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Selling a Complex Solution
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Michael Nick

Principal at Technology Finance Partners, Best selling Author, founder ROI4Sales, Speaker

Selling a Complex Solution

We can all agree selling a complex solution is not like selling a commodity. Your prospects have a uniqueness about them that requires you to be more thorough in your upfront preparation and more detailed in your presentation.

Prospects in a complex sale typically take a team approach to their research and purchase. No one person is going to take responsibility for a major strategic decision. They are more organized by task, and deliverable. For example, a team may include IT, business user and a person from finance. Economic buyer, end user and technical buyer. Each with their own responsibility in the purchase process.

This separation of duty makes it more difficult for a sales professional. You need to include a team from your side as well. You need to be able to sell broad and deep into an organization. Which means your business case needs to be more complex and more complete.

As you know many companies have changed their buying patterns by:

  • involving finance from the beginning of the process through the close
  • performing extensive research on the market, your company, and your competitors
  • expecting you to do your homework on the prospect
  • putting out more comprehensive RFQ’s
  • requiring you to present preliminary pricing for a value hypothesis
  • involving not only the CFO but other C-Suite members in the final decision making process

Our research indicates that elongated sales cycles from delayed decisions are forcing vendors to discount heavily to move deals along. Lack of quality sales tools like an ROI, Business Case or TCO, contribute to the delays in making buying decisions. Your prospects simply don’t have the information they require to make an intelligent strategic buy. The key words here are “strategic buy.” Decisions in a complex sale involve the economic impact on the entire organization, not just the department you are dealing with.

Vendors today are not taking the time to research their impact on the corporation’s issues, goals and often times, financials. In many cases they don’t know how or don’t have the tools to make the effort. The result is delayed decisions, lost opportunities to competition and many more losses to no-decision.

It is a key factor in any complex sale to gain a better understanding of the cost of status quo and threshold for pain (tipping point). These two calculations will guide you (the sales professional) to the conversation that will end with your understanding and agreement with a prospect over why they want to make a change and at what point (tipping point) they will actually make that change. This information will help you forecast more accurately, lose less to no decision and give you the opportunity to accurately calculate your economic impact on the department and the organization as a whole.

Remember as a consultative sales professional selling complex solutions you need to thoroughly understand a prospects issues, pains and goals and the impact they will have on the entire organization. You need to focus on their threshold for pain and work with them to calculate the economic impact of your solution.

Selling complex goods and services requires a lot more effort on your part. You need to:

  • use sales tools for discovery (Including ROI, TCO, and a Value Hypothesis)
  • learn the language of the C-Suite to effectively communicate your value
  • do your homework on every deal using tools like LinkedIn advance search or InsideView
  • develop a high quality Business Case

Remember, selling a complex solution is not like selling a commodity. You need to have and use high quality sales tools to succeed.

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