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Mastering the Complex Sale

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Mastering the Complex Sale

How to Compete and Win When The Stakes are High!


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Very complex sales don’t require a flashy personality or a big presentation — a tough, customer-focused method will do.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


This excellent guide explains a methodology that can help anyone in sales. This sales approach depends essentially on seeing the sale through the customer’s eyes, and involving the customer in designing a solution to his or her own problems. This approach goes against some standard practices in sales, but those standard practices antagonize customers and build distrust. Author Jeff Thull offers helpful reminders on the value of researching individual customers, picking the right entry point to an organization and other best practices. However, he sometimes seems over-enthusiastic and over-optimistic about his system’s infallibility. After all, in some organizations, sales people who tried to follow this methodology would be criticized for failing to meet more conventional targets, such as number of calls per week. This detailed method for conquering many-level, multi-step sales is time and research-intensive, but highly effective. applauds his emphasis on the value of asking and listening instead of speaking. Highly recommended.


Selling: The Eras

Within the past 50 to 60 years, selling has passed through three eras:

  • The script era - During the 1950s, the salesperson worked on techniques to manipulate the customer into doing what the salesperson wanted done. Sales training focused on making the case, parrying the objections and going for the close. Except in telemarketing and used cars sales, this approach to selling is virtually extinct.
  • The problem solver era - In the 1970s, sales training materials began to emphasize listening, building confidence and developing a relationship. Instead of a manipulative persuader, the salesperson became a problem solver. This approach to selling survived and laid the foundation of much of contemporary selling strategy. But it was only a beginning. Because many sales people now practice it, it isn’t a differentiating approach in itself. Moreover, its emphasis on asking questions and listening for answers implicitly assumes that customers really know what they need. That isn’t always true. Many problems are so complex that customers don’t understand them.
  • The consultant era - In this era, our contemporary era, the salesperson brings the...

About the Author

Jeff Thull is President, CEO and founder of Prime Resource Group, a consulting firm whose clients include 3M, Microsoft, Siemens, IBM, Citicorp, Georgia-Pacific and Centerpulse.

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