Many people don’t understand the distinctions between strategy, process and tactics.
A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business. A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out. Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy. Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.
A sales process is repeatable plan. It outlines milestones involved in bringing on new clients, moving the prospects from “Stranger” to “Raving Fan”, for example. It defines what is needed along the way to move from one point to the next. A sales process will also help you determine how likely you are to close a particular deal. It is in some regards, independent of the people who implement it. Obviously people are involved in the process but if it is laid out well, it mitigates the reliance on a Rock Star salesperson. A primary principle of Whale Hunting: Land Big Deals, Transform Your Company states, “Success is 90% process and 10% magic”. Once proven, people can be taught to implement the sales process.
The steps in a sample sales process might be as follows:
- 1st meeting
- 2nd meeting
Sales tactics, on the other hand are day-to-day activities individual team members execute in service of the strategy that has been laid out. Tactics outline what will be done. They are measurable and can be assigned to specific individuals. They are observable and trackable. A tactical plan (made up of a series of tactics) may cover a time frame of six to 18 months.
Let’s say a company decides to implement pursuing large firms as a strategy to achieve aggressive revenue growth targets. The company will likely have already set specific revenue targets and due dates. Here are some sample tactics for the various roles in the firm
- CEO: Schedule an in-house workshop to introduce Whale Hunting to the entire company
- Sales Specialist/Assistant: Spend an hour a day researching and compiling dossiers on selected Whales
- Sales Manager: Recommend three whales to approach to CEO
- Salesperson: Contact a key decision maker at the prospective whale to schedule an initial meeting within 5 days of receiving a completed dossier
- Subject Matter Expert: Make a list of Good-to-Great questions for an upcoming meeting with a prospective whale
Defining and communicating a strategy throughout an organization helps align the staff and focus its attention on what’s important. Tactics help people find their place in and get engaged with the strategy. Tactics give staff personal accountability, ‘skin in the game’, that can be measured and rewarded.