• September 1, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Tech Solution: Guided-Selling Tools

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There has been rising interest in guided selling tools as companies offer increasingly complex products and services, but do not expand their sales teams. In the past salespeople had to know every product nuance or had to search multiple systems to obtain product information--and this data was not available during the customer interaction. Guided selling tools streamline this process, because the tools are designed to help sales associates offer the right products and information to customers, to reduce cycle time, and to increase revenue through and cross- and upsell opportunities. They reduce customer churn and allow salespeople to adapt to customer life cycle changes that may affect a sale in real time.

Active Decisions Active Advisor
Delivery Model: installed software

Price: Pricing starts between $40,000 and $80,000, depending on implementation size.

Business Benefits: Companies can increase revenue via more personalized and relevant sales pitches and product proposals. Cross-selling capabilities make it easier for consumers to find--and sales associates to recommend--compatible add-on products and services. Active Advisor increases the sales force's knowledge of product information and enables new salespeople to train and inform themselves more quickly.

Functionality: An interactive guide presents questions that assess a consumer's needs and interests. Multiple guide types provide the ability to engage and guide consumers (ranging from experienced to novice) in a manner that maps best to their personal buying process. Recommendations are presented together with the qualifying questions, enabling consumers to change answers and get new recommendations in real time, or further refine the choices by answering additional questions. Active Advisor integrates cross selling to suggest additional products and services that complement primary recommendations. It can also scan bar codes in stores for on-the-fly comparison of products to let sales associates provide product comparisons.

Contact: Active Decisions at 1-866-533-2433; or visit www.activedecisions.com

Blue Martini Guided Selling

Delivery Model: installed software

Price: Pricing is based on transaction volume and ranges from $121,500 for 100 orders per day to $924,750 for up to 5,500 orders per day.

Business Benefits: Designed specifically to tackle the challenges of e-commerce Web sites, Guided Selling guides users through an interactive product recommendation and selection process, incorporating user input on needs and preferences, to present a targeted view of a product catalog. It makes it easier for customers to understand and compare features, get advice, find the right product or service, and configure those products and services.

Functionality: Designed to be implemented with Blue Martini's eCommerce application or another e-commerce solution, Guided Selling is built on top of a product configuration and recommendation engine. The engine uses preferences specified by the user during an interactive dialogue with a customer to present a set of product choices. Users can create an interactive catalog of feature navigation and leverage catalog data in existing ERP and e-business applications. They can also display information in an existing e-commerce interface and/or launch from SFA and CRM applications.

Contact: Blue Martini Software at 1-800-258-3627; or visit www.bluemartini.com

Comergent Guided Selling and Configuration

Delivery Model: installed software

Price: Pricing starts at $75,000 as part of the Comergent eBusiness suite.

Business Benefits: The product lets users customize complex products and services based on multiple options and item-specific business rules. This allows companies to guide customers, partners, and sales agents through selecting and validating products to provide accurate and consistent product solutions to customers. Customers can find, configure, and purchase the right product.

Functionality: Salespeople can create views of configurable products via the Comergent Visual Modeler. End users can share rules and common elements of models among related products and leverage existing product data to make complex configurable products e-commerce ready. The solution comes with a straightforward interface allowing nontech users to change model attributes and write mathematical formulas. Last, users can automate labor-intensive parts of the model development process with model import and export functions.

Contact: Comergent Technologies at 1-866-236-7156; email at sales@comergent.com; or visit www.comergent.com

Contact Editorial Assistant Colin Beasty at cbeasty@destinationCRM.com

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