What a guided selling software and Edison's lightbulb have in common

Guided selling software makes it easier for customers to find the right product quickly online. With the help of AI, the needs of the customer are determined and only those products are suggested that are actually searched for. What does this have in common with Thomas Edison's lightbulb?

When the light bulb was invented in 1879, according to numerous sources, digitization was still a long way off. Everyone knows Edison as the inventor of the light bulb. Strictly speaking, Edison did not invent the light bulb at all, but 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 durability, more light and lower energy costs. So it was hardly surprising that Edison was able to drive out his competitors with his model of the light bulb. With the carbon thread it was also possible for the first time to lay a power supply network for electricity over longer distances, and so Edison went down in history books when the inventor of the light bulb lit up entire streets and districts. Edison's lightbulb has since been considered one of mankind's greatest inventions, although strictly speaking it is an innovation, not an 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 advantages were immediately apparent ...

B2B companies can learn a lot from Edison

Guided selling software is comparable to Edison's lightbulb. Of course, they're two completely different items that don't even have a similar use case. The central point of comparison lies in the history of its origins 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 sales today have to face and what innovative sales looks like?

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

Today we can digitize anything we want. So why not use the knowledge of the salesman and apply it digitally, similar to what Edison did, who sold the invention of electricity as an innovation? Just like he used a simple tool, which brought a visible benefit and an enormous relief to everyday life, the salesperson could also make his job a lot easier if he only discovered the right tool.

Use the knowledge of the sales person

So we need a tool to transfer the knowledge of the sales person into the digital. That would be the innovation! If you look at the classic web shop, you will notice several problems, especially when it comes to more complex products such as paint for the exterior facade. As a prospective buyer, we have several questions in mind, such as: Does the color last equally on untreated and treated wood? Is the paint mold-resistant? What colors are there? Do i need a primer? Questions that a good salesperson can answer inside out. These questions are not answered in the webshop, let alone asked at all. Filter functions allow a limitation, but they do not replace the work that the customer still has to read and compare the respective product information.

Alternatively, you apply 20 filters and at the end you get no result because one condition excludes the other. A successful company today has to be able to arouse interest in buying before making contact - and this happens online these days and doesn't work by putting its 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 request to the sales department and we want to receive individual advice in advance.

Recognize the ceramic socket and guided selling software as interfaces

To come back to Edison: He did not owe his fame to the light bulb, but on the one hand to the discovery of 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 decisive breakthrough in the history of electronic light. Thanks to her, the lightbulb could be exchanged very easily. Today we can still find the ceramic socket 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 been no need for a new solution.

Interfaces such as the ceramic socket often remain in place once they have established themselves. An interface for online sales of B2B products is, for example, the Digital Product Selector. A guided selling software with which B2B companies with products that require explanation, such as a supplier of paints, 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 effectively and efficiently as in an analog business. But what makes such an interface an innovation?

The benefits of guided selling

A website or even a web shop can basically also be viewed as interfaces, the only disadvantage of these is that they are not designed for the sale of complex products. When the World Wide Web became accessible to everyone and digitization crept into every pocket, companies also began to convert and digitize. As we can currently see, however, the German economy is actually still a long way behind. Companies that work with Guided Selling are already seeing positive successes, which is not only reflected in the financial figures. The benefits of guided selling software cannot be denied: Ease of use, intuitive product search, quick results and information retrieval - in stark contrast to the confusion of a website, where basically only the analog product catalog was transferred to the website. You have the lightbulb, you have the product, but not the right interface to really appear.

With a guided selling software the user is asked questions. It is important to ask the right questions, because not all sales advisors are created equal. A short example: Anyone looking for a refrigerator in the Media Markt online shop will be directed to a digital sales advisor. There the user can answer a few questions such as “How should your new cooling device be set up? Built-in device or free-standing device? ”And“ Which interior fittings are important to you? LED interior lighting? Fruit & Vegetable Compartment? Bottle shelf? Height-adjustable shelves? ”Now you could say, okay, the tools are correct, but the knowledge of the salesperson has simply been ignored at this point. The questions that Media Markt's refrigeration appliance purchase advisor asks are none other than the previous filter functions. The customer is not addressed. It would be like if Edison had developed a holder for the light bulb, but the bulb could only be changed by an electrician. Edison would not have gone down in history with that. Simply using a tool such as guided selling software is only effective if you have understood this tool correctly.

Another important aspect that contributed to Edison's success was an electric meter, which he patented. The electricity meter made it possible to calculate the electricity needs of the users in order to finally be able to bill them for their individual consumption. Insights and market trends are also a decisive 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. Today every scientist, marketer and sales person will be able to sign it. Correctly applied, guided selling software can sustainably digitize B2B companies. 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 check them out Our customers' selectors click through ours Example color selector  or write us one Email.


We look forward to every inquiry about the Digital Product Selector. Let's digitize B2B sales sustainably together!


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