Complex Sale Framework

Sales Strategies for Consulting Businesses

What happens if your key contact in business leaves midway through the sales process? How do you get more than one key contact so if this happens you are able to rescue the sale?

During this solo show, Paul takes you through the complex sale framework he created to collect all the information needed to complete the sale successfully.


Hello to the Accelerate Sales Podcast, episode number 326. If it's your first time, welcome. And if you love what you hear, please subscribe. If you are a regular, thanks for your support. I really appreciate a review. That would mean the world to me. So you can just go to iTunes and do that. That would be absolutely fantastic. Please check out past shows on your favourite platform. Just search Accelerate Sales and there's a lot of great interviews shows as well as these short solo shows. So get to that.


Today's topic is the complex sale framework, and you'll learn two key things. One is what is a complex sale framework, and most importantly, how can you use it to get more referral partners? So that's how I show you a practical example of using it. And a big shout out to Brynne Tillman for requesting this topic today. She asked what happens if your key contact in business leaves midway through the sales process and you've probably had that happen and it doesn't always go well.


By using this complex sales framework, we're going to help you have more than one key contact and be able to rescue the sale. There's a related podcast episode, it's number 272. And that's about what questions are asked when selecting a referral partner. So it goes in a little bit more detail.


So what do I mean by a complex sale? You might be thinking, well, aren't all sales complex. Look, in most cases, the answer is yes, but there are some that are more complex than others. Typically the Drake degree of complexities related to the number of people who are involved in the decision. Sounds pretty obvious. We use the process at Coca Cola and it's called the complex sale process. If you remember from your corporate days, you might've heard of a blue sheet before, but that was created by Miller Heiman and it's H E I M A N. What I've done is created my version of this, which is a lot more simplified format that I use with all of the consultants that I'm mentoring with. And it's really a great way to collect the information to complete the sale successfully. And as Brynne mentioned, a way of not risking it by having all your eggs in the one basket. The link is in the show notes. And if you're a visual learner, you can pause now and go and grab that. So you can actually see the format. This is audio only, it's not video.


The scenario we'll use is selling to a referral partner. In this case it's a past client example where they sold to a private equity company. And what they did was they had their ideal clients. So the private equity firm had their ideal comments, my customer, and their portfolio. It was really a three-way win. So the portfolio company won by leveraging the software, because it was a software product, to make better decisions, and in particular a bit of fact-based decisions. The private equity company wins by having better visibility to help the portfolio companies. And also my client won because they fast-track the sales process, so I better sell to 40 companies at once rather than one by one. I'll go through this and if you've got it in front of you, that would be great. You can always pause and you can go to the show notes to get it.


Section one is fact finding. Pretty simple this one, who's the internal sales owner. It's really important, not me, to you as the business owner. When was it created and what are your key objectives? Some people say, I don't know what time periods. So what I normally just do is, well, what's the revenue you could generate in this scenario. Think of the income that you only generate from the private equity firms, their portfolio companies. And you might set it at 12 months, and it might be broken down further by the setup fee, the licences, and also the ongoing support to take that revenue. So that's section one.


Section two is the ideal expert. This is where you put yourself in the shoes of the company. In this case, the private equity company that you're selling to. You would think about what are the key things they're looking for in an expert or a consultant to work with, and then how would they be rated or help more importantly. Would you be rated against it? Think of a simple scale of one to four and four has been the highest. What's an example of that? It might be that you've worked with these clients before, it might be one of the key criteria that they have when they're assessing a partner. It's not looking at your strength, it's looking at what they would do if they had not just you, but other companies as well. So that's section two.


Section three is the buying influencers. This is where you list all of the people who are involved in the complex sale. And it's normally a lot deeper than what you think. We typically, as a rule, forget key people that influence it. There's four key roles. There's a coach, a technical buyer, a user, and an economic buyer. I'm just using the terminology to make it simple from Miller Heiman there. What does each role play? A coach helps you in the sales process, they really are the internal person. Who's an example? In this case, it was the head of operations or the head of revenue. They want to make more revenue for the overall private equity firm and they also want to help their portfolio companies to get more revenue, right? They really want the software to help with that, so they're willing to give you some information from the inside to coach you through the sale, because they've got the internal sale to sell to their MD or whoever the decision maker is to get it done. So they're going to help you. The more that you make them as if you're both working together in the same direction, the better.


Next is a technical buyer. This is someone that's not using the service internally, but really wants to assess it. That's normal, like a CFO or chief financial officer or someone like that. Next is the user. This is someone who would benefit directly from it. So yes, the financial objectives, the head of revenue, but it might be a business analyst that actually does the number crunching. So they're interested in how it works, what the features are, et cetera. So there are a lot more details. And then you've finally got the economic buyer. That's the person that makes the end decision and there can only ever be one economic buyer. That's normally said by the managing director of the private equity firm. And some people say, well, what happens if it's the board that's making the decision? If it's going to that level, normally it doesn't, but if it is, it's normally like the chair of the board, it's one person that might sit on the committee that makes these decisions in a sub committee, as an example.


All right. Continuing in section three. So you've found out what the roles are and you've also defined key information. Now, what you want to do is decide on their business results and personal wins. You've always heard win-win, this is how you set it up. For example, a business win for the managing director, who's the economic buyer, might be to have a higher exit for the portfolio companies, right? That's what he may be judged on. He or she, I should say. On a personal note though, it might be that he really wants to get a couple of big deals because he's looking to retire and bring someone else in. So this is going to help with that timing. And most of that personal information, you only really get from the coach. And there's a real art form in that. So that's section one, two and three.


Section four is your strengths. This relates to your position in the sales. So a lot of people talk about strengths as my brand, or something that you think you bring to the table, but most importantly, it's about what information you've already collected and how strong is it? So you might know exactly what the economic buyers, business wins and personal wins are, so that would write highly as a strength of yours.

All right, before I can continue, I'd like to talk about I recently changed the names from Build Live Give to Paul Higgins Mentoring and it was a nightmare. But what really hurt was when I was doing sales, I had to manually input people's LinkedIn profiles from LinkedIn into my sales CRM. And I also had to go through when I was sending them messages and manually sync them. And the great thing is Leadjet does both of those things. So you can use it on your LinkedIn profile and you can see all the information in your sales CRM. And it supports major sales CRM, as far as Coppers CRM, Pipedrive, HubSpot, Salesforce, et cetera. But why not check it out for yourself. Go to


Section five is gaps. These are gaps in the information to close the sale. As an example, I do not know the economic buyer's personal win, right? I guess it might be because he wants to retire, or she, but I don't know that. So what you would do is use your coach to get that information. The other gap might be that you want to run webinars to the marketing or webinars to the companies, but you don't even know who's in marketing. You don't know what the structure looks like, et cetera, that'd be a gap. So then what you do is once you've done all of those five sections, then you look at the possible actions. So you just list them all down, it doesn't matter what they are, and then you pick your top five to go and implement. You can get the complex sale framework at And obviously the links will be in the show notes. If you'd like me to review a complex sale for you or give you more information, just send me an email at [email protected]


Three key actions I want you to take today. One is to get your copy at Two, start working on an example, and three, email me to get some help. You can get all the links at the show notes at, episode number 326, or the app you're listening to. Now, I recommend the PocketCasts app. Please follow me on LinkedIn. I put a lot of great content, including the episodes of podcasts by solo and also interviews. And if you know someone interested in gaining referral partners and this process could really help them, please share it with them. They'll love you for it. And you will become their sales hero. Please take action to accelerate sales.




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