As most companies finalize business plans for the New Year, ahead, I thought it might be timely to address the subject of Goals, Strategy, and Tactics. For any organization, goals, strategies, and tactics cascade throughout the business. During the planning process, these terms are often used interchangeably. For the purpose of this blog, we will use the context of a sales organization to define them.
While the Goals for the sales organization typically cascade upward to larger organizational Goals, within the sales organization itself, they are the highest level of achievement a sales leader sets for an individual year. Examples of typical organizational sales Goals could be such things as “grow the revenue 10% over the previous year,” “improve the gross margins by 10% over the previous year,” and “improve closing ratio by 10% over the previous year.” Any Goal must be time bound (by the end of the current year), and measureable (10% over previous year).
A mnemonic first introduced by Peter Drucker in “The Practice of Management,” SMART is commonly used to define both goals and Tactics. The elements of a SMART goal are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. Due to the cascading nature of goals as described above, I typically skip attainable and relevant at the sales organizational level due to the fact that many of the goals have been set for the sales leader by the CEO of the company.
Given the definition of goals as stated above, strategies are general descriptions of high level actions that will be pursued to support the accomplishment of the goals. Said another way, strategies are nothing more than the general course of action which will be employed to achieve each goal. Examples of strategies that support the goals set above might be to “grow the national accounts revenue by $500,000,” “renegotiate contracts in their final year upward by 15%,” and “institute a policy that all deals over $1M must involve a member of the management team during the final presentation.”
The final and perhaps most overlooked piece of any good plan are the tactics. In the case of a sales organization, these tactics often become part of individual sales call plans. The tactics are the specific activities that are planned and executed by a specific time in order to achieve the strategy, which of course is tied to attaining the objective. As with goals, these individual tactics need to be SMART in order to insure we achieve the goals within the SMART parameters of each individual goal. In following the same example begun above, some examples of tactics might be to “hire two new national account managers by January 15th,” “have account assistants pull all contracts in the final year for review sorted by sales rep by January 15th,” and “communicate new policy on sales calls over 1M by January 1st.” As you can see from these examples, it will probably take numerous individual tactics to accomplish each of the strategies you have set. By carefully planning out each one we can insure we will accomplish our strategies within our targeted timeframe in order to accomplish our goals.
One of my favorite quotes about planning is from Dwight Eisenhower, who said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” What he meant is that on the battlefield or in business, everything is constantly changing. While these changes may adversely impact our strategies and tactics, the real value of a good plan is in the process of organizing yourself so you can react to change in a more informed manner. I always find I learn more about my business every time I engage in the planning process as described above. I hope this helps you to plan for continued success in 2013.