Sales Strategy and Tactics – Thoughts from the Super Bowl

super bowl 46Watching the Super Bowl got me thinking about strategy and tactics.

In baseball, strategy most often involves how the pitchers will exploit the weaknesses of the opposing teams’ hitters but during the game itself, it’s more about tactics.

In football, the head coach has a game strategy that is tweaked during the week and during the game itself, strategy continues to play a big part as plays are selected while personnel substitutions might be more tactical.

Both sports are team sports but baseball relies more on one-on-one battles – pitchers versus hitters – while football relies on each of the eleven men on the field executing perfectly in order for a play to succeed.

In my opinion, football is the sport based more on strategy while baseball is the sport based more on tactics.

Sales Leadership, roles performed by people with titles like Director of Sales, Chief Sales Officer and Worldwide VP of Sales, requires strategy.  Sales Management roles, performed by people with titles like Branch Sales Manager, Division Sales Manager, District Sales Manager and Regional Sales Manager, requires more tactics.  Even when managers conduct account strategies, more often than not, those strategies entail the use of tactics.

Sales Leaders are like the head coaches of football and sales managers are more like the managers on the baseball team.

The problem I observe most frequently is when sales leaders and sales managers do not take ownership of their respective responsibilities for strategy and tactics.  We see sales managers unaware of what their salespeople are doing, where they are doing it, and who they are doing it with.  We see sales leadership unable to get sales managers aligned on strategy, messaging, targeting, pricing and expectations.

If sales leadership can strategize like football head coaches, and sales managers take on tactical responsibilities, like a baseball managers do, we would see more effective, productive, consistent sales organizations.