Positioning The Complex Sale

The complex sale doesn’t have to be frustrating. Good strategies make selling easier.

If you sell something simple buyers don’t need much education. We have a built-in shorthand to understand the offer. Furniture, cars and dental exams fall into this category. You know what these products and services are. The decision of whether to buy luxury or cheap may become a consuming next step in your buying process for such commodities. However, the category is clear in your mind.

If you sell the complex then a shorthand sentence doesn’t cut it. Letting someone know that you sell high performance computing or marketing automation services opens up a dialogue. These aren’t everyday purchases. They are sophisticated and have large degrees of complexity associated with the value offering. It’s not necessarily something a customer will order from a shopping cart.

The complex sale requires an approach that helps build trust and develop clarity. Here are three things to integrate into your marketing and sales process that helps to position the complex sale:

  1. Frame the problem. Before you talk about how great your product or service works, tell stories about the problem that your customers face. Allow the stories to highlight details that get specific. A six-sigma manufacturing software product might talk about the difficulty in properly auditing an assembly line because of quantity and throughput. Your story starts with a problem. The customer may not be able to even articulate their problem clearly. This is where your marketing needs to begin.
  2. Position within a category. A complex sale typically does not have an easy category to place the product or service offering. Create and promote the category. This places you in a position of leadership. This avoids being compared, which is a strong, driving impulse of buyers, understandably so. They relate to new things by comparing to what is known. Comparisons are fine. Commoditization can distort your position in the mind of the buyer.
  3. Commit to an education strategy. I like Syms’ tag line for their once thriving stores, “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Educated customers are vested. They have been learning and are versed in your industry and offering. It creates a dialogue. This is more collaborative and avoids the urge to sell. Buyers sell themselves in the process. Align your sales process and marketing systems to education. It is vital for the complex to make sense for the buyer.

The complex sale takes longer because it is unique in nature and needs to be understood by the buyer. This can be an advantage in the new economy where commodities easily get lost in the noise. You can break through if your marketing strategies work to position your value proposition via a systematic process.

What can these strategies do for your business?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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