As a sales person you probably climbed the sales career ladder through your ability to drive results and make things happen. If you think about it, most (if not all) of these activities were tactical in nature. As you’ve progressed to more senior leadership roles in Sales, your tactical hat seems to fit even better. There are many more tactical issues to sink your teeth into, and people increasingly come to you for help with operational challenges. In fact, you’ve become so indispensable now that you probably have people queuing up outside your office begging to see you. Oh that feels good!
You like getting things done. Through hard work you can complete actions quickly. The feeling of accomplishment contributes to your sense of self-worth. But completing tactical actions takes time. In fact as the business grows it begins to take most of YOUR time. You are constantly drawn into the current crisis. And the buzz of the tactical work remains as exciting and sexy as ever!
However the mantle of top-level sales leadership demands a shift towards greater focus on strategy and the empowerment of your sales team. Of course you still have to pitch in to deliver the revenue numbers come rain or shine, but your company, your investors and your team need YOU, the Sales VP, to be thinking and acting in a more strategic manner.
The best piece of advice I ever received (from a professional coach) was “only do the things that only you can do”. The next time you find yourself trapped in your office, clearing your overflowing inbox, answering urgent calls, handling constant interruptions or attending too many meetings, recite that little mantra and ask yourself how you might change your approach to the job.
If YOU are the one who needs to be strategic, shouldn’t it make you act differently? Can you delegate, prioritize, postpone, discard or build an organization to effectively handle tactical actions instead of you? Try it and see. The sexiness of being tactical is alluring, but you’ll find there is real satisfaction in being strategic!