In sales automation done right, I make extensive use of one of my favorite business analytical tools, the 2×2 matrix. It’s a given that if a complex idea can be framed into two counter or opposing issues, the four quadrant result of a well-planned 2×2 matrix can throw a huge amount of understanding on a problem.
One of the most well known examples is Stephen Covey’s wonderful grid for managing personal resources. Covey says that tasks should be viewed from the two aspects of importance versus urgency. Some stuff that requires urgent attention may not in fact be important, and vice versa.
For instance, Covey categorizes personal recreation as something that is important to get done, but usually not urgent (you can wait four hours until you are out of the office before having a game of tennis). Conversely, he puts many intrusive telephone calls into the urgent, but not important category.
According to the quadrant that people tend to focus on most, Covey can predict whether a person is heading for burnout, or is leading a well-paced, creative and crisis-free life. The simple four-quadrant perspective allows Covey to disassemble troublesome conflicts that are potentially stressful in a busy business environment such as sales.
Most will have read at least one of Stephen Covey’s books, but if you haven’t, a good place to start is with First Things First, which is excellent for salespeople who want to hone up their organizational skills.
If you need to know all there is to know about the 2 by 2 matrix, you should look at this book: The Power of the 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2×2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems and Make Better Decisions. It discusses scores of examples of the four quadrant model in a host of business environments. Well worth a read.
There is a review of the above book here by business thought leader Michael Schrage. Michael’s article is interesting because he considers the 2×2 and Microsoft PowerPoint as the two most popular business analytical tools. But he also points out that they are not always used effectively. A good 2×2 is difficult to construct (we’ll take a look at my attempts in future posts). But PowerPoint especially is often thrust at audiences by presenters who haven’t put too much thought into the slides. We’ll take a look at that in a future post as well.