There are five major external forces that affect your sales and marketing efforts. They operate outside of any specific organization and companies are, for the most part, at their mercy. Are these forces hindering or enhancing your success right now? The General Economy Economic factors include the nature and direction of the national economy in which a company does business. For international entities, it includes the global economy. We know that consumption is affected by the wealth of the population, and business people must plan accordingly. Some major considerations include the availability of credit and the amount of disposable income in a given market. Both inflation and interest rates and a given country's GDP are other economic factors that can hinder or help your marketing efforts. Social Beliefs and Attitudes Humans are conditioned to respond to different stimuli in unique ways. Whether it is through the general culture, family units, education, or religion, we are trained to react positively to certain things and negatively to others. Society imposes beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyles that are adopted by the masses. These attitudes change frequently as people make an effort to accommodate the demands placed on them by the world around them. As they do, demand for certain styles of clothing, technological devices, leisure activities, and other products/services increase while demand for other alternatives fades away. Politics Political factors include the legal and regulatory issues that control industries and individual businesses. There are several issues to consider here including fair-trade decisions, antitrust laws, taxes, wages, and other government activities designed to protect different classes within society. Technology Technology continues to improve at an exponential rate. The best companies stay on top of technological changes and use them to get more work done in a shorter period of time. Marketers must be aware of the changes that may affect their businesses and industries. New devices, strategies, and techniques can help businesses stay ahead of the competition and avoid obsolescence. Ecology This concept refers to how humans interact with the physical environment. More than ever before, the world at large is concerned with pollution and the loss of habitat and biodiversity. This has ramifications for companies in nearly every industry and has even spawned "green" products and businesses. How are these factors affecting your business? If one or more of them is hindering your sales and marketing success, now is the time to get creative. Think of ideas that will enhance growth and move your company forward.