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STAMFORD, Conn., May 18, 2021

Gartner Says Sales Leaders Should Adopt AI-Based Guided Selling to Increase the Chances of Closing New Deals

Gartner Analysts Discuss Emerging Sales Technology Initiatives at the Virtual Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, May 17-18

Artificial intelligence (AI) functionality has permanently transformed the form and function of guided selling capabilities, according to Gartner, Inc. B2B sales organizations should help sellers improve sales execution by adding AI-based guided selling to their sales technology stack.

During the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually today, Gartner analysts said the traditional forms of guided selling, both as a sales process methodology and as technology, have proved to be limited. They lack a data-driven approach and do not provide statistically relevant recommendations that guide sellers to win deals. Both forms of guided selling have also undergone considerable change because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic exposed cracks in many organization’s sales processes,” said Tad Travis, research vice president at Gartner. “Knowing that sales process discipline must be improved to increase the chances of closing new deals, sales leaders are investigating new data-driven, AI-based guided selling functions for improving sales execution.”

AI-based guided selling has four primary components (see Figure 1) and comes in two forms: prescriptive (recommended next best actions, such as what content to send next to a prospect), or predictive (insights that reveal statistically relevant indicators about sales process steps). Rather than requiring sellers to decide what to do next to move a relationship, deal or quote forward, sellers can rely on statistically derived analytics.

“The value proposition of AI-based guided selling is undeniable,” said Mr. Travis. “However, it is not an immediate solution for better sales execution, as organizations with data quality or process issues may not be able to take advantage immediately.” 

Figure 1: The Four Primary Components of AI-Based Guided Selling

Source: Gartner (May 2021)

Before implementing AI-based guided selling, Gartner recommends that sales leaders follow the below four actions:

  • Educate all sales partners on the foundational elements of AI-based guided selling, focusing on the importance of collecting the microlevel actions of engagement that sellers undertake within the span of an active deal.
  • Identify sales process steps and business outcomes that are unique to the organization’s processes to find the best-fit solution.
  • Update the sales technology roadmap by selecting the form of AI-based guided selling technology that is most relevant to the sales organization’s lead, opportunity, sales enablement and quote management use cases.
  • Prioritize where AI-based guided selling functions would be most relevant by identifying the parts of the organization’s sales value chain that are prone to the highest amounts of human-educated guessing, or that require the most amount of business rule evaluation.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can learn more in the report "Optimize Sales Execution With Artificial Intelligence for B2B Guided Selling."

About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference

Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in B2B buying behaviors, customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually on May 17-18, 2021, sales leaders are learning from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.

About Gartner for Sales Leaders

Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement. Follow news and update from the Gartner Sales practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSales.

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About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 14,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.