What Are Complex Sales?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Sometimes known as enterprise sales, complex sales are situations in which the customers drives the process of inviting, qualifying and ultimately choosing vendors to provide goods and services for an extended period of time. Rather than a sales transaction that involves a one-time purchase, a complex approach will often involve the seller establishing a customized rate and delivery structure in hopes of securing the business of the potential customer, while also locking in a covenant from that customer to provide a volume of business that is attractive enough to merit extending the special rates and terms. Many customer/vendor relationships that are governed by volume purchase and other types of highly detailed agreements are the result of a complex sales effort.


One of the easiest ways to understand how complex sales function is to consider a company that is seeking a vendor for its audio and web conferencing needs. Rather than simply going with the standard rates offered by conference providers, the company will seek to minimize costs by inviting selected providers to submit a proposal that details which services the providers offer and the rates and conditions that will apply if the company agrees to generate a specified minimum of business volume per year. Each of the selected providers is issued what is known as a request for proposal (RFP). Typically, the RFP will provide an outline that can be used to create the proposal, since the document will include specific questions that each vendor must answer in order to be considered.

As part of the review process for complex sales, the company may also ask for additional support from each of the vendors, such as free test conferences or even a site visit to the company by the sales personnel associated with each vendor under consideration. After reviewing the submitted requests for proposal, interacting with sales personnel and considering pricing, volume commitment and other relevant factors, the company can then award the contract to the vendor with the most attractive proposal.

Complex sales differ from other sales efforts in that the amount of time it takes to move the potential client through the sales cycle is much longer and will require addition efforts on the part of the sales team. Unlike other approaches in which salespeople may be able to hasten a decision from a contact, complex sales often involve protracted interaction with several decision makers within the company structure and basically moving forward at a pace that is established by the customer. While somewhat more involved than simple one-off sales or even signing up a client using a standard contract, complex sales can established long-term sources of income that are very helpful as the vendor plans budgets for upcoming years.



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