Thinking About Strategy – An Open Interview with Debbie White

This is the third in a series of articles based upon an extended discussion between me and a friend who earns his living as a writer. Don is smart enough to realize when he needs help – and, boy, does he need help developing his sales process. So, he asked my advice.

I wish I could say I ALWAYS do the same, but I don’t (and Don confesses he doesn’t either). There are times when I know I could use some help, but (for whatever reason) I suffer through my mistakes a while … until I am ready to change and willing to invest whatever it takes to spur my growth.

And, sometimes, its not the money that prevents me from getting into action – but time. Life is sooooo busy these days. Do you feel that way too?

von Goethe quote

If you don’t try, you can’t win.

Last week, we talked about how sales are primary to a successful business. No matter how many referrals you get, how much website traffic you have, how large your email list is … if you aren’t converting those leads into presentations and then into sales, your business is in trouble. It really is that simple.

This week, let’s look at a crucial concept: Strategy.

Now, don’t scrunch up your forehead, I know it sounds a whole lot like serious thinking … but planning is something you already do every day.

You have a problem, you formulate a solution to the problem (Strategy), then you determine how to carry out the solution (Tactics).

Tactics are obvious to everyone; they are what you say and do. Strategy is not so obvious; it is a thought process. Both are essential to success.

The following discussion outlines why Strategy is important and how you can begin using it to help move your own business forward.

Success is just … sales.

Don: Debbie, what is the first ingredient required to run a profitable business?

Debbie: A winning sales strategy is the first essential in business, but few individuals or companies have one.

Don: Terminology can be confusing, Debbie. What do you mean by “Sales Strategy”?

Debbie: It’s not complicated. It is first a determination of your goals for sales growth. Then, the goals are driven by a well-defined, high-level plan of action on how to go about achieving those goals. Strategy describes WHAT you will do to accomplish your desire. Tactics utilize your means (resources) to carry out the

Strategy. Strategy is the head. Tactics are the feet.

Don: I know the things I want to accomplish. Can’t I just move towards them and not over-analyze the situation?

Debbie: Your Sales Strategy is vital to your success because the resources available to achieve your goals have boundaries. Even the largest corporation has limitations on resources. When you reach the end of your resources, you are on unsteady ground. Strategy makes sure your means are sufficient and properly orchestrated to achieve your end.

Don: Debbie, I sense the importance of this, because I can see how important it is to you. Why are you so passionate about this topic?

Debbie: Unlike the Fortune 500 Company I worked for, I find that the majority of small businesses and entrepreneurs operate backwards when they go after their goals. It is the single most costly mistake they make. Instead of beginning with a well-defined plan of action (STRATEGY), it is tempting to implement tactics – then try to operate and build the business around those tactics.

Don’t make a sales call just to make a sales call. First know what you hope to accomplish before you decide how to go about doing it.

Don: Please tell us more about Tactics.

Debbie: The dictionary definition of Tactic is “A method or technique for accomplishing an end.” You tweet, you blog, you run a special of the day, you host a webinar, you post a video, you go on a sales call, you attend a networking event to meet with potential clients. These are examples of Tactics. It is important to differentiate them from your Strategy. Otherwise, you can be saying or doing the right thing – but at the wrong time.

The late Chet Holmes was a foremost authority on business growth. He said, “A strategist will CRUSH the tactician every time … yet 99.9% of all business owners or executives are TACTICIANS.”

Think about that. If you have a Sales Strategy behind your business, that alone puts you ahead of most competitors. Moreover, many businesses attempt to see their Sales Strategy as a support for the Marketing Strategy.

That is backwards: Every marketing tactic should simply be a tactic WITHIN your sales strategy.

Everyone reading or listening to this should stop, right now, to ask themselves this question: Exactly what is my Sales Strategy? Do I really have one, or am I only running through Tactic after Tactic, hoping to find the right combination to boost my sales?

Next week: A real-life example of someone who GOT IT and what Debbie White does to frame her own Sales Strategy.

Questions? Ask them RIGHT HERE.

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