What is a Complex Sale?

Lots of sales people and companies struggle with complex selling. As a culture, most of our purchases and transactions are commodity sales. Statistics tell us that once a sale reaches a certain threshold relative to how the buyer perceives their economic security, the sale becomes complex and a new set of rules apply. Most senior-level executives and owners from mature businesses make very good complex sales people. They know their product or service and understand the dynamics and challenges faced by their prospects. If the opportunity is qualified and the need is there, the principal of a company or executive will lose a sale only when the buyer is unable to finance it. So why do so many SMBs struggle to close sales? There are a number of answers and the mix of challenges differs from company to company. Here is our list top-three list:

The sales person overstated the prospect’s interest before calling in the closer.

The sales person attempted to close the opportunity one too many times before the prospect had made the buy decision.

The sales representative was focused on closing the sale and not advancing the opportunity.

In the first case, the sales person was excited about the opportunity and most likely was being measured by how far along his or her opportunities are in the sales pipeline. Measuring sales performance is important, but measuring the right things, asking the right questions and rewarding the right kinds of activities are critical to effective resource utilization.

In the second case, the sales person is not reading the level of commitment the sale will have on the prospect. In high-dollar sales transactions, it is important to know where the decision maker(s) internal pain threshold lies and to know that you have all the questions and objections resolved before moving to the close. Attempting to close a sale too early can cause the buyer to go with a competitor.

In the third case, the sales person is most likely getting the highest reward for closing a quota on a monthly basis. In complex selling, sales cycles can be very long, sometimes more than a year. It is important to have an accurate estimate of the sales cycle so that rewards can be distributed based on multiple types of performance.