The S.W.O.T. Analysis, where you evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, is well known in the business planning process. Many companies use this method during strategic planning exercises as a way to form strategies and make decisions on new business ventures or initiatives. It is powerful because it looks at both internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, threats) forces.
As powerful as the S.W.O.T. Analysis is for business planning, it is equally powerful in sales and marketing decision-making. By employing this traditional tool to each of your sales and marketing activities, you can take advantage of your strengths, uncover new opportunities, minimize your weaknesses, and eliminate your threats in amazing ways. That is, however, only if you can be objective. Otherwise, the exercise falls flat.
While the S.W.O.T. Analysis can be applied to decisions about business planning, product development and other strategic decision-making tasks, consider using it for the following two sales and marketing activities:
1. Deciding Marketing Vehicles: Use the S.W.O.T. Analysis to evaluate each marketing vehicle in your marketing plan. This will allow you to focus marketing efforts on the vehicles where you have the most advantage or opportunity and the most minimal amount of weakness or threat.
2. Developing Sales Presentation/Proposals: Apply the S.W.O.T. Analysis to the development of each of your sales presentations and proposals. Be sure to focus the analysis on evaluating each section based on issues specific to the customer you are pitching.
As you approach your S.W.O.T. Analysis, consider the following questions.
- Strengths: What advantages does your company/product have that no one else has? What makes you most unique? Focus on those things that make your offer most compelling to a prospect or customer.
- Weaknesses: Where can you improve? Where have you made mistakes in the past? What do you not have that other companies/products in your industry have? Focus on those things that most detract from your offer.
- Opportunities: What trends lend to your strengths? What is the potential "expansion" potential over time? Opportunities are external factors that represent why your company exists or should/can growth.
- Threats: What challenges do you face? What are your competitors doing? What is the overall competitive landscape? Threats are external forces that could impact your success, such as competition, operational capacity, cost of goods increases, etc.
No matter the purpose, using the S.W.O.T. analysis can force thoughtful, strategic, and creative thinking. And, when used properly, the S.W.O.T. Analysis not only helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but it also helps you determine your strategies for addressing each.