Complex sales: what is it? [+Examples]

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

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When selling to large enterprises or big companies, it might take months or even years for you to close a deal. The sales process is much more complicated than traditional sales. That’s why it’s called complex sales.

In this article, let’s learn about complex sales in detail.

What is Complex Sales?

Complex sales is a type of selling that requires a deal to be structured in a complex way. It typically involves multiple stakeholders, each with their own goals and interests. Target leads are large B2B companies, often those with well-established processes and high levels of bureaucracy.

Complex sales also occurs in consumer-focused settings, especially when it comes to buying big-ticket items like cars or homes. Consumers tend to make decisions based on more than just price and features—they don’t want just a vehicle or place to live; they want an experience that will make them feel good about themselves. They want a car to make them feel powerful or a house to reflect who they are as people.

That’s why complex sales is so important for automobile dealerships and real estate agents alike. It shows you how to tailor your pitch for each buyer so that you can give them what they want most out of their purchase. You’re not selling vehicles or houses—you’re selling experiences.

3 Key Elements Of Complex Sales

When you sell complex products, you can expect to encounter more decision-makers, a longer sales lifecycle, and higher perceived risks than when selling simpler products.

More Decision Makers

The number of people involved in the buying process for a complex product is typically greater than for simpler products. You’ll need to engage with various stakeholders throughout the sales cycle.

Longer Sales Lifecycle

Complex sales takes longer to close because there are more steps involved in the purchasing process. When you sell to one person, it may only take a few weeks for them to make a decision about your product or service; but when you’re selling to multiple people within an organization, it can actually take months before they decide whether they want what you’re offering them.

Higher Perceived Risks

Complex sales are often driven by customers’ desire to mitigate their risk. This is especially true in situations where the customer isn’t experienced with the product or service they’re buying, but it can also apply to any situation where the buyer wants assurance that they’ll be able to get what they paid for.

If you’re selling a complex product or service, you must ensure your sales process and documentation are clear, easy to understand, and complete. You should also be ready to provide more information if customers have questions or concerns about any part of your offering.

Complex Sales Cycle Explanation

A traditional sales cycle often includes four stages: discovery, qualification, proposal, and closing. The complex sales cycle is similar, but it involves a longer period between when you reach out to a lead and when they sign on the dotted line.

The following section will explain these four stages in detail.

Complex Sales Cycle Stages

As said above, the complex sales cycle is a four-stage process that can take a long time to complete.

1. Discovery

In the discovery stage, you need to learn about what your customers need. You can do this by looking at their website or social media accounts. This is also the stage where you should find out what your competitors are offering them.

2. Qualification

After you’ve learned about your prospect’s needs and goals in the discovery phase, it’s time to qualify them. Are they ready for your products or services? Do they have the budget for them? Do they have the authority to decide about buying your product or service?

3. Proposal

In this stage, you estimate the time, resources, and cost needed to complete the project based on the information gathered during the discovery and qualification stages.

You present this estimate and one or more solutions that meet your client’s goals in a proposal document. This proposal also includes any risks involved and what contingencies are available in case something goes wrong or takes longer than expected.

4. Closing

Closing deals is one of the most exciting parts of a complex sales cycle. It’s when you get to check off all your to-do boxes and send a final contract.

Don’t forget about maintaining contact after closing deals. When you’re closing deals, your customer will be excited and full of energy—but once they’ve gotten what they want from their purchase, that excitement can fade quickly. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain contact after closing deals: so that customers can stay engaged with your service and continue feeling good about buying from you.

Complex Sales Process Example

There are a lot of complex sales examples out there. Some involve complicated contracts, and others involve the sale of a business.

Here is an example: a company wants to buy advertising space on a billboard to advertise their product. They call up several companies who own these spaces and negotiate with them about how much they will pay for the space (this includes negotiating on location and size). This is a complex sale because it involves different factors that need to be considered.

Another example is software as a service (SaaS). This type of service is sold on an ongoing basis rather than a one-time basis, like traditional software purchases. This means there will be multiple payments over time instead of just one lump sum at purchase time.

Win Complex Sales with Revenue Grid Software

Revenue Grid is a powerful sales management platform that helps you manage complex sales processes and streamline your sales team’s efforts. It helps you:

  • Manage complex sales processes in one place, so you can see the big picture and ensure all your team members are on board with it.
  • Optimize your sales team’s efforts by assigning them tasks based on their strengths, allowing them to focus on the things they do best. Then, track their progress and make sure they’re hitting their goals.
  • Eliminate manual data entry using automated workflows to complete lead generation activities like sending emails and scheduling meetings.
  • Quickly identify new opportunities and prioritize them based on their potential impact and business value.
  • Use analytics to identify which products/services are most profitable for your business, so you can focus on selling those items or services while scaling back others that aren’t as profitable.

With Revenue Grid, you’ll find yourself handling complex sales easily because it allows you to create a personal connection with every buyer and make them feel like they matter — even when they’re not ready to buy yet.

Complex Sales FAQs

1. How Do You Define a Complex Sale?

A complex sale is one where there are multiple people involved in the buying decision, the buyer has a lot of questions, or the deal is long-term and involves many moving parts.

Complex sales can be difficult because they require extra time to research, more time spent communicating with your client and their team, and more time spent engaging in negotiations. However, complex sales can offer a lot of room for creativity and flexibility in terms of your approach to the deal.

2. How to Choose the Right Tool for Complex Selling?

The key to choosing the right tool is to determine what you need. Is your team primarily focused on customer relationship management, or is there a need for more complex features? Whichever tool you choose, it’s important that everyone in your team uses it consistently so that all of your data is consistent and accurate.

3. Which Tools Help With Complex Sales?

With Revenue Grid, you can win complex sales with confidence.

Revenue Grid is explicitly designed for complex sales, and it’s used by large enterprises like  VDA and Vapotherm. It helps your team manage all the moving pieces of a sale—from marketing to lead management, sales pipeline management, and more—so that you can get back to what really matters: closing deals.

Ready to win complex sales with Revenue Grid?

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    Core UX Writer at

    Lavender Nguyen is a Freelance Content Writer focusing on writing well-researched, data-driven content for B2B commerce, retail, marketing, and SaaS companies. Also known as an Email Marketing Specialist, she helps ecommerce B2C brands develop high-converting, customer-focused email strategies.