Sales Objectives vs Strategy vs Tactics: What’s The Difference? Why It Matters.

What is your sales team objective? Strategy? Tactics?
Do you know the difference between the three and does it matter?

Yes, because without clear objectives and the right strategy, sales leaders focus on tactics. When that happens, you lose focus. You do not get the results or all the accounts that should have been yours.

Your sales team should have objectives. Objectives are very clear business goals. Objectives tend to be changed or refined every 12 – 24 months.

Your objectives might be some combination of specific sales volumes, margin generated, number of new accounts, number of new accounts in a targeted vertical, percent of sales generated from repeat buyers or referrals, reducing client churn by a specific percentage, you get the drift.

Your strategy is the choice you make as to a focused approach to reach your objectives. You would typically have 3 – 5 different strategies to choose from that you think could reach your objectives. Think of the strategy you select as your best bet. Your choice among all reasonable options that you feel is most probable to reach your objectives. Strategy is about probabilities. Think of it as the “how” of reaching your objectives.

If you were at war and fighting a battle, to win you would need to pick a strategy. Frontal assault? Guerrilla attacks? Snipers? You select the right strategy or mix multiple options, deciding how to allocate time and resources to each. That becomes your bet, your choice among multiple plans that you feel provides the highest probability to attain your objectives.

Can you imagine what would happen if an intentional and focused approach as to “how” the battle would be won was not chosen? Maybe start with a frontal approach but halfway in you think “Hey, guerrilla warfare might work, lets stop the frontal approach and use guerrilla warfare.” So, you stop the frontal attack and before you can start a guerrilla war you think, “Ah, you know what. I think snipers is a good approach. Ya, snipers.”

What do you think the odds are of winning that battle?
Nil. Defeat is certain. Because there is no intentional well-thought out intentionally chosen strategy.

You must pick a strategy, your “how,” your best bet, of achieving what you wish because every sales team has limited resources. Limited time. Competitors will move up if you falter or fail. If your strategy is weak or you have no strategy, you will fall further behind.

Think of strategy as the high-level choices you make to succeed.

Your strategy must be well thought out and represent your best bet that you will succeed. There are no absolute guarantees that your strategy will work. But you must choose, make your best bet, based upon solid facts, research and serious evaluation of all your options. You may have to make changes or tweak your strategy, but you do not want to be constantly flipping coins or revising strategy on whims.

Tactics are the specific actions you take to implement your chosen strategy to achieve your objectives. Tactics are the never-ending list of things you could do that might grow your sales.

Tactics would be things like:
Cold calling
Direct mail
Social media
Pay per click advertising
Dancing hotdogs
Your story
Writing a book
Setting appointments
Content marketing
Yada yada yada

Think of tactics as the lower level choices you make to succeed.

Without a clear strategy, a lot of tactics seem reasonable. When you are working with a well-thought out strategy, you make better choices about which tactics to use. You have a much better sense of which are more likely to work, and which will be failures. Anecdotes of success won’t sway you. Every good story of something that “worked” will not tempt you. You will make better tactical choices and stick with them.

Would you run a road race with a blindfold on? Not recommended. But that is what you are doing when you are not making decisions with a solid sales strategy. You may run hard and work up a sweat, but the odds of you getting where you want to go, never mind winning, are low.


Hope this message has helped clarify your thinking. To recap:

-Your sales objectives should be a clear and concise.
-You must think strategy-first to have the best chance of reaching your objectives. What is your best bet overall high-level plan that provides you the greatest probability of reaching your objectives?
-You will choose better tactics to reach your objective when you are working with a well thought out strategy.