Using SWOT Analysis for Sales Strategy

As a marketing or sales leader, can you effectively position your products or services to stand out from your competitors and increase sales? A SWOT analysis can help you get a clearer picture of how your company is faring. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Assessing these four elements of your business will pave the way for more productive brainstorming, strategic planning sessions and a more precise understanding of where your company stands in the marketplace. Plus, understanding how your offerings compare with competitors and how to leverage your unique selling points can help you increase market share.

The William Paterson University (WP) Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Sales Strategy online program equips business professionals with the necessary strategy and analysis skills to make business’ decisions while considering a number of factors.

What a SWOT Analysis Reveals

The quadrant-style SWOT analysis reveals both internal and external factors that determine company’s sales and marketing success. The internal factors are revealed in the strengths and weaknesses part of the evaluation and the external factors are identified under opportunities and threats. Once you complete the matrix, you will have the foundational information necessary to develop a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy.

Strengths: From a sales perspective, these are the reasons why customers choose to buy your products over those of your competitors. Various factors — including price points, benefits, perceived quality and the value of your products — can influence customers’ perceptions of value. Sales managers and customer service representatives must focus on these strengths when selling and marketing to customers. Professionals can also use brand strengths to identify a unique selling point for a product. The vehicle may have the market’s most extended warranty, or a cleaning supplies may be the most environmentally safe. The greatest relative strengths of a product or service can become highly effective unique selling propositions.

Weaknesses: Compared to the competition, these aspects of a company’s products and services are subpar. Perhaps a competitor offers a better price point, better quality products or a better warranty. Managers can use these weaknesses to determine whether changes to the sales and marketing approach are necessary. This typically should not require adjusting the price point; it could mean focusing more on unique selling propositions, having salespeople highlight areas of strength and targeting marketing campaigns to the segments most likely to buy. Running shoes may be among the least durable on the market, but if they are also among the most comfortable and performance-enhancing, durability is a benefit worth sacrificing for plenty of competitive runners.

Opportunities: Identifying weaknesses is closely tied to recognizing opportunities for improving goods and services. Often, this is accomplished through dialogue within the team and company. Strategic conversations can be framed around benefits that are important to target customers that are either not offered by significant competitors or are offered at a higher price point. Managers should consider how they can improve both the quality and the overall service without sacrificing manufacturing and supply chain cost efficiency. A company may also be able to expand into new markets, thus edging out some competition. Often, the development of new technologies — such as more flexible tennis racquet graphite — enables a company to break into new markets using the same technologies. In this scenario, that company could use the new material to develop golf driver shafts.

Threats: These are factors that pose a risk to a company’s sales strategy and customer base, which could hurt profitability if left unaddressed. Professionals must adjust the approach to sales if, for example, a large number of customers switched brands because of the price point. Without understanding threats as they emerge and appropriate and timely responses, a business will not be around for long. There can even be threats from within, especially due to human failures. Your company is vulnerable to cutting off your business from potential customers if you are not following the evolution of target markets. Often, threats come in the form of an industry disruptor. For example, while Nokia and Motorola were developing phones with pull-out keyboards, Apple was set to introduce the iPhone, which revolutionized the cell phone industry.

How SWOT Applies to Leadership and Strategy

SWOT analyses are essential for marketing and sales leaders who want to drive creative and innovative approaches in brainstorming and planning sessions. These sessions enable leaders to share information while harnessing the brainpower of their rising stars to identify new possible sales and marketing success factors. Leaders can also use these analyses to evaluate team members and ensure the right talent and skills are in place to make strong sales and marketing decisions.

The MBA With a Concentration in Sales Strategy Online Curriculum

This WP specialized MBA program in sales strategy enables sales and marketing professionals to leverage analytical tools in making sales decisions and executing strategic sales planning initiatives. The SWOT analysis is one of many tools at the disposal of graduates, who are sought by leading regional and national employers for the program’s record in developing innovative sales and marketing leaders.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s online MBA with a concentration in Sales Strategy program.

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