Friday, August 23, 2013

Take a Swat at SWOT

The fundamental formula for retailing success is to identify the shopper’s needs and then fulfill them. Author Robert Spector talks about how, in medieval London, the shopkeeper would stand in front calling out to passersby, “What lack ye?”
     Business researchers at the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) claim that the rules for needs assessment have changed since then, most dramatically in business-to-business (B2B) selling. With easy access to information and sophisticated analysis tools, business buyers often have decided on their needs well before starting to contact suppliers. They issue a Request for Proposal containing detailed specifications. The challenge for the retailer who wants to sell to other businesses is to move beyond asking about unfulfilled needs. Discern needs which are unrecognized by the potential customer or client.
     This means shoving aside some assumptions in techniques like SWOT, which was designed a half century ago to assess the internal strengths and weaknesses of a client and then the opportunities available to and threats facing the client because of external factors. The SWOT framework is sound. In particular, it considers the externalities usually overlooked in other needs assessment techniques.
     The Achilles’ heel kicks in if assuming potential customers or clients are able to assess those externalities as accurately as a skilled sales representative can. The internet and Big Data mindsets can bestow undeserved confidence.
     The SWOT analysis must now become increasingly sophisticated. Compared with past usage of the technique, SWOT requires more creative preparation before meetings with those in the business who influence the purchase; courage in proposing disruptive ideas to a potential customer who may very well firmly believe that all has been settled; and perseverance in making the sale when you know there are unrecognized needs.
     The CEB researchers recommend that you work with three types of people within each business to which you want to make a large sale:
  • Go-Getters. These purchase influencers look for innovative ways to improve the organization. Be aware they’re more interested in talking about their company than yours. 
  • Teachers. They like to tell others their insights, so can become champions of change. However, they’re often weak in appreciating how purchase decisions are made in their own organization. 
  • Skeptics. They challenge you to consider all aspects of what you’re proposing. Skeptics are willing to be convinced. In this way, they differ from Blockers, another category identified and named by the CEB researchers. Sidestep the Blockers. 
Click below for more: 
Recognize a Need, Then Fill It 
Complete the Collection for Shoppers 
Stay Aware of B2B Distinctions 
Learn the Relationship B2B Customers Want 
Yo-Yo with Yin-Yang Cues

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