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The Difference in Transactional and Complex Sales

Transactional sales tend to have a lower price point, lower complexity, lower risk, and fewer stakeholders who will be affected by a decision to make a purchase.

  • Low Investment: When the price point low it’s easy to make a decision because the amount of money being spent is relatively insignificant. The keyword is relative. It’s not a lot of money compared to larger, more strategic investments.
  • Complexity: Transactional sales tend to be less complex. There doesn’t tend to be a lot of implementation necessary, and it’s fairly easy to execute on whatever it is you’re buying. They’re also aren’t a lot of things to consider or a lot of trade-offs. Transactional sales tend to be simple and straightforward.
  • Risk: When you buy things that are transactional, there are not a lot of risks. There are not a lot of things that can go wrong. And because there are not a lot of risks, the decisions to make a transactional purchase are relatively easy decisions to make.
  • Stakeholders: And in most transactional sales, there are a few stakeholders. If you’re selling something like insurance, home improvement, or other things of that nature, there may be two stakeholders, like a husband and a wife. It isn’t as difficult to gain consensus when there are only a few stakeholders.

Complex sales are different. That means your approach needs to be different. The sales tend to have a higher price point, greater complexity, much greater risk, and many more stakeholders.

  • High Investment: As the amount being spent increases, the approach has to be more consultative than a transactional sale. More money is being spent, and this means greater outcomes are being pursued, and there is greater accountability for those outcomes.
  • Complexity: Complex sales also come with greater complexity. There are more root cause problems that have to be sorted out. There are many different solutions that may resolve those problems or challenges successfully. There are many more trade-offs to be made in the complex sale.
  • Risk: There is also greater risk. And in a complex sale, making the wrong decision can put greater outcomes at risk, and can upset a decision maker’s overall strategy and approach. It can cost more time, more money, and more lost opportunities.
  • Stakeholders: And almost invariably, as a complex sale comes with the greater investment, greater complications, and greater risk, more stakeholders will be impacted by the company’s decision to change. And more complexity translates to a very different buying process, a very different sales process, and a very different set of commitments that are necessary to move the prospect from target to close.

As you think about your customers and your processes, especially the closing line you would use, it’s necessary to look at what type of sale you are making. On the continuum from transactional to complex, where do your customers lie?

The more transactional the purchase, the more transactional behaviors are appropriate. The more complex the purchase, the more your processes need to serve that complexity.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0, Transactional, Value

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