What Guided Selling Software and Edison's lightbulb have in common

Guided selling software makes it easier for customers to quickly find the right product online. With the help of AI, the customer's needs are determined and only those products that are actually wanted are suggested. So what does this have in common with Thomas Edison's light bulb?
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According to numerous sources, digitalization was still a long way off when the light bulb was invented in 1879. Everyone knows Edison as the inventor of the light bulb. Strictly speaking, Edison did not invent the light bulb at all, but rather experimented with a carbon filament in combination with the light bulbs that already existed at the time and recognized the advantages of using the carbon filament, namely longer life, more light and lower energy costs. So it was hardly surprising that Edison was able to drive away his competitors with his light bulb model. With the carbon filament it was now possible for the first time to lay a power supply network for electricity over longer distances, and so Edison went down in the history books as the inventor of the light bulb, who lit up entire streets and districts. Edison's light bulb has since been considered one of humanity's greatest inventions, although strictly speaking it is an innovation and not a invention. However, what Edison had ahead of his colleagues, whose names no one knows today, is quite simple: he used the existing knowledge about electricity and light, supplemented the light bulb with a sustainable material and, last but not least, gave the light bulb a new design. The benefits and benefits were immediately visible…

B2B companies can learn a lot from Edison

Guided selling software is comparable to Edison's light bulb. Of course, these are two completely different items that don't even have a similar use case. The central point of comparison lies in the history of its creation and the innovative spirit behind it. In short: The story of Edison and the invention of the light bulb can also be adapted to sales. The first question that arises is what challenges does sales have to face today and what does innovative sales look like?

A quick glance at a company's website is often enough to identify key problems. It's good that most companies today have at least their own website and many also work with an online shop and a CRM (customer relationship management) to digitally process large amounts of data. However, far too often what the customer sees on the website is anything but user-friendly. Until the potential customer receives a product recommendation on the website, he or she first has to wade through product catalogs, independently filtering out the products that suit their needs, and then not even being given the option of being able to complete their purchase directly. No, instead the request is forwarded to sales - which isn't bad per se, but costs a lot of time for both sides. Sales then has to check the whole thing again, ask questions and also filter the products from the extensive product portfolios to make sure that the product requested is actually suitable.

Today we can digitize anything we want. So why not use the salesperson's knowledge and apply it digitally, similar to what Edison did when he sold the invention of electricity as an innovation? Just as he used a simple tool that brought visible benefits and made everyday life enormously easier, the sales person could also make his job a lot easier if he just discovered the right tool.

Use the salesperson’s knowledge

So we need a tool to transport the salesperson’s knowledge into the digital world. That would be the innovation! If you look at the classic online shop, you will notice several problems, especially when it comes to more complex products such as paint for the exterior facade. As prospective buyers, we have several questions in mind such as: Does the paint last equally on untreated and treated wood? Is the paint resistant to mold? What colors are there? Do I need a primer? Questions that a good sales person can answer straight away. In the online shop, these questions are not answered, let alone asked at all. Although filter functions enable narrowing down, these do not replace the work that the customer still has to read and compare the respective product information.

Alternatively, you apply 20 filters and end up with no result because one condition excludes the other. A successful company today has to be able to arouse interest in purchasing before contact is made - and these days that happens online and doesn't work by putting your products and data sheets on the website and then leaving the customer to do it alone. We are now used to comparing various offers online before we express a specific purchase wish to sales and want to receive individual advice in advance.

Recognize the ceramic frame and guided selling software as interfaces

To come back to Edison: He owes his fame not to the light bulb, but rather to the discovery of the carbon filament and, on the other hand, and many people are not even aware of this, to the invention of the ceramic socket for the light bulb in 1890. The ceramic socket brought, pathetically speaking, the decisive breakthrough in the history of electronic light. Thanks to her, the light bulb could be replaced very easily. Today we can still find the ceramic frame in probably all households. It has simply never been replaced because it makes using the light bulb - just changing the bulb - child's play and to this day there has not been a need for a new solution.

Interfaces like the ceramic socket often remain in place once they have become established. An example of an interface for online sales of B2B products is the Digital Product Selector. Guided selling software with which B2B companies with products that require explanation, such as a paint supplier, can recommend the right product for their individual project to their customers in just a few minutes. In other words: customer advice can take place digitally just as well and efficiently as in an analog store. But what makes such an interface an innovation?

The benefits of guided selling

A website or a web shop can basically be viewed as interfaces, but these have the disadvantage that they are not designed for the sale of complex products. When the World Wide Web became accessible to everyone and digitalization crept into every pocket, companies also began to convert and digitalize. However, as we are currently seeing, the German economy is actually still lagging far behind. Companies that work with guided selling are already recording positive success, which is not only reflected in the financial figures. The benefits of guided selling software cannot be denied: easy to use, intuitive product search, quick results and obtaining information - in complete contrast to the confusing nature of a website, where only the analog product catalog has been transferred to the website. You have the light bulb, you have the product, but not the right interface to really stand out.

With guided selling software, the user is asked questions. It is important to ask the right questions, because not all purchasing advisors are the same. A short example: If you look for a refrigerator in the Media Markt online shop, you will be taken to a digital purchasing advisor. There the user can answer a few questions such as “How should your new cooling device be designed?” Built-in device or free-standing device?" and "Which interior design is important to you? LED interior lighting? Fruit & vegetable compartment? Bottle rack? Height-adjustable shelves?” Now you could say, okay, the tools are right, but the sales person’s knowledge has simply been ignored at this point. The questions that Media Markt's refrigerator purchasing advisor asks are nothing other than the previous filter functions. The customer is not taken into account. That would be like if Edison had developed a holder for the light bulb, but the bulb could not be changed independently but only by an electrician. Edison would probably not have gone down in history. Simply using a tool like guided selling software is only effective if you understand this tool correctly.

Another important aspect that contributed to Edison's success was an electric meter that he patented. The electricity meter made it possible to calculate users' electricity needs so that they could then be billed for their individual consumption. Insights and market trends are also a crucial advantage for a successful online shop because they make it possible to react quickly to changes in demand. How do you say today? Knowledge is power and data is information to enrich knowledge. Every scientist, marketer and sales person will be able to sign this today. When used correctly, guided selling software can digitize B2B companies sustainably. Larger companies are already working with it and the trend shows that guided selling will be firmly established in a few years... like the light bulb and its ceramic socket.

Would you like to find out more about our SaaS solution, the Digital Product Selector? Then take a look Selectors of our customers click through to our Example color selector  or write us one e-mail.


We look forward to your inquiry about the Digital Product Selector. Let's digitize B2B sales together in a sustainable way!


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