Welcome to the Sales, Marketing and Distribution blog of SMD Group, LLC

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Below are several Sales, Marketing and Distribution posts on topics of interest to growing companies.  Transitioning through the various stages of growth requires focus and structure, two things that can run counter to an entrepreneur’s nature.

This blog shares the experience gained while growing a money losing start up through public ownership, profitability, category dominance, product maturation, private equity investment and a synergistic buyout.  Please post your comments and questions or contact us privately via the Contact Us page.

Shawn Dooley, Managing Director- SMD Group LLC

A SWOT Analysis is Part of the Planning Continuum

illustration, arrows moving in a circle from SWOT to Growth Strategy to Strategic Plan to Implementation and back to SWOTWhen I first implemented a SWOT analysis at Absorption Corp we thought it was a “one and done” tool to focus our thinking on where we were as a company.  It wasn’t until the conversation turned to our long term plan and the big issues each department was wrestling with that we understood that a SWOT analysis is part of circle of assessment, planning, and implementation. Continue reading

A SWOT Analysis Requires More Than One Point of View

Illustration of eyeball looking at managment, employees, customers, vendors and the industry for a SWOT analysisA SWOT Analysis is a snapshot in time.

It may not be the same in six months. It should not be the same in two years- your company, industry and the economy will change over time and effect what is a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity or Threat to your company.

Who should prepare the SWOT analysis for the company?

Management has the responsibility but theirs is not the only perspective, and you could argue that it isn’t the most important assessment of the situation.  The point of view of your staff and of your customers and vendors is critical.  They are at the “point of change” where the SWOT issues are discovered.  Continue reading

The best sales people do these five things in December


graphic of sales man & woman climbing a graphIt’s easy for sales people to waste time during December.  After all, the weather is gray and “cold”, whatever the definition of cold is in your part of the country.  Customers are busy and not in a buying mood.  There’s paperwork to do, shopping to think about, social events to participate in.  Yes, the average sales person can find themselves coasting this time of year. But not you! Continue reading

Give thanks for your competitors, they make you better.

family praying for thanksgiving mealWhen I was in charge of sales at Absorption Corp our biggest competitor was KayTee, a Central Garden Company.  Our CareFRESH® brand small animal bedding was growing and our chief competitive product was wood shavings from KayTee.  We were exclusively a small animal bedding manufacturer at the time, and KayTee was the dominate brand of small animal diets and bird products in the pet specialty category. THEN…we heard that KayTee was introducing “something just like CareFRESH”. Continue reading


business man holding lighbulbRevenue is the lifeblood of any company and the foundation of the annual budgeting process. When sales people are asked to come up with their plans for the year, it should be more than a revenue number they wish, hope and pray to deliver.  It should be a SMART plan that will lay out a clear roadmap to follow.  I learned about SMART work plans when I first started my sales career with Ralston Purina.  I’ve carried the idea of STRATEGIC, MEASURABLE, ACTION oriented, REALISTIC and TIMELY sales plans with me ever since.  Before a sales person turns in their forecast, budget, or plan they need to ask themselves, “Is this plan a SMART one?”.  Continue reading

You don’t sell dollars, why do you build a budget in dollars?

illustrated dollar sign with upward trend line thorugh itIt’s the time of year when companies on a calendar or retail fiscal year are budgeting for the next 12 months.  Many companies I work with think of budgets in terms of dollars because the accounting department, the banks and the shareholders think in terms of dollars.  But that’s not how a manufacturing company should build its budget.

Continue reading