Navigating the Sales Cycle Easier: Simple Sales vs. Complex Sales

Sales involve three basic components – a buyer, a seller, and a product being sold. The seller offers a product to the market. A buyer decides that he needs the product. Both parties agree on a selling price, and the sale is made.

It sounds simple enough. However, there are numerous layers in the sales process. Many events affect whether a sale is completed or not. In business, there are two kinds of sales – simple sales and complex sales.

What is Simple Selling?

A simple sale is as it sounds. These are sales that have a short sales cycle and involve products that are quick to purchase. It is the everyday items like laundry detergent and food.

These types of simple sales are easy to decide on and involve one or two decision-makers. They also include items with a lower barrier to purchase.

What is Complex Selling?

A complex sale is at the other end of the sales spectrum. These types of sales have a long sales cycle, involve multiple stakeholders, and include products that cost a lot of money. They are typically considered high-risk and will have a significant impact on an organization.

Complex sales are B2B, including corporate or enterprise sales. Complex selling can take months or even years to complete. Closing a deal depends on the type of products or services being sold and the number of decision-makers involved.

Examples of Complex Sales

Some examples of products that belong to complex sales:

  • Machinery for a manufacturing company
  • Electrical circuit boards for an original equipment manufacturer
  • Customized technical software,
  • Cloud-based solutions

Most transactions that technical sales engineers will work on are complex sales.

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Stages of the Complex Sales Process

A complex sale has four stages: Discovery, Qualification and Diagnosis, Proposal, and Closing. As a technical sales engineer working in a complex sale cycle, keep these essential stages in mind with any product or service you are selling.


The first stage is discovery. At this point, you need to learn everything you can about your target client. Meetings and consultations with potential customers are required to understand their needs. You must know how your product can help them.

Additionally, a technical sales engineer will need to discover the people who are involved in the process. Be sure to identify the key decision-makers as well as the various gatekeepers within the business.

Research is key. At the same time, keep yourself informed of industry news, relevant technological advances, and competitor offerings.


At this point in the buying process, you will use all the information you have gathered during the discovery stage to determine and diagnose your potential customer’s issues and problems.

Your goal is to provide a solution. Solve your potential customer’s problem and offer value to their organization. As a technical sales engineer, you begin working on technical presentations and proposals, making sure they offer the answers that the customer is looking for.

At the same time, you will work closely with sales reps to ensure that you work as one team to complete the sale.


During this stage, you submit or present your proposals to your target customer. This stage may have several levels as well. For example, you may have to pitch first to a product manager, then to a department head.

From there, you will then present to a C-level executive who is the final decision maker in this transaction. Technical sales engineers need to ensure that the proposals submitted are solving the pain points of the client.


After building trust and nurturing relationships with the various decision-makers, the deal will be closed. It can take months or years to get from the discovery stage to closing. But all that hard work will have paid off when the sale is made.

Depending on the details of the sale, a technical sales engineer may also stay on as a consultant or resource person after the sale is completed. Maintaining this relationship is important and will also be essential for future deals with the same organization.

What Skills Do You Need For Complex Sales?

Unlike salespeople who work on simple sales, a technical sales engineer needs more specific skills to close a complex sale successfully.

A technical sales engineer must be team-oriented and have effective communication skills. Remember that you’ll be working with more than one person on this sale. You will have to build relationships and communicate with various people, most likely in different positions throughout the company.

For example, you may have to present your proposal to the Chief Procurement Officer and work closely with his assistant to make sure that you get that important meeting. Building these different relationships is essential in closing the sale.

Working well with a team is also vital. Often, a complex sale involves a sales team, a product manager, a technical sales engineer, and more working effectively together.

How to Be the Top Sales Performer

Depending on the complexity of the products and services you are selling, closing a deal can take months or even years. A technical sales engineer must also have the ability to be patient.

In the end, the best-performing salespeople know how to identify the needs of their prospects, develop relationships, provide solutions, and close deals.

With over 15 years of experience, we don’t just teach “theory.” We provide actionable lessons so you can see results tomorrow by providing you with all of the tools you need to not only significantly increase your personal income but become a top performer at any company. If you are ready to take your technical sales career to the next level or are eager to make a career change, then click here to take the next step towards success with Technical Sales University.