Many sales people know the ins and outs of closing a sale, know exactly the time to call, the words to use, the timing to put on pressure or ask for a follow up. It's not easy to learn those aspects of sales, and to master them can be a career's unending task. But there's more to sales than tactics-the best sales agents, the ones that make companies rise instead of just their careers, are those who learn to sell strategically. You may not know the difference just yet, but if you sit back and read on, we'll discuss the difference between selling tactically and selling strategically and what skills you should practice to sell strategically.
Sell Tactically vs. Sell Strategically
If you're not familiar with the distinction between tactics and strategy, it's simple. It's best described as the difference between the 'fine details' and the 'big picture'. To put it another way, battles are won with tactics, wars with strategy. In sales, your battles might be individual sales, or individual points of contact with the client, where your wars would be long-term profits, or closing very big long-term clients. The lines quickly blur when you get into specifics, and what one sales person may need to consider in terms of tactics, another must consider in terms of strategy.
We've already discussed a few aspects of tactics, but what makes for strategy? Long-term approaches. For example, letting a prospect likely to be unsatisfied slip away may mean losing the 'battle', but if you keep customer satisfaction high, returns and service calls low, and word-of-mouth positive, you're doing quite well from a strategic standpoint. The 'big picture' includes quite a lot in sales, and too few sales agents maintain that big picture awareness.
Implementing Sales Strategy
So you want to start selling strategically but you're not sure what that entails. First, you need a broader understanding of your company, product, industry, customers. Breadth of understanding gives you the big picture insight you need to make big picture decisions. Then, you're ready to start making decisions that bring long-term profits and sell strategically. If you don't have the basic knowledge that informs strategic decision making, you can't sell strategically no matter how well you understand the concept in a vacuum.
One of the simplest considerations when you sell strategically is customer satisfaction. Giving up a few sales, or taking your time closing to further reinsure the customer, can lead to better outcomes in the long term by far. If you sell 100 products this month, and half your customers complain to their friends, but a competitor that sold 50 products this month is getting nothing but praise, who do you think will do better next month? Take your time, build relationships with your customers instead of rushing to the finish line and moving on. Sell strategically to customers you can make happy, because they'll bring you more business. Cultivate, follow up, and keep those customers happy.
Another way to sell strategically would be to watch the industry for changes and get ahead of the curve. If demographic shifts or a new technology will be changing the way you sell soon, moving early can position you for massive profits at the expense of losing some of your current potential. This sort of insight makes and breaks entire industries-with those forces at work, there's a lot of opportunity for a single sales person or sales team to make a big profit.
In short, to sell strategically means considering more than just 'making the sale'. You can't just consider your position as a sales person, you have to consider the company, the agency, and most importantly, the customers of today and tomorrow. When you take all these factors into consideration, strategic moves come naturally as a result of your broader knowledge. To sell strategically is about knowing, more than any specific 'doing'.