Being Strategic Everyday

Can Sales People do it?[tweetmeme source=”Marcio_saito” only_single=false]

Being Strategic means considering whether or not our current actions move us towards a desired scenario in the future. It is an important factor in many of our achievements at work and in our personal lives.

But something strange happened when that discipline was applied to commercial organizations. Mission statements (devised in a half-day meeting between executives and a consultant) are posted into every meeting room and we are given a list of personal objectives supposedly aligned with the grand strategy.

We are told of the need to be strategic but because we also need to deliver the next quarterly earnings, most people (including sales and product marketing) must be tactical and focus on immediate results. A smaller, strategic group (typically named “business development”, “innovation department”) is in charge of driving change towards a distant set of strategic goals.

Authors like Harvard’s Robert S. Kaplan anticipated some of the problems of segmentation and proposed the use of communication tools such as Strategy Maps to provide unified visibility and create alignment and Balanced Scorecards as metrics to help to trade-off the tactical financial metrics with more “strategic” non-financial parameters. But implementations of classical strategy often fall in the tactical/strategic segmentation trap, which makes organic growth very difficult to achieve.

The reasons why leaders set on that artificial segmentation has to do with efficiently coping with communication challenges imposed by linear and hierarchical character of classical organizations under the influence of the print medium (See more on that in our “The Click Company” booklet).

In an environment where information flows to people who need it when they need it, and where there is multi-peer, interactive communication and collaboration, it is possible to empower people to loop through the strategic process at the edges of the organization. People who know the parameters for decision can decide. Leaders of a flatter organization, rather than decomposing a great vision, can focus on synthesizing collective goals and projecting alignment.

The adoption of social computing can create a collaborative environment. Why people use social media tools like Facebook, Yelp, Twitter? Because those tools, for the first time, make it easy for ordinary people to post their views and opinions to the web and learn about the views and oppinions of others. The digital medium can create a new strategic dynamic for organizations.

At the personal level, the difference between being strategic or not doesn’t depend on how far you are looking, but on having the information and the tools that prepares you in real-time to make deliberate decisions.

So, what defines “being strategic” is the thoughtfulness of every step. It is the difference between looking at your e-mail inbox in search of the next action and opening your e-mail with a mental plan that takes e-mail as input.

Sales people think about here and now, without regard for strategy, right? If that is the case, it is only because organizations don’t arm them with the real-time knowledge needed to be strategic (which customers have open tickets? What is the competition doing right now? How are the top sales people winning their deals? Who can help me overcome sales objections?).

Contrary to prevailing thinking, maximizing results today is not only compatible with, but requires strategy. Not only if you are in charge of “strategic accounts”, not only during the annual sales conference. Every one. Every day.

So, can Sales People do it? What do you think?

This article was originally written for and posted at

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