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Influencers Invited Sales Blog

What is a Complex Sale?

A complex sale is one that involves more than one decision maker. In order to complete a complex sale, you’ll need to convince at least a majority of the decision makers involved, not just a single person. This task is made even more daunting by the fact that you might not be told just who the decision makers are, and under some circumstances may not get a chance to speak with them all!

Complex sales are especially common in large B2B sales environments, but are not unknown in smaller sales or B2C sales as well. In B2B sales the decision makers might be a VP or executive, one or more managers, and possibly some end users. In consumer sales situations, the decision makers may include a husband and wife, children, roommates, etc. Usually there will be one decision maker who is responsible for making the final call, while the other decision makers, who have a stake in the purchase for one reason or another, will do their best to urge whichever solution they prefer.

In B2B sales the chief decision maker is usually either the executive who controls the affected department (for example, if you’re selling servers you might end up talking to the CTO for technology sales) or a professional buyer, who is the front person for all purchasing operations. Aside from decision makers, you might encounter influencers such as the chief decision maker’s assistant and/or gatekeeper, the product’s intended users, the person or persons who will be responsible for setting up and maintaining the product, members of the company’s legal team, and so on.

Complex sales to any prospect are further complicated by politics and power struggles that might already exist within the decision making team. For example, if you are selling to a husband and wife who have had an ongoing argument about what type of product to buy, their reactions to your sales pitch might be based on disagreements they’ve had earlier and might be almost totally unrelated to what you’ve just said. Similarly, a company vice president engaged in a power struggle with a VP from another department might either support or oppose buying from you based on factors that have nothing to do with your product.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.