The role of marketing in a complex sales process

One of the defining characteristics of our clients is the inherently complex nature of their sales process. Often, it takes time (lots of time) to close a sale. They must convince multiple decision makers and influencers, each with their own opinions and motivations. The product or service itself can be complex and hard to explain. And expensive.

No wonder our clients’ clients require a lot of help when making a buying decision.

In that kind of environment, traditional advertising plays a limited role. More importantly, you have to understand the various stages a prospect must work through when making a decision, and then provide the right information and sales behaviors at each stage.

So what are the elements of a complex sales cycle?


Products or Services

Often, buyers don’t understand the products or services they are buying. (Can you really know what part of your car’s engine is broken and have they really fixed it?) This is especially true in the world of professional services. “That’s why I hired you…”


Patience Is a Virtue

For many of our clients, it’s completely routine to work for 18 months to 2 years to close a new customer. Consider how hard it is for a company to change its commercial bank. Or for a high school student to pick a college or university.


Decision makers

For our clients, selling a new client requires convincing a complex mix of decision makers, influencers and grumpy bastards who just like to say ‘no.’

Uncertainty: Add to that the uncertainty inherent in the system, as it’s often hard to know who the decision makers are. Is someone you don’t know capable of subverting you?

Competing Motivations: It happens that within the prospect’s organization, there can be multiple people, each with her own reasons for choosing or not choosing your company.

Perceived Risk: Is your prospect’s job on the line with their decision? Be prepared to do a lot of hand-holding. Your existing clients can be a big help here.

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