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What is a Complex Sale?

We’re all familiar with self-service and transactional sales—regular, everyday sales that we encounter while out getting groceries or shopping for gifts for friends. But what are complex sales?

Otherwise known as enterprise sales, this term describes the process of selling products and services to corporate clients on a larger scale.


This approach to sales is obviously very different from the other examples we’ve cited. As such, it requires a different method. In this article, we’ll explain this method in detail.

complex sales


What Is a Complex Sale?

Before going any further, let’s examine this term in a little more detail: what is an enterprise sale?

As we touched on above, enterprise selling is when a company sells a product to a corporate client. Due to the large scale of such a project, as well as the intricacies involved with developing a product or service to suit the client’s needs, complex selling tends to be a rather involved, expensive process.


Additionally, multiple stakeholders are typically involved in this process and must give the product their stamp of approval. As such, enterprise selling can take a while, too.


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What Should You Keep in Mind When Undergoing a Complex Sale?

Enterprise selling differs quite substantially from transaction selling. As you might expect, there are many factors a salesperson must take into account before embarking upon a complex sales process.

In this section, we’ll explain some of the most important considerations you should take into account when enterprise selling. These include: 


  • The timeframe for the sale.
  • The resources you’ll need in order to see the process through.
  • The size of the market you’re developing your products for.



Complex sales can take a long time to complete. You need time to develop the product, implement any improvements based on the needs of your client, and test the product out to make sure it works as expected.

On top of that, the stakeholders involved in the process will need to approve your product before it can be sold to the client. This process can be a lengthy one even by itself.


Additionally, complex sales are considered high-risk, meaning that salespeople usually have multiple deals on the go in case one falls through, so extra time has to be allotted to account for those.



The complex sales cycle doesn’t just eat up a lot of time; it also uses a lot of money and other resources. Deals can take years to complete—if they go through at all—and are extremely labor-intensive, too.

Hopefully, your efforts will pay for themselves in the long term, but in the meantime, you should ensure that you have sufficient funds to see the project through to the end. 


Make sure not to get in over your head with a project you can’t afford; that’s a surefire way to end up in lots of trouble!


Market Size

Another thing to think about is the size of the market you’re developing your product for. Is there a large demand for your goods or services? Are there a good number of corporations you’ll be able to do business with?

In complex sales, these are important considerations, as you want to make sure that your product is actually viable.


The likelihood is that you’ll be dealing with a fairly small niche. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to find ways to brand yourself effectively and build a solid reputation within the industry.


What Does the Complex Sales Process Look Like?

We’ve briefly alluded to the enterprise sales cycle earlier in this article, but what exactly does this involve? Given that transactional sales and complex sales are so different, is the sales process very different, too?

You may be surprised to learn that the sales process for both complex and transactional sales is very similar. Both cycles involve the same four steps:


  • Discovery.
  • Qualification.
  • Pitch.
  • Closing.


In this section, we’ll walk you through each of these four steps in detail so that you know what to expect from them.



During this part of the complex sales process, you should find out all you’ll need to know about your client. This step will include:


  • Consultations with the customer to determine what their needs and expectations are.
  • Researching the client to see whether they’ve ordered similar solutions or worked with competitors.
  • Discovering more about the stakeholders involved in this project: who they are, what they do, and why they have an interest in your project.


Once you’ve found out all you’ll need to know about the client, you’re ready to move on to the next stage of the sales process.




In the qualification stage, you’ll put your research to use. The information you’ve gathered will help you to identify your prospect’s pain points, which, in turn, will make it easier to understand why your product can help them. 

Point out to your client why not addressing this pain point would be bad for their business.


Next, demonstrate how your solution will help resolve the problem they’re having and explain what makes you and your product the best choice when compared to your market competition.

If you manage to convince your prospect, that’s a massive step forward!



At long last, it’s the moment you’ve been preparing for—your chance to show the client that your product is exactly the solution they want, the solution to solve all their problems.

It’s time for the pitch.


When going into a product presentation, it’s important that you do your research.

Your prospect is far more likely to be convinced by your proposal if you go into the meeting armed with testimonials, case studies, and statistics, not just a few flattering words.


Be sure to keep the client’s pain points in mind, catering the presentation to their precise needs, and carry yourself with quiet confidence.



If you’ve managed to convince both the client and your stakeholders of the value of your product during the pitch stage, then you’ve finally made it to the close.

In complex sales, closing the deal is a more complicated process than in a transactional sale. This is because enterprise sales often provide the client with many different solutions, as opposed to just one or two.


Once the deal is finalized and the contract has been signed, be sure to remain in contact with your client.

By showing that you are still eager to help, even after the sale has been made, you can put in place a strong, healthy relationship with the customer.



Final Thoughts on Complex Selling

In enterprise selling, there are certainly a lot of moving parts to keep track of. However, if you manage to pull such a sale off, you’ll find the rewards more than worth the effort.

To ensure that things go as smoothly as possible, however, give each stage of the complex sales cycle your full attention. No one part is more important than the other: without thorough qualification, you won’t be able to come up with an effective pitch; without an effective pitch, you won’t be able to close the deal, and so on.

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