Case Studies

Below are Case Studies of actual SM Advisors clients. Read about their business challenge and how SM Advisors partnered with them to plan, execute and ultimately profit from the changes their team made.

Please click on each link to read more about each client scenario.

Implementing the fundamentals
Make your dream a reality
Stop getting negotiated on price!
What separates profitable companies – Tactical Planning
Maximizing value after an acquisition
Do I have the right people in the right positions?
Building a high performance team
Hiring the right person the first time

Implementing The Fundamentals
Customer Situation
The owner did not know how to take the organization to the next level. They felt as though they had something unique to offer but couldn’t clearly identify what it was. They were unable to land new business because the company did not know how to take their strategy to market.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors conducted an organizational and team assessment. From the results of the assessment, we developed a very simple planning process to implement the fundamentals of success into their organization. Some of these fundamentals included identifying their competence and developing a strategic sales and marketing plan to land new business. SM Advisors assisted in implementing processes to measure the tangible value their competence delivered to their current and potential customers. We then developed sales tools and processes to clearly communicate the tangible value they delivered in business reviews and new business presentations. Once the plan was developed we addressed the skill set voids identified by the talent assessment process. The Talent Management System was implemented to Build the Team to Achieve Their Dream. At the conclusion of the process the company had a clearly defined strategy, a go-to-market strategy and a skill set aligned team to execute the plan.

Customer Benefit / Results:
They now clearly understand how to differentiate their company from their competition and prove it. In eight months they landed several key accounts that will triple their sales over the next two years. In all of the sales processes the company was not the lowest priced but still won the business because they proved that they brought greater total value than any other supplier. They now sell and deliver with confidence because Those Who Plan – PROFIT!

Customer Feedback:
We will look back on the planning process as the turning point for our organization. I now sleep much better at night because I know our organization has a solid plan and bright future. Getting new business will never be an issue for our organization again.
Back to Top


Make Your Dream A Reality
Customer Situation:
The organization was experiencing incredible growth but did not have the strategy, systems, infrastructure and talent in place to take advantage of the opportunity. There was a high level of frustration across the organization and ownership was uncertain what to do.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors conducted an organizational and team assessment which resulted in a customized planning process to address the specific strategic challenges of the organization. SM Advisors led the planning team through the process which brought the leadership to several significant decision points. The key decisions included how to differentiate their organization from their competition, and the business model and organizational structure to deliver that differentiation. Once the planning team completed the strategic plan each department developed tactical plans for their functional areas. These plans included the action plans for each department to work “on” the business in their functional areas. The tactical plans created buy-in and accountability across the organization.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The strategic and tactical plans addressed all the major challenges the organization was facing. The team had a clear direction on where they were heading and what had to be done to get there. Instead of the frustration of spinning their wheels, the team felt like each day they were putting another brick on the foundation of a great company. With a new strategy, business model, organizational structure and tactical plans in place, the organization has laid the foundation for significant growth and profitability. The company is now experiencing the tangible value of developing and executing strategic and tactical plans and is increasing profitability.

Customer Feedback:
Because it was our first year of planning, SM Advisors kept the process very simple by focusing on implementing the fundamentals in our business. Our feelings of frustration have turned into positive energy and momentum. Planning will be something our team and organization will look forward to every year.
Back to Top


Stop Getting Negotiated On Price!
Customer Situation:
This company was a victim of being sold on price. Differentiating a service is one of the greatest strategic challenges that most organizations face and this service company was no different. They were focused on target markets that were not interested in paying more for their service.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors identified that this company had no differentiation. SM Advisors worked with the team to identify what their unique offering was to their customers. We identified their competence and researched the potential target markets to determine the customers that would find value in and pay more for the service they offered. Once identified we created new marketing tools geared toward that target market that clearly communicated the differentiation we offered.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The organization and sales force now had a clear differentiation and story to sell. And what made it even more powerful was that they could prove that they were better than the competition. Price negotiation was minimized. Often the company confidently chose to walk away from business that did not meet gross margin objectives. Over the next twelve months the company increased its gross margin percentage almost five percentage points.

Customer Feedback:
“As a service company we had difficulty differentiating ourselves in the marketplace. SM Advisors expertise in planning with service companies was critical in developing and executing a plan that created a differentiation that resulted in increased sales and profitability for organization. Their unique approach of assisting in the execution of the plan held our management team accountable and ensured our success. I have and will continue to recommend SM Advisors to other service companies. SM Advisors will be a long-term strategic advisor to our company.”
Back to Top

What Separates Profitable Companies – Tactical Planning
Customer Situation:
Each year the company launched a strategic initiative but found after a couple of months any continued efforts had faded away. Working “on” the business usually never made it past the Executive Management Team and there was little to no accountability.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
In addition to leading the strategic planning process, SM Advisors instituted tactical planning and a plan execution program. After the strategic plan was completed, each department leader developed a tactical plan for their department which included action plans to work “on” the business. Every action plan had an owner and completion date from within the department. Each department presented their tactical plan to the management team to communicate what they were going to accomplish as well as gain feedback from their colleagues. To ensure plan execution, each quarter the entire management team got together to review what was completed and what was still outstanding.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The tactical planning process engaged the entire organization in understanding and executing the plan. Action plans to work “on” the business were being completed across the organization which accelerated the success of the company. As the organization resolved its major strategic challenges the company was better prepared to take a proactive strategy to the market through new products and acquisition. The plan execution review meetings created consistent peer accountability. The annual business plan is no longer a paperweight but a living, breathing, working document.

Customer Feedback:
We now have 30 managers actively engaged in the process and working on the business. SM Advisors commitment to execution kept us on track and helped us accomplish our goals in a much shorter time period.
Back to Top

Maximizing Value After An Acquisition
Customer Situation:
A professional service firm had agreed to terms to purchase a company that would double its size. The companies had very different cultures as well as brought different areas of expertise within the same industry. There was no plan in place to assimilate the organizations and maximize synergies.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors developed a customized process which focused on maximizing synergies and developed a strategy for the new entity. The first year planning process focused on implementing the fundamentals of every successful organization. These fundamentals included developing a competence/differentiation, identifying and prioritizing target markets, creating a new brand strategy that communicates the competence, developed a clearly defined vision, and the organizational structure to deliver the competence and vision. Measurements were put in place to monitor the success of the assimilation plan and specific action plans, with owners of those action plans, were developed. The new management team presented their strategic plan to the Board of Directors with rave reviews.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The new entity had a unifying plan for all employees to rally around. Any confusion with employees, customers and the market place was minimized because the company proactively launched a plan to control its own destiny. The assimilation was seamless to the customer bases of both companies and synergies were maximized.

Customer Feedback:
For our first acquisition we did not develop an assimilation plan and that was reflected in our results. Having a thorough acquisition plan for this transaction turned a very overwhelming process into a very simple and profitable one. I will never do another acquisition without an assimilation plan with SM Advisors.
Back to Top

Do I Have The Right People In The Right Positions?
Customer Situation:
The company was underperforming versus budget and the leadership team was unable to work together to address it. The owner was very frustrated and realized changes needed to be made but was unsure of what to do.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
As part of the strategic planning process, SM Advisors assessed the talent, behavioral make-up and skill set alignment of the team. The results revealed several significant challenges within the team. The owner hired people like himself which created a team that looked at decisions all the same way. This led to significant unhealthy conflict in the meetings and very poor decision making. There were limited strategic thinking abilities on the team as well as several skill set voids. SM Advisors began the process of implementing a Talent Management System. The process to build a high performance team started by identifying and prioritizing the key skill set voids. A selection process was initiated on the most significant skill set void. As part of the selection process, the team took part in a patented benchmarking session to identify what the ideal candidate looks like for the position. All candidates were then compared to the benchmark through a gap report and the candidate with the greatest fit was interview and hired. Personal development plans for each team member are being completed as the implementation of the Talent Management System continues.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The assessment of the team was an eye opening experience for the owner. Many of the challenges faced by the team started to make sense as well as the solutions to overcome those challenges. Action plans were established to finalize the implementation of the Talent Management System and the organization was on its way to building the team to achieve its dream.

Customer Feedback:
The Talent Management System has changed how we manage our human resources. The benchmarking process was unlike anything I had seen before. It helped us clearly define what talent we needed and made sure we hired right the first time.
Back to Top

Building A High Performance Team
Customer Situation:
The Chairman of the Board called SM Advisors and explained that the team was not performing to their potential. Lack of communication was a huge factor in the leadership dysfunction. The team had incredible talent but was unable to get past the roadblocks that were beginning to break down the team.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors conducted assessments to evaluate the behavioral style of each team member. As a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, SM Advisors analyzed the results and quickly identified the communication and behavioral style challenges within the team. SM Advisors created a relevant and customized team development process to resolve the specific challenges facing the team. The team took part in group sessions as well as individual coaching that included action plans to adapt their style for more effective communication.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The team was able to visually see differences through the assessment process and was able to recognize the key issues holding them back. They developed mutual understanding and began to value each others’ differences as leaders – the same differences that once created controversy have now become strengths. The team had the most candid discussions they have ever had. With a new communication process and action plans in place the team has a clear plan to optimize their potential, both individually and as a team. The financial performance of the organization has improved as a result of the higher performing team.

Customer Feedback:
“The process accomplished exactly what was needed. The leadership team is performing at a higher level, which has transferred to the rest of the organization. The team is now able to have candid dialog about any issue. The success of the organization comes down to the performance of the team. I am really excited about the future of our organization.”
Back to Top

Hiring The Right Person The First Time
Customer Situation:
This company was struggling to achieve its sales budget due to unfilled sales positions and skill set misalignment in their sales force. In other words, they hired sales representatives whose sales style did not match the requirements needed to be successful in the position. The company’s hiring process was inconsistent and inadequate which led to poor hiring decisions and significant turnover costs. A poor hire costs a company three to five times the annual salary.

SM Advisors’ Solution:
SM Advisors worked with the leadership team and the HR Department to implement a more effective selection and hiring process. The process began by benchmarking the position. The benchmarking process has the key stakeholders of the position determining the optimum behavioral style, motivators and natural skills for the job. The new selection process has all candidates take the behavioral assessments which leads to a gap report that illustrates the fit of the candidate to the benchmark. The company makes the right hiring decision the first time and then uses the results of the behavioral assessments to create a personal development plan for continuous improvement.

Customer Benefit / Results:
The company has built a skill set aligned team that has the right person in the right position. The company has significantly reduced turnover and as a result has drastically cut personnel expenses. The company has a high performance sales team that now meets its annual sales budget.

Customer Feedback:
SM Advisors helped us address an issue that was crippling our organization. Now that we have built a high performance team we spend a lot less time on personnel issues and more time on increasing the bottom line of our company. We now have a selection process that allows us to make more accurate and confident hiring decisions.
Back to Top