To learn more about the differences of tactical and strategic selling, you can find a study about the subject in the context of project management services here. This study is the main source material of this post.


In this post I'll discuss the differences between tactical and strategic selling and why you as a seller should identify if your client is looking for a tactical or a strategic relationship.

Let's start by defining the terms tactical and strategic selling. In tactical selling the focus is on features and attributes that provide quick, limited scope fixes for your client. Strategic selling on the other hand addresses problems on the business level: the focus is on results and benefits that help your client achieve their business objectives as opposed to team or project objectives.

When you align your sales to match client needs, you communicate tactical values to tactical buyers and strategic values to strategic buyers. Otherwise you risk losing the sale or entering into a client relationship that is unsatisfying for both you and the client. But how do you know whether a potential client is a tactical or a strategic buyer? And what does this alignment of sales look like in practice?

According to a Harvard Business Review article by Frank Cespedes and Tracy DeCicco, buyers tend to be more strategic the higher up you go in seniority. More senior buyers are typically looking to address market challenges or opportunities whereas lower-level buyers are often looking for solutions to operational issues.

Because of this, higher-level buyers are much more receptive for valuable insights about the key trends in their business environment. Lower-level buyers on the other hand are much more concerned if you are a good fit for their project, and because of this, want to discuss more about features. It's also possible that your first sales meetings with a client are tactical and latter ones strategic as you start interacting with more people inside the client organization.

Do all of your clients get the same sales presentation or do you use the idea of tactical and strategic selling to address the right issues at the right level?

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