What is guided selling? Like sales enablement, it’s truly more than a buzzword.
From the hive mind (a.k.a., Wikipedia):
Guided selling simplifies and automates the maintenance and deployment of all knowledge that is required to analyze customer needs, define the solution, and generate a proposal to fulfill those needs.
So what might a CPQ software vendor like iQuoteXpress know about guided selling principles that your average B2B sales person may not yet know? Probably not much.
But knowing is not even half the battle. Because it’s what CPQ solutions providers DO to support guided selling practices that’s making a big difference in how we sell.
Using that Wikipedia entry as the de facto definition of guided selling, let’s break it down and show how configure, price, quote software not only meets every criterion of that definition but in fact enables guided selling.
Guided selling simplifies and automates…
It’s a cloud-based solution that works in both a standalone capacity and/or as part of your CRM system.
It’s a sales proposal automation platform loaded with professional proposal templates and built on a centralized product and pricing configuration engine.
I.e., “simplify” and “automate” are the beating heart of CPQ.
There are a few CPQ software vendors who are in fact “designers in disguise,” offering little more than sales proposal templates. Which simplifies, but doesn’t automate.
It’s when you combine those templates with product and pricing configuration (and, ideally, integrate CPQ with CRM) that the “automate” criterion is fulfilled.
[maintain and deploy] all knowledge…
On its own, CPQ doesn’t completely address the “maintenance and deployment of all knowledge that is required to analyze customer needs.” But it does do a deep dive into the myriad steps that move a customer from a reply to an RFP to a signed quote. And what knowledge is more important than that?
Think about it: if you’re focused on guided selling as a system, which part of your sales process should you be guiding the most? The signing of the quote, a.k.a, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.
Some sales organizations are content to know a quote was sent, but for those that have made guided selling a mantra, they seek to: automate the collection of every data point (“all knowledge that is required to analyze”)... so that they can optimize their sales proposal processes (“maintenance”)... and better meet customer needs.
As any CPQ software vendor can tell you, it ain’t rocket science. It’s reporting and analytics at the level of each individual sales quote that supports the principles of guided selling in the “quote to close” part of your sales process.
...and generate a proposal to fulfill those needs.
Well, duh. It’s the #1 job of your CPQ system. Let’s expand on that. Because the conclusion of your guided selling efforts does not come when you simply generate a proposal. It’s when you close a sale.
The best CPQ solutions on the market help you nurture your prospect through the quote-signing process, with automated replies and reminders that help you do the right amount of nudging (and learn from previous nudges which nudge was most effective).
Additionally, your sales proposal automation solution gives sales managers reports and analytics they can use to GUIDE the SELLING efforts of each rep during the closing process.
Conclusion: CPQ, while not in and of itself a complete solution for guided selling, is an integral part of guided selling of the most critical part of the sale.
CPQ software helps you get a professionally designed quote to a prospect, ensures it’s populated with optimal product and pricing configurations, and tracks it from sent to signed.
You could do guided selling without CPQ… but why suffer?