Strategic thinking is a process that defines the manner in which people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others. Strategic thinking is an extremely effective and valuable tool. One can apply strategic thinking to arrive at decisions that can be related to your work or personal life.
Following are 5 approaches to Strategic Thinking implemented by top sales performers:
- Observing Trends:
In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. Make it a routine exercise to explore the internal trends in your day-to-day activities. Be proactive about connecting with peers both in your organization and in your industry to understand their observations of the marketplace. Then, share your findings across your network.
- Managing Opportunities, time and territories:
Salespeople tend to be transaction oriented, that is–what’s the next email, what’s the next phone call, what’s the next meeting. Days and weeks are consumed by acting and reacting. They seldom take the time to sit back to think and plan. They don’t take the time to develop a deal strategy but look no further than the next step. The highest performing sales professionals schedule time to plan, strategize and think. They look at the long term–are they getting the most out of their territories? Are they investing their time in areas that produce the greatest return? Are they being as effective as possible?
They look at each sales opportunity strategically. They start with the end in mind, developing strategies to get them to the end goal as quickly and effectively as possible. When surprises happen, rather than reacting, they pause to understand, assess the impact of their strategies, they think several steps ahead, adjusting their strategies where appropriate.
- Understanding the value of planning:
Planning a sales call, planning a deal strategy, planning how they will maximize the growth in their territory, planning how they will achieve their goals, planning how to most effectively spend their time. Top sales professionals are also execution oriented–they execute their strategies and plans. They focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of their execution.
- Thinking strategically and look at the bigger picture:
Elevate your thinking beyond the day-to-day, and then share the results of your thinking and efforts within your team. You can be mentored by someone highly strategic. Strategic thinking, understanding the big picture, is the way top sales professionals approach every aspect of their job; it’s what separates them from people chasing transactions.
- Strategic Thinking–For Your Customers:
Top salespeople contribute to their customers in a different way as well. They don’t just compete to solve their customer’s problems; they look at their customers as if it were their own business. They aren’t worried about making the sale, getting the deal. They want to win the customer’s total attention. They are not just Problem Solvers but are Opportunity Solvers. Because of the way they think and the way they help customers grow their businesses, customers view them differently from normal salespeople. They become trusted advisers; they become critical to the success of the customers. Customers don’t avoid them, but actively seek them out. Customers know these top salespeople are focused on their success.
Strategic Thinking, the ability to simultaneously look at both the big picture and tactical issues is what separates top performers from everyone else.
When you carve out time out of your day for strategic thinking, you will be amazed at the possibilities that present themselves.
Keep selling and put on your strategic thinking cap!