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Why you Have to Become a Trusted Advisor – How Guided Selling Helps you to Differentiate

Here’s an interesting prediction made in 2014 by Peter Firth, Director at TNS, the world’s largest shopper insights agency.

“Guided selling will start to become the next evolution of sales force automation helping brands and retailers to actively guide a shopper’s buying decision.”

Peter Firth advises businesses on growth strategies around new market entry and innovation, and he was spot on with his prediction. Guided Selling is becoming inevitable, particularly in a time when consumers are morphing into mobile shoppers. They have shorter attention spans and just don’t want to wade through a growing clutter of content, offers, and products before being able to make confident purchase decisions.

Virtually anyone who offers products or services to shoppers today is tasked with providing them with an easy way out by making deciding and purchasing much easier. In the wake of digitalization megatrends, we see businesses across all sectors integrating digital advice solutions to improve their customer satisfaction levels and bolster sales – from 20% and up.

Just have a look at how Sephora does it. The beauty chain is a great example of a company that isn’t shy about using digital advice technologies to offer shoppers meaningful decision support in the path to purchase. And the results speak for themselves: Sephora has managed to create a clearly differentiated experience, they have been voted as the No.1 trusted brand, and their penetration of digital to physical retail sales is double that of the prestige beauty industry.

According to a Demandware study, 72 percent of U.S. beauty brands are already following suit and are testing Guided Selling approaches to push sales.

Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners said about Sephora’s most recent interactive mobile Guided Selling solution, a color correction quiz:

“Engaging customers in interactive quizzes, games or contests is a great way to create a stronger bond with the brand. It’s a smart way to educate consumers and strengthen the brand’s relationship with the consumer while increasing sales. As consumers get excited about color-correcting products, it helps foster brand enthusiasm, creates an ego boost that increases self-esteem and may inspire them to shop and ‘buy now’ on the mobile site.”

Mobile users can find the best products for their skin tones

If you’re smart about it, Guided Selling offers you a way to stand out with something valuable and unique that cannot be replicated easily – your expertise and advice, service, and proactive customer support. Understanding and leveraging this opportunity, brings you closer to becoming a go-to source and authority in your space, which is the new currency today and tomorrow.


4 Ways How Guided Selling helps you to become a trusted source

1. Build authority – It is more important and critical than ever. If you demonstrate leadership and show that you are interested in offering your advice and expertise to help your visitors make a decision, they will be more likely to purchase from you rather than the competitor they don’t have a relationship with. You gain their trust and confidence as well as word-of-mouth advertising.

2. Curate – To avoid the clutter and noise in the digital realm, shoppers increasingly rely on expert advice in their customer journey. People seek a safe haven in the form of trusted retailers or brands and as a result, they are unconsciously consolidating their shopping destinations. To stay relevant, you have to cultivate an advisory relationship. You have to provide a valuable, curated experience in which relevant products and offers are selected or spotlighted based on the shoppers individual needs and wants.

Studies show that a growing number of people in the demographic du jour, the millenials, turn to a new breed of experts for guidance: online advisors and interactive online resources that make deciding easy for them at any given time and place. If you have not acknowledged this trend yet, be aware that the generation born after the millennials, the Gen Z a.k.a “Millenials on Steroids”, is expected to be even more inclined to using online solutions to find and pick what they want quickly. So, be prepared…

3. Provide context – Your authority and curation mean nothing if you don’t provide content. By using Guided Selling you are able to educate, build deeper trust and establish authority. There are several clever examples that explain recommendations without getting too complex. They also answer questions that are important to shoppers such as Why should I care? What does this mean for me? Why should I buy this? What will it do for me? in a very consumer-driven and streamlined way.

4. Communicate your USP – One of the biggest mistakes businesses can do is over-promotion and talking about themselves too much. Yes, it’s fine to promote offers and deals, but relationships and trust only begin to grow the moment you make it about your customers. By communicating your Guided Selling solution, you demonstrate a willingness to support and share advice with your potential future customers, rather than just statically awaiting a sale.

It will make people aware of the new solution available, and puts you in the position of a knowledgeable and trusted expert who’s able to provide a non-restricted, easy and frictionless advice and shopping experience. The most successful promotion formats for your interactive product advisors are:

– Social Media – Given the interactive, customer-oriented, and entertaining nature of interactive product advisors, promoting your solution via these channels will help you capture the attention and interest of potential customers more easily. It will get you more shares and traffic as well as an increased brand awareness.

Promoting Guided Selling solutions via Social Media to increase awareness and engagement (Pinterest / Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn)

– Newsletter – Although I didn’t believe it at first, newsletters do still work. In several campaigns by our clients who promoted their interactive product advisors via newsletters, we measured an increase in the number of returning visitors by over 20% as well as conversion rate increases by +100%.

Communicating the need-based and consumer-oriented nature of Guided Selling solutions in newsletters or news feeds

– Homepage banner – It puts your product advisor on the ‘hot-spot’. Our data shows that this form of promotion leads to 90% more advisor starts. This indicates that people are highly interested in using interactive solutions like these.

In a previous article, Vera Mayer has covered several tips for a more steady integration of your product advisors in the customer journey. Check it out here.

Promoting Guided Selling solution in rotating banner on homepage


To attract visitors and become their favorite place to shop, you have to be different. Guided Selling solutions do more than create unique, reassuring shopping experiences for buyers. They allow you to stand out above the competition by stepping up as trusted expert and advisor who cares about giving shoppers what they want: An easy way to shop.

Happy to hear your thoughts. Sound off in the comments below.


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Martin Schliefnig is the Co-Founder of zoovu, an international company that provides businesses with the technology to build, manage and deploy intelligent digital assistants.