It’s summertime. Longer days and slower pace. Thoughts of vacation and holiday dance in your head as you revel in relaxation. And then, reality hits. You remember that you’re a sales manager and that summertime means simply that half of your year is gone. H1 has been filled with positives and negatives but you look ahead with a heaping dose of selling optimism, knowing that the calendar still gives you time to take actions to accelerate your team’s improvement, close strong and make your year-end numbers.
You think back to January and remember that SWOT analysis you led with your team to kick off the year. That routine planning process assessing those four well-known areas:
Strengths: The internal characteristics that provide you a clear, distinct advantage.
Weaknesses: The internal attributes that place you at a disadvantage, limiting you and your team’s ability to achieve your established goals.
Opportunities: The positive external factors that increase your chances of success.
Threats: The negative external factors that jeopardize your ability to succeed and increase your vulnerability.
Right. You remember, don’t you? And perhaps you’re fortunate to be part of a unique and very enlightened organization. An organization that integrated those SWOT findings into concrete improvement plans that have been guiding your team’s steady progress over the last six months. A dynamic roadmap of self-improvement that’s helped your team to be sitting at 140% of plan at the year’s halfway point. Or maybe not. If you’re like the vast majority of selling organizations, it’s more likely that the results of your SWOT session haven’t seen the light of day since you walked out of that January meeting. The potentially valuable findings were quickly forgotten by a sales team preoccupied with the urgent need to sell and break out of the starting gate fast. Those flip charts chronicling your group’s noble ideas were rolled up in rubber bands and are now collecting dust in the corner of the storeroom.
But, at the year’s halfway point, there’s still time. Time to maximize your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, take advantage of your opportunities and defend against your threats. How? By re-hashing traditional SWOT? No. By taking it to an impactful and actionable level.
With your January SWOT analysis already in place as the baseline, refresh it and fortify it with the lessons learned from H1. You can’t get a reboot on those months gone by, but you can learn from what happened. Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. Of course, you’ll identify some new SWOT items to add that weren’t included previously, but your initial work will save you significant time. And, by the way, if in the interest of starting strong, you neglected to conduct that kickoff SWOT session, now is the time. Not, though, by rolling out traditional SWOT and its focus on documentation. At this point in the year, that’s just not good enough. Forward motion is mandatory. You have to bring SWOT to life by injecting concrete actions to drive acceleration and measurable improvements. To insure a meaningful impact on your H2 numbers, you must act.
In Sandler Enterprise Selling, we make this happen with a tool we call “SWOT Accelerator”. It’s a simple concept, really. Truthfully, most of selling’s best practices are. And it’s easily replicated – light on rocket science, heavy on impact. The first step is to enhance the traditional SWOT findings – the output of what we call the “Build Step”. Then, defined actions for each identified item are created through the “Action Step”, where each SWOT item is augmented through these four critical enhancements:
- Action: The principal action to drive improvement.
The outline of a plan, a template, or other type of initial movement. It must dictate real movement, real strategy, and real action.
- Impact: The effect of the achievement of the results of the action.
Team discussion and consensus determine the expected impact – high, medium or low, in the context of your business.
- Accountability: The person accountable for making the action happen.
Several individuals play roles in driving actions, but it’s critical to identify one specifically accountable person. In Sandler Enterprise Selling, we use the well-known RACI system to illustrate the clear responsibilities of each person engaged:
R = Responsible – The people who do the actual work to get the job done.
A = Accountable – The one person specifically and ultimately accountable.
C = Consulted – The people whose counsel is sought and with whom communication flows in both directions.
I = Informed – The individuals kept informed of status and progress. Typically, their input is not required but is always welcome.
- Date: The date by which the action is to be completed.
The realistic date by the action will be implemented.
With the Action Step completed for all identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the actions are then listed by date and impact level. This provides the prioritized roadmap for attacking the most promising actions quickly, accelerating the improvements in the time remaining.
And you’re spot on in thinking that this simple process of raising SWOT to an actionable level would be valuable in many other organizational initiatives as well. So true. But at this point in the year, there couldn’t be a more powerful way to focus your team on a prioritized roadmap to real improvement. And to hit those year-end numbers.