Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Are You Strategic or Are You Tactical?

Strategic planning and thinking are critical to success in business -- and in sales. Strategic thought focuses on the big picture. It looks at building sustainable, long-term relationships with clients who can benefit from what you have to provide. Tactical thinking, however, focuses on the here and now. It cares only for making the quick sale and staying afloat. Without a strategy behind it, tactical thinking can often lead to reactionary planning that provides little or no long-term viability.

If you find yourself in any of these positions, you may be too tactical:
  • Prospects are taking too long to make a decision and stringing you along to get lower pricing.

  • You're unclear on exactly who you are selling to.

  • Your sales efforts are not focused on a specific product or service you should be selling.

  • You're selling almost exclusively to the type of customers who buy one-time projects.

  • You're selling to the type of customers who will switch to lower-priced competitors at the drop of a hat (or price).
Being overly tactical can force you to become desperate for work. That desperation shows through to prospects, who are either scared off by it or use it to force a much lower-price sale.

Being overly tactical forces you to be reactive to the marketplace around you, rather than proactive in growing sales. This can also lead to taking on clients at unsustainable prices -- often clients you really should have declined in the first place.

Most owners and executives who find themselves in this position will try:
  • Hiring a new salesperson who knows what they are doing

  • Creating an incredible new offer or service package

  • Offering a brand new capability

  • Lowering prices to increase volume
While these tactics can work, they often won't unless you first learn to start selling strategically in your business.

Strategic selling means creating a sales process that is based on:
  • Positioning your company as the expert for what you sell

  • Creating real relationships with prospects who truly value what you offer

  • Attracting prospects who can afford to pay for what you sell

  • Working with prospects and customers on their business goals and challenges, so you're not seen as a commodity vendor
This is what it means to change from a tactical business to a strategic business.

Broke companies look for the cheapest, while successful companies are looking for value and strategic partners. Being tactical means having commodity conversations about commodity services and products. This leads to attracting customers who view you as a commodity and end up paying you commodity prices. On the other hand, having strategic conversations with strategically minded businesses means that you attract higher-quality clients who value and pay for the services they seek.

As a strategic business, you'll begin to have conversations with prospects who truly value what you bring to the table. You'll talk about not just the tactical things but also how your services can help them grow. This type of client doesn't leave quickly and will gladly pay you for the work you do. This in turn will lead to a much higher client value and will allow you to provide better service to attract more clients just like them.

So how do you move to having strategic conversations? Start by asking the type of questions that generate the answers you're looking for.
  • What are your biggest challenges?

  • Is your business growing as fast as you'd like?

  • What's working for you?

  • What's not working for you?

  • What are your biggest challenges?

  • What are you currently doing to market and grow your business?
The beauty is in the simplicity. No magic needed. Ask questions that are designed to let your prospects open up and share their challenges.

Moving from a tactical business to a strategic one starts with a mindset shift. It takes time and effort to change the culture of a tactical business. It starts with being clear that you need to seek clients who value and can pay for what you sell. Then you must have strategic conversations to prove the worth of what you bring to the table. Having strategic conversations separates you from your competition. Being strategic is one way to command and get higher prices.

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