and highly-personalized buyer experience with real-time leave behinds
  • Replicates and automates what works for top performers

Product recommendation is an art that enables the asking of intelligent questions and then uses customer response to drive recommendations and guided up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Isn’t that what any customer and sales rep would want?

 

9 Essential Considerations

Now that you see the problem and understand a potential solution, you’re on to something. Here are some considerations for you before adding product recommendation to your toolbox:

 

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT IT WHY YOU MIGHT NOT

SHORTEN TRAINING TIME

Product Recommendation Software allows your reps to get up to speed more quickly because they have a tool to help them and because that tool doubles as a training aid.

INCONSISTENT MESSAGING

If you have a brand-new team still looking to establish itself and figure out what works, you’re messaging might not be consistent enough, yet.

ACCURATE PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS

If your reps are using a tool that has the correct information, they’re far less likely to make a wrong recommendation.

DON’T KNOW WHAT WORKS

If you haven’t figured out your “special sauce” yet, it’s difficult to scale what works. It helps to figure out sells within your organization as a foundation before incorporating this software.

BUYER-LED JOURNEY

Potential buyers can interact with the tool and feel ownership of the process – leading them to feel less “sold to” and reducing the chances of an incorrect recommendation.

LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE

Perhaps you don’t have the infrastructure to capitalize on the rich data insights Product Recommendation Software can provide. If you can’t harness the full functionality of the tool, it might not be worth it for your organization.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Product Recommendation Software has the ability to delight customers by providing an interactive experience and better recommendations.

REDUCE FOLLOW-UP TIME

You can send follow-up communications immediately either during or after a meeting to keep the pipeline moving and keep your reps selling.

ENGAGE MORE PROSPECTS

With shorter, more precise sales meetings, your reps are more available.

 

Does This Sound Like Something That’s Right for You

We’re not talking about a CRM or refresher training. We’re talking about focusing on your customers, their experience, their trust, and ultimately – their purchase.

If you’re looking for a sales aid that’s consistent, up-to-date, personalized, digital, mobile, and has shown consistent results like 60% increase in YOY sales and 40% increase in rep productivity, then using product recommendation software could be a solution for your company.

Give your customers exactly what they want at the right price—without second-guessing your product recommendations or quotes.

Your Sales Enablement Software Needs Interactive Product Demos

Sales enablement is a fast-growing space. Look up sales enablement software, and you’ll find hundreds of proposed solutions. Most of them are rep-focused and provide information like lead data, sales presentations, and marketing collateral. These features can definitely help sales reps be more efficient, but if your sales enablement software doesn’t support interactive product demos, you’re missing out.

In this article, we explain how you can deliver a better customer experience, onboard faster, and close more sales when your sales enablement software includes interactive product demos.

First things first: if you think sales enablement is just for geofencing and tracking sales calls, expand your definition of sales enablement. Think of sales enablement as a smart mix of technology and training. When you include interactive demos throughout your sales enablement tool, reps have everything they need in one place. They can quickly learn about your products and services, and then sell them the right way—faster.

What are interactive product demos?

In this context, interactive product demos are highly visual pieces of sales presentation content that explain the features and benefits of a product or service. They help the viewer understand how something you sell works—and how it stacks up against the competition—in a compelling way.

sales-enablement-software-with-interactive-product-demos

I’ve seen two demo formats work really well: short videos and interactive, highly visual learning modules. Videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits. Interactive learning modules simulate how product features work and explain how they benefit the customer.

sales-tool-with-product-demo-video

Short videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits.

interactive-product-demos-Unboxed

Interactive learning modules simulate product features and explain the benefits.

What can interactive product demos help my sales reps do?

Deliver a better customer experience

In my experience, the most effective interactive product demos can explain a product or service in 10 seconds or less. 65% of your customers are visual learners, so when you show how something works (rather than tell), you seriously upgrade your customer experience.

Your customers are also busy, and they don’t have time for clunky PowerPoints and outdated brochures. They want to learn new information quickly so they can make a buying decision.

product-demonstration-upgrades-customer-experience

Forrester shares that interactive product demos change the medium of video from a “lean-back to a lean-forward interactive experience,” empowering and informing customers as they move further down the sales funnel.

Here’s what Hubspot says:

“When customers feel like they’re in control, they will often take risks, such as trying new services or taking a chance on a new product.”

If you want to share your value propositions with your customers in an exciting, visual way, see if your sales enablement software can support interactive product demos. You’ll help your customers understand how you can solve their challenges and why they should buy from you.

Onboard reps faster

You want your new sales reps to be more productive, faster. In fact, we’ve found they’re actively looking for short, to-the-point ways to explain your products and services. Reps want to deliver accurate information and hold their customer’s attention.

Interactive product demos allow sales reps to gain expertise with very little time commitment. In the same way product demos help your customers learn, they help your reps learn, too. There’s an assurance in knowing their sales enablement software has helpful product information, right there when they need it. I’ve seen reps who have access to interactive product demos achieve quota as soon as Month 2 or Month 3.

When sales enablement tools include interactive product demos, reps have more confidence during their customer conversations. They also have access to consistent, helpful content for each customer, regardless of their location and level of experience.

Close more sales

Time is a sales rep’s most precious resource. Selling Power says the average rep spends just 10 percent of their time selling. When your sales enablement software doubles as a sleek interactive product demo, reps gain time to devote to their core objective: selling. No more late nights formatting PowerPoint slides.

On top of that, interactive product demos make it easier for customers to make a buying decision. Customers are more engaged and can understand key benefits more quickly. You heard it from Forrester and HubSpot—this leads to a better close rate.

See it in action

Want to see examples of sales enablement software that doubles as an interactive product demo?

Check out Advisor or contact us to talk more.

What is Sales Enablement? Hint: It’s Not Just an App

Google what is sales enablement, and you’ll find varying definitions alongside dozens of companies offering apps that claim to be the silver bullet. We’ve seen first-hand that companies are often grasping at technology as a quick fix, rather than slowing down to align on a comprehensive initiative. However, making it easy for an entire sales force to use consistent messaging, keep up with product knowledge, add value to the customer experience, and drive sales growth can’t be accomplished with a single app. We must think bigger.

According to CSO Insights, while sales enablement is a growing trend, overall sales performance is not improving. In fact, while sales enablement as a discipline grew from 19.3% in 2013 to 32.7% in 2016, quota attainment actually decreased from 63% to 55.8%.

What’s happening?

what is sales enablement

How can you expand your sales enablement efforts into a 360-degree strategy? We have some ideas.

What Is Sales Enablement: THe Unboxed Definition

To start, here’s our answer to the what is sales enablement question.

We define sales enablement as:

A strategic initiative that aligns sales, marketing, and training to equip sales teams with the training, technology, content, and ongoing coaching they need to increase productivity, sell more, and improve the customer experience.

Let’s break that down.

IT’s a strategic initiative

Sales enablement is a comprehensive, forward-thinking initiative that employs a smart mix of technology and training. It’s not a quick-fix or a shiny new tool that lacks staying power.

If every employee company-wide embraces a mindset that they are either salespeople or sales support, your success will skyrocket. According to Salesforce’s State of Sales Report, 60% of sales professionals say collaborative selling increases their productivity by 25% or more, and over half say it also increases their pipeline.

It aligns sales, marketing, and training

In our experience, sales enablement originates in marketing. It’s marketing’s responsibility to position products, create talking points, and create a value proposition to make the customer experience more consistent.

Sales reps are your organization’s frontline revenue drivers. They build strong relationships with customers, provide solutions, and close deals. But it takes all three departments―sales, marketing, and training― working together to cultivate a successful, cross-functional sales enablement initiative.

Marketing typically owns the budget, sales executes the strategy, and training fosters the necessary skills and behaviors to sustain it. When this powerful trifecta aligns, the ultimate customer experience emerges.

It demands training

Sales reps require knowledge, skills, and behaviors to effectively sell to modern buyers. Without great training, they won’t share your value proposition with ease or overcome difficult objections.

Unfortunately, 80% of marketing content is rarely or never used by sales, according to ITSMA. Without strategic, insightful training on how to use them, high-end sales enablement tools and content are useless—but with the right training, these tools are priceless.

And with microlearning, reps can make the most of small chunks of time and train on the go. They can access training information whenever they need it. Quick refresher course before a big customer meeting? Yes, please.

It’s powered by technology

CSO Insights explains your organization can create the right tools, training, messaging, and content, but if your sales team can’t access them easily, you’re effectively fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

The sales productivity gap―widened by administrative tasks, manual data entry, and time spent searching for the right content―means less time for what sales reps do best: selling. Selling Power says some reps spend as little as 3% of their time actually selling. That’s shocking!

That’s where sales enablement technology comes in. And remember, don’t look for a silver bullet. Your reps will likely use different tools for different tasks. From rep-facing tools like CRMs and sales training platforms, to customer-facing solutions like guided selling tools and customer feedback platforms.

It centralizes content

Message consistency is vital to your organization’s brand. Sales enablement gives every rep access to the same high-caliber marketing content. Customers in every region are guaranteed to receive the same (stellar!) level of information and service. Marketing consistency thus becomes reality.

Easy access to interactive demos and content serves a dual purpose: they’re customer-facing (hello, customer experience) and also help keep your reps’ knowledge on point.

Let the content do the talking: interactive demos can explain your products quickly, while some sales enablement tools recommend the right training content at the right time to help reps close a deal.

Enablement? We’d call that empowerment.

It requires ongoing coaching

According to Topo, “Most sales training programs suffer from a fatal flaw―they happen once a year.  As a result, salespeople forget what they’ve learned.”

Products change, messaging evolves, and competitors encroach. The solution? Make sales enablement training a continuous, cyclical effort.

Conduct regular training sessions and provide reps with refresher training to maintain their competitive edge. The more modern and interesting you make it, the more your team will engage with it.

And coach, coach, coach. Observe your reps in action and provide feedback. They want to be better. Help them.

guided selling as a part of sales enablement

The Goal: Increase productivity, grow sales, and improve customer experience

When sales enablement is done right, the benefits are three-fold.

First, reps are more productive. They spend less time on administrative tasks and more time selling. And don’t forget about onboarding. Getting new reps up to speed is a challenge. With the right sales enablement strategy, reps are more productive, sooner. Often twice as fast.

It empowers reps to educate customers and make smarter recommendations about the best product/service for their needs. When customers experience this transparency and see that a rep isn’t just suggesting a solution to meet quota, they start to trust. And trust quickly morphs into increased sales.

Finally, it simplifies the increasingly complex buyer’s journey and adds value. A comprehensive sales enablement strategy makes it easy for your reps to sell and easy for your customers to buy from you. When you create a unique and exceptional customer experience, customers will buy from you again and again, and tell their friends to do the same.

Think before you launch

Without a well-planned strategy to accomplish your organization’s sales enablement objectives, you could waste time, effort, and money on so called “silver bullets” without achieving results.

Avoid failure to launch. With good planning, and a smart mix of training and technology, your sales force will be enabled, empowered and unstoppable.

So what is sales enablement to you? Share your definition in the comments below.

Can Guided Selling Tools Improve the Customer Experience?

Pop quiz

What factor influences customers’ purchase decisions the most?

A. Price
B. Product
C. Customer experience

While price and product are good guesses, customer experience (CX) is quickly becoming the biggest influence on whether customers buy from you or a competitor. Gartner reports 89% of businesses plan to compete on the basis of CX. And by 2020, “customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product when it comes to differentiating a brand.”

But even though they see CX as critical to their success, sales reps are failing to deliver the experience their customers and prospects want.

This is where guided selling tools can help.

guided selling tools and customer experience

 

The (Broken) Circle of Trust

What’s the experience missing? Trust. In a survey of enterprises with more than $1B in revenue, Accenture found only 12% of sales executives believe their prospects and customers perceive them as trusted partners.

Without trust, sales don’t happen. Think about a time when you felt a sales rep was only out to meet their quota. Did you buy from them? You likely went with someone else whom you trusted had your best interests at heart. Someone who listened to your needs, educated you on your options, and helped you make the best decision for you, not their bottom line.

You’re not alone. According to the IDC, 50% of buyers say sales reps need to better understand the buyer’s need and objectives. And, ultimately, 1/3 of lost deals could’ve been won if the sales rep had been better informed and acted more client-oriented.

Guided Selling Tools & CX

So what is guided selling, and how can a guided selling tool help improve the customer experience? Guided selling helps sales teams gain customers’ and prospects’ trust and provide the genuine, personalized experience they’re looking for.

Guided Selling tools from Unboxed Technology

At their core, guided selling tools put humans, not quotas, first. Here are four ways that happens.

1. Understanding Customers’ Needs

Guided selling tools help reps understand the customer. The tool asks needs-based questions to engage customers and make the discovery process contextual and customer-centric. Sales reps can gather and record valuable insights about the customer’s lifestyle or background, their values and preferences, and their existing knowledge of a product or service category.

2. Educating Customers

A guided selling tool is more than a set of filters to drill down through features. For someone with expert-level knowledge, this kind of filtering system can work. But, more often than not, filters can be confusing and leave people frustrated. They don’t explain what something is or demonstrate its value.

Guided selling tools often weave in short educational modules, such as video demos or interactive tutorials, to help customers quickly and easily understand the differences between complex products and services.

3. Making Personalized Recommendations

The #1 thing sales reps can do to improve the buying experience? Put aside the generic pitch. Which is precisely what guided selling tools do. The tool not only records customer inputs, it analyzes what products and services best meet the customers’ needs and recommends the best solution based on what the customer shared.

Plus, there’s radical transparency about the value the solution provides. The recommendation is more than a what. It’s the why. Recommendation screens summarize what the customer said and show how different features relate to customer needs.

4. Giving Customers Control

All of these things culminate in a powerful feeling: control. Guided selling tools, in effect, put customers in the drivers’ seat. Their input is what drives how product or service options are narrowed down. They can explore and compare different solutions and immediately see the value a solution provides them.

Humans Buy from Humans

At the end of the day, you’re not in the sales business. You’re in the business of helping humans. Using a guided selling tool is your opportunity to show that you and your team are authentic, trustworthy humans to work with, which will only help your customer experience, and in effect your bottom line.

Meet Unboxed Advisor

Want to see guided selling in action? Check out Unboxed Advisor. Advisor has helped enterprise sales teams not only improve the customer experience, but also increase YOY sales by up to 60% and sales rep productivity by up to 40%.

The Advisor selling tool for Samsung in an Android tablet

What is Guided Selling? (White Paper)

what is guided selling
According to Gartner, 89% of businesses plan to compete on the basis of customer experience by 2016. If you find yourself in that 89%, what is your plan to improve your customer experience and use it as a differentiator? Guided selling can help.

So, what is guided selling? This post is an excerpt from our white paper, Deliver a Better Customer Experience with Guided Selling. Download the full white paper to learn more.

 

The Problem With Sales

It’s no secret, sales reps are missing the mark. Whether it’s a lack of training, poor engagement, or high turnover, they don’t always know how to deliver the best customer experience.

Sales reps are missing the mark and guided selling can help

In short, reps are failing to meet buyers’ needs. And without trust, sales don’t happen. People don’t buy from reps pushing product to meet a quota. People buy from trusted advisors who listen to their needs, educate them on their options, and help them make the best decision for them, not just your bottom line.

To earn trust and inspire confidence, your sales team needs to be able to deliver a high-quality customer experience and recommend needs-based solutions every time. Typical sales enablement tools like CRMs, content management systems, and marketing automation won’t close that gap for you. Those tools are primarily rep-focused, not customer-focused.

What Is Guided Selling?

So what is guided selling, and how can it help? Guided selling uses consistent, personalized needs-based assessments to right-fit your customers with the best product or service for them. It’s the art of asking smart questions and using customer responses to drive the best product or solution recommendation. Customer experience for the win!

With guided selling, reps can:

  • Deliver a high quality, personalized, consistent sales experience every time.
  • Guide customers to the best solution for their needs.
  • Generate the trust and confidence your customers need to make a purchase.

Guided selling builds trust by delivering an experience customers want.

Customers want consistency, knowledgeable sales reps, seamless, up-to-date information, personalization, control. Learn more about each of these in the full white paper.

 

Guided Selling Gets Results

The big question is, does guided selling get results? Both B2B and B2C enterprise sales teams using our guided selling tools have experienced results like these:

  • 14-60% improvement in YOY sales.
  • 40% increase in sales rep productivity.
  • 9% increase in return visits from customers.

In addition to great sales results, both your reps and your customers will enjoy these benefits:

  • Reps are more confident when engaging with customers.
  • Reps get up to speed faster and start selling sooner.
  • Customer satisfaction and engagement increase.
  • Customers make more confident purchase decisions.

Guided Selling Technology

Needs-based selling is not new, but the technology that simplifies it is. Our guided selling technology, Unboxed Advisor, pairs a smart recommendation engine with interactive education in a simple-to-use interface. Advisor’s powerful reporting engine captures everything from customer interactions and gives you access to data your CRM and other sales tools simply don’t have.
In the end, it’s all about helping your reps create a better customer experience.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward toward the technology—not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs

Download the White Paper

Still looking for an answer to the question, “What is guided selling?” Download the full white paper, Deliver a Better Customer Experience with Guided Selling, and see how adding guided selling to your sales enablement toolkit can help your reps deliver an experience your customers want and your competition will try to mimic.

 

DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER