What’s the difference between selling tactics and strategic know-how? Like night and day, they overlap but are quite different. Here’s a simple metaphor. To play tennis, you need specific skills or tactics such as hitting overheads, having a good forehand or backhand, and so on. However, once the skills are mastered, the serious tennis players focus on a strategy or set of strategies for each match: playing to an opponent’s weakness (such as a poor backhand), rushing the net for easy put-away shots, avoiding risky shots, and so on. In selling, the same skill/tactic versus strategy differences exist. For example, handling an objection is a tactic, but planning a series of calls over time to identify needs and problems that you or your company can solve is a strategy. Tactical skills are needed to implement the strategy, hence an overlap. Let’s draw some clear-cut distinctions. A tactic is exercised instantly; you simply do it. On-the other hand, a strategy is long term. While you should plan a call, it’s done in seconds or minutes. A strategy that takes weeks, months, or even years to implement requires a more comprehensive plan.
A tactic is something you execute by yourself. A strategy often requires support from other members of the team such as technicians, higher-level managers, and so on. As indicated earlier, a tactic is a single act using your talent, but a strategy requires many “acts” or events including tactics but also utilizes meetings, research, planning, and sales calls. A strategy is a scheme or plan for a long-term series of connected sales calls and related activities designed to give you an advantage in achieving specific sales goals with an account. See
Sales and strategy go hand in hand and if you want to be a good salesman you will need to have strategic planning with innovative thinking in order to succeed. Also, you will have to maintain data so try to do it with modern technique as sales tracking software enables businesses to track down sales and improve business.
An important point to remember about strategies is that there is no limit to the number or type you can use. Something as simple as seeking a small sample or trial order on a series of calls can be considered as a doable strategy. Strategies don’t have to be complex, but they do require creativity and planning. Like any long-term mission or campaign, a plan is required to keep on track and to communicate responsibilities if others are involved. Most important, in a typical strategic sale a number of defined strategies may be combined to generate results.
The rapid changes in today’s marketplace are creating dinosaurs of products, companies, and salespeople who can’t change. As a salesperson or sales manager, you too must change and take a more strategic approach to offset and overcome the blockades created by the dynamic forces in the marketplace. How? Build your strategic abilities and don’t depend on selling skills alone. Start by looking at high-potential accounts in depth, and with future focus, rather than by making piecemeal sales calls alone. Concentrate on a handful of high-potential accounts at a time, and analyze the players, the culture, the competition, how your product fits with their needs, and so on. The opportunities will eventually surface. Then zero in on a few key accounts with the greatest potential and design a long-range strategic penetration plan including realistic goals, strategies for achieving them (be creative), and realistic timetables. Most important, build a passion for executing your strategy, mobilizing help as needed to achieve your goal. Becoming strategic in your thought process is a challenge, but no one ever said selling was easy! I will provide the specifics on proven strategies and how to execute them, but the creativity and passion must be provided by the seller.