NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the first of a five part series on “Building Relationships,” Matthew Falls of BusinessUSA shares his insights on the small, but crucial steps you need to take to build valuable relationships. The weekly blog series will help you build the relationships that create revenue for your company.
Begin the process of discovering your company’s core competencies by asking yourself some general questions to start your thinking process…
- Revenue, number employees, core competencies?
- What specific organizations or companies have a need for your product?
- Where do you have past performance?
- What skills sets do you wish to market?
- What do you think it takes to build your brand?
- How much time?
- What kinds of resources and how much do you plan to allocate to this?
- How do you feel about strategic acquisitions?
I would suggest that the next step is to conduct an objective, detailed analysis of the company or product from the standpoint of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. (SWOT analysis) Such an analysis is useful when it is done as a team exercise and can also be useful as an individual exercise when looking at a smaller space, such as managing a territory. In either case, it is important to look objectively and avoid the use of general statements.
Strengths are the advantages that the company has proven. They may be a focused management team, a strong supply chain, an established product or service in the market.
Weaknesses are internal challenges that need management attention and better resourcing in order to turn them into strengths. Weaknesses may be inadequate capital, the lack of a brand in the market, or very few use cases for the product.
Companies face a wide range of opportunities and at the same time; they need to concentrate their efforts where they have an advantage due to a particular strength. Think of opportunities as the possibilities for the company. They can come from a well-established need in the market, changes in technology and markets, government policy, social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, etc. They also come from an established market demand.
Like opportunities, threats are external to the company, disruptive factors that must be considered when planning for strategic growth. Changes in technology and markets, government policy, social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, etc. can be opportunities for one company but may be threats for another.
A SWOT analysis can provide the information and insight to pinpoint your company’s product or service’s strengths, match them with opportunities, determine how to convert your weaknesses into strengths, while mitigating threats. SWOT allows you to focus on what is doable and attainable, identifying markets and opportunities that your company can exploit.
It is important to know how to bring your company’s capabilities together to formulate solutions to potential challenges or opportunities. You also need to know the limitations of your capabilities so you don’t promise the customer something you cannot deliver.
Visit your website and read how your company is positioning the solutions that you think will be relevant to the target customer
- How does your solution address the issues that you want to discuss?
- What objections do you anticipate and how can you proactively resolve them?
- How do different products and services you offer link together into a comprehensive solution?
- What additional internal resources should you consider lining up to support your pursuit?
Think about customer challenges and industry issues. You might be about to engage in a conversation that could go beyond your knowledge of product applications and industry expertise. Do the necessary research to add value to the conversation and build your credibility.
- Talk to your internal subject matter experts
- Google “research on <issue of interest>”
- Google “McKinsey, Booz-Allen… report on <issue of interest>”
- Be prepared with potential solutions to industry issues and challenges that you discover.
There are times when an unbiased assessment of your company can be quite helpful. A strategic advisor that is expert in revenue generation can help you see the possibilities and act as an ‘honest broker’ in all engagements. Their objective is to identify and present strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats without bias towards one side or another, allowing all to sit on the same side of the table. The value of reduced internal friction during stressful times cannot be overestimated.
The most valuable result of researching your company and conducting the SWOT analysis is that you now have a clear plan to focus your efforts. By examining your organization to identify its value proposition, you’ve identified your company’s core competencies: those things they do better than anyone else and also those markets that offer the most potential.
Matthew Falls works for the federal initiative BusinessUSA, focusing on outreach to the state and local partners and the business community. He collaborates with state and local economic development organizations to feature their program content on BusinessUSA and to introduce BusinessUSA as a resource to small businesses.