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Rainmaker 2018 Panel Preview: Unpacking The Complex Sale

6 min read
Updated Aug. 3, 2021
Published Feb. 28, 2018

Have you ever wondered why enterprise sales is becoming increasingly complex?

For starters, companies now have a decreased tolerance for risk; no one wants to be responsible for making a bad decision. Toss in security concerns, and you’re looking at a changing sales environment with more decision makers and longer sales cycles. From the customer’s perspective, a growing array of solutions coupled with tons of data and information lead to stress and uncertainty throughout the buying process.

When thousands of senior executives were recently asked to describe the complex-solutions purchase process, the most common responses alternated between “hard,” “painful,” and “awful.”

You get the picture.

So, what’s the solution to navigating a complex sale and making the process a less traumatizing (and maybe even a positive) experience for buyers? The key is to make it easier for customers by staying one step ahead; sales teams that anticipate and eliminate obstacles are 62% more likely to win a high-quality sale. As time goes on and deals become even more complicated, it is critical for organizations to understand how to get results and operate within complex sales environments.

At Rainmaker 2018, Julie Mai (Enterprise Account Executive, Salesloft) leads the panel Not Just For Enterprise: Unpacking The Complex Sale on Tuesday, March 6 at 2:20 pm. Julie will dive into complex sales environments to help you come away with best practices to move multiple stakeholders within an organization towards adopting your solution.

What exactly is a complex sales environment?

While complex sales are more common in large B2B environments, you can also find them when working with smaller companies. The biggest indicator that you are entering a complex sale is the number of people involved in the decision-making process. If ten years ago selling to enterprise companies meant dealing with one or two primary decision-makers, now, you’ll meet with a committee of five or more people. In fact, the number of people involved in B2B purchases increased from an average of 5 people two years ago to nearly 7 today.

Needless to say, the more people involved, the longer it takes to reach an agreement. This means you are looking at a much longer sales cycle – in some cases, more than 12 months. Furthermore, each committee has its own dynamics. These dynamics are affected by the interpersonal relationships across team members, each person’s individual and team priorities, and each member’s feeling about the level of risk involved in the alternatives.

How can I master complex sales environments?

Instead of thinking of a complex sale as one deal, think of it as ten small closes where your goal is to create trust and credibility as you build the relationship and work towards closing the deal. In reality, the goal is to work with the committee to identify common objectives and shared constraints. You want to paint a shared vision with the group so that everyone is working together instead of having each person fighting for their own “share” of the solution.

Here’s something else to consider: with more people involved, you will be engaging with different roles; executives, end users, and procurement (to name a few) throughout the process. It is also essential to understand the value of building relationships with each person on the committee. Whether you engage with members one-on-one or in group meetings, you should get to know each member’s specific objectives and pain points while keeping everyone focused on the shared goals.

For example, let’s say the committee’s primary goal is to introduce a solution that will increase productivity and build a stronger pipeline. On an individual team role level this can play out as follows:

  • End Users: Primarily concerned with ease of use and support; ask themselves “Can I really do more, faster, and with higher levels of authenticity?”
  • Executives: Want to make sure your solution moves the company forward and keeps it competitive; ask themselves “How is this going to (ultimately) affect revenue?”
  • Vice Presidents: Focus on solving organizational challenges; ask themselves “How can we roll this out across the teams most effectively to have a smooth transition and start to see the positive results as quickly as possible?”
  • Procurement: Care about price and compliance; ask themselves “Is this solution going to be cost-effective and am I getting the best value for our company for this type of solution?”

Taking into consideration that only 14% of organizations collaborate well across departments, you’ll need to be the collaboration vehicle for people on both sides. Make sure to work with the team to create a Mutual Success Plan and use that as the guide throughout the entire project.

At Rainmaker 2018, Julie Mai will cover how to approach the different stages of a complex sales cycle – from prospecting, all the way through the negotiation stage – so you can move multiple stakeholders within an organization towards approving and adopting your solution.

What are the benefits once you master the complex sale?

Since most complex sales involve bigger companies, the deals are often more profitable with substantial initial sales. But the ultimate reward is a long-term agreement where you can move across the organization over time. Additionally, your sales cycle will shorten as your business becomes more aware of the different facets early on in the process. You will also be able to form more realistic expectations of what is required within each sales environment so that you can better manage time frames and pipelines.

The panel Not Just For Enterprise: Unpacking The Complex Sale on Tuesday, March 6 at 2:20 pm is intended for anyone starting to move upmarket, or companies who are already selling upmarket and running into complex sales environments. You’ll hear specific examples of working through complex sales, lessons learned of what works… and also what backfires. Plus, you’ll come away with a checklist of what to consider every time you enter into a complex deal.

Want to learn more from our customers and industry leaders? Join us in Atlanta from March 11-13, 2019 for Rainmaker 2019!

Rainmaker 2019