Big accounts are invaluable to sales departments. They promise juicy contracts and prestigious references.
But the challenge is as great as the expected gains. The constraints and issues specific to large companies can make your deals drag on for months - what we call a complex sale.
It requires a personalized sales method to select, analyze and approach your targets.
Here are some techniques to help you perfect the art of complex selling.
What qualifies as complex selling?
As the name suggests, a complex sale is a sales process that reaches out to companies with very specific constraints and issues. It often relates to larger companies that are more difficult to approach.
To qualify as complex, a sale must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Long sales cycles: on average, a complex sale takes a minimum of 6 months to get to a deal.
- Numerous decision-makers: As more than one individual is involved in the decision, roles are less clear, and the process of deliberation becomes more complex.
- Custom sales: the product or service is defined in collaboration with the buyer (consulting, service, or software on demand).
- High perceived risk: large accounts are responsible for more operations and are therefore more averse to change.
- Technical issues: the product or solution involves technical issues that require outside experts.
Some examples of complex sales
There are some sectors where sales reps are often dealing with complex sales (if you are in these sectors, you might recognize yourself):
- Retail: a lot of interactions between stores and retailers.
- Construction: construction projects are long and complex.
- Pharmaceuticals and health: various regulatory issues.
- SaaS: high competition and numerous integration issues with the existing stack.
The many benefits of complex selling
Even so, the difficulties of complex selling are equal to the gains. Thus, you can expect:
- Deals with larger amounts.
- More opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.
- More prestigious references.
- Challenge and skill development for your reps.
Want to try your luck and get into complex selling? Let's dig a little deeper into the subject.
Which sales method to close complex sales?
Because of its scope, complex selling is unlike common sales processes. You need to win over companies with very specific structures and problems.
There’s a lot to learn from the current trend of ABM (account-based marketing). Instead of addressing one group of customers indiscriminately, ABM adapts prospecting and communication to some specific customer profiles.
This means focusing on a few key accounts, understanding them from the inside, and nurturing them with tailored-made marketing campaigns.
ABM is a great answer to complex selling. It helps you channel your energy into a few well-chosen accounts and maximize your sales force.
Here's how you can apply it to your sales process.
6 steps to follow up and close a complex sale
Based on ABM, the best way to approach a complex sale rely on 6 key steps:
#1 Define your ICP precisely
If you're only targeting a few accounts, you might as well make sure they're the right ones.
This is the best way to avoid wasting time on sales not only complex but also unprofitable!
To make sure you're aiming right, you can define your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). You want to filter your prospecting list to keep only the companies that you know to bring the most revenue, loyalty, and new opportunities.
- Company size: How many employees do our most valuable accounts have?
- Revenue: what is their revenue, budget, and average contract value (ACV)?
- Location: in what region are they located?
- Business issues: what are their typical needs and problems they face?
- Existing infrastructure: what tools, equipment, and systems do they already use?
When you apply these parameters to your search, you can narrow down your list of accounts to a few organizations that fit your business needs.
#2 Map your target organization
To maximize your sales efforts, you want to know the internal structure of your ICP by heart. This means studying and analyzing their organizational chart, but also the existing relationships around the actual decision maker:
You want to know who in your target organization represents :
- The decision maker: the one who drives the budget and is responsible for the purchasing decision.
- The end user: the one who will directly benefit from your solution.
- Influencer: an insider who may have an influence on the project through their expertise or role.
- The executive board: who are the members of the executive committee, and what are the latest management initiatives?
Each can have a decisive input into the deliberations and can serve as a hook. That's why it's best to find out about them before you start canvassing.
#3 Customize your presentation and demo
A complex sale is complex for a reason: you might find it difficult to bring a compelling value proposition to so many different stakeholders.
You can use your first discovery calls to do in-depth research on your target organization and understand its critical business issues.
You can ask the following questions:
- What is the frustration you face in your existing work processes?
- How do you solve this problem manually?
- Do you have any tools that you currently use to address this?
- What limitations have you encountered with these existing or past tools?
With these elements in hand, you can then customize your presentation deck and your product demonstration. In particular, you want to highlight the features that are most in line with the issues mentioned by your customer.
This will make your sales approach all the more effective.
#4 Make your delivery team meet with the customer
A sale is even more complex when it involves players from different departments and expertise. This is especially true when you sell solutions that require the intervention of technical or regulatory experts.
The word of your reps in these cases won’t be enough. You want to reassure your customers with specialists who know the product or service inside and out.
As a way to prevent functional and technical objections, you can plan beforehand a meeting between your teams and your customers. During this meeting, your experts can reassure them about legal risks, inform them about the setting up, demonstrate the product, or provide costed studies.
#5 Nurture with customized sales content
In a complex sale, you may have a hard time staying in touch with potential opportunities. Send too many follow-ups, and you might turn off your prospect; leave the prospect alone, and you might lose a potential deal.
In these cases, lead nurturing becomes very important. You might regularly feed your prospects with relevant content and sales materials. This is a good way to keep in touch with your prospects while providing them with value. The following type of content can help :
- Educational articles and videos to evangelize on the issue.
- Product presentations, technical documents to compare and inform.
- Commercial proposal with supporting costing and relevant studies.
- Use cases similar to your target company.
#6 Plan individual and group coaching
As a sales manager, it is in your hands to devise a sales strategy aiming at enterprise accounts You can use regular individual and group meetings to perfect the approach and prioritize actions:
- Monthly sales-marketing alignments to discuss pitch, wording and sales materials.
- Weekly team meetings to discuss account allocation and hot topics that come up with your target companies.
- Weekly one-on-one meetings to analyze your salespeople's approaches and share best practices and wording to prioritize.
Noota: Never forget a thing facing a complex sale
Do you sometimes forget to ask a question or mention important information during key meetings? Noota is the meeting assistant you've always dreamed of.
With it, you can optimize your complex sales process based on voice data. It helps you:
- Remember questions and answers to give with a real-time assistant.
- Coach you or your team on the best sales practices through a KPI dashboard (feeling, sharing the word, language elements...).
- Report and share your data with an automatic note-taker and meeting minutes generator.
Want to streamline your complex selling process? Try Noota for free.