A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is a basic pro and con view of your next steps. So simple to do, yet so powerful if done honestly and it provides an assessment of what you may encounter.
- A number of years ago, I attended a seminar by a well-known business book author who was also a professor from a very prestigious business school. To add to his resume, he had also been an executive with a number of Fortune 1000 companies in the course of his career. He had a track record that was so impressive and he passed along his view of leadership and decision-making. He spoke of some major moves his companies made, and the process involved that include off-site meetings, executive team all-day sessions, and even hiring consultants at times to help formulate decisions.
He said there's obviously a need, at times, for in-depth and intense reviews of the business, but sometimes as leaders we overcomplicate things. He told us his favorite, and often most productive tool for quick examination of his business was the SWOT analysis. The key advice stood for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. I was perplexed at the time, but as it turns out, that advice was so good that I've used SWOT analyses many times for decision-making and even my career planning.
SWOT analyses are done without a lot of fanfare. It's not intimidating. They're great for involving your entire team, and they're perfect for preparing an outline of more in-depth reviews needed. As you develop your sales channel strategy I would highly recommend doing a SWOT analysis. You can do this with an overall view of your sales operation. What can be really eye-opening is reviewing and analyzing existing sales channels. And then, for the ones you're considering to develop. It's important to be honest, focused on the key factors and don't overthink it.
Just do it with short, bulleted comments. If you have your team involved, and maybe some colleagues from other departments, it would be a good idea to give some direction as to what you're trying to accomplish, and maybe a brief paragraph to explain it. Here are some example bullet points for each. Strengths: Our sales team has a strong reputation in the marketplace. The innovative efforts from the product development group have consistently given us a leg-up on the competition.
The support we give postsale is recognized within the industry as being superb. Weaknesses: We just don't have the sales expertise in the field with these types of customers. Our delivery times have been flagged for being the slowest by a number of customers. Given our size, there are customers that we just can't reach or give proper attention to. Opportunities: The marketplace is healthy and continuing to expand.
Our services lend themselves to being used by global companies, and we can expand to do it. Our competition is faced with some cutbacks due to issues with other markets they're in. Threats: Our competition is expanding rapidly with both an increased sales team and product offering. Do we have the financial resources at this time to expand? If the stock market slumps some of our key accounts could cut spending and investment.
There are so many advantages to doing a SWOT analysis. In a relatively painless way, you can create a document with clear messages. Then, when you add in the financial reports from your department, the real view of our business, pro and con, is very evident. I also like the aspect of bringing in others to be a part of the process as it fosters a team approach. Things don't need to be complicated to be so powerful, and a SWOT analysis is a terrific way to develop an honest assessment of your business.
- Surveying the marketplace
- Reviewing channels
- Managing channels and investments
- Developing a go forward plan
- Working with other departments and teams
- Handling channel conflict
- Forecasting sales
- Creating a channel marketing structure