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Selected client case examples are presented below.


AMPAC is a leading manufacturer of packaging and serves several markets (Flexibles, Retail, Security) with a variety of packaging offerings. Their retail division has seen strong growth and customer satisfaction but many customers’ purchases were concentrated in one or two packaging types. The challenge: understand better how AMPAC is doing and find growth pockets in key customers. Then, translate that understanding to actionable sales activities customized to each account.  Fundamentally, the solution consisted of executing Three Steps to Customer Insight across approximately 40 key customers representing in excess of $60m in revenue.

These were key results:

What makes this example interesting is the direct connection of a customer survey model to sales action for growth at an individual customer level. That is frequently a missing connection point and a practical innovation that makes a survey into a call to action for account level sales growth.

IBMlogoIBM - Account Focus

Chorus Consulting has conducted over 350 Three Steps to Growth Sessions with IBM generating exceptional and ongoing results. Focus has been on solving growth challenges both for particular brands, customer sets and geographies  A pilot on six accounts in late 2008 demonstrated that the Three Steps to Growth elements (Insight, Action, Outcome) and six key questions efficiently pushed teams to have a growth mindset using strategies (with a small “s”) they would define and buy-into that could generate incremental traction and results. In early 2009, Chorus worked directly with nearly 100 accounts in the US. In late 2009 and all of 2010, Chorus Consulting worked with nearly 250 accounts in IBM Growth Markets (everywhere except Western Europe, Japan, US and Canada). In the second half of 2011, Chorus Consulting will be executing another 60+ Three Steps to Growth sessions in IBM Growth Markets and an additional 10-20 in the United States.

IBM - Partner

When IBM has a partner, three challenges can exist: (1) Getting the partner and IBM focused on an integrated growth plan, (2) mainlining the partner with IBM sales resources and (3) getting the partner to have a growth vision centered on IBM. Chorus Consulting has developed and executed innovative programs to help IBM with partners in Turkey, China, Australia, Singapore and the United States. It includes innovative variations of Three Steps to Growth focused at partners. One variation enables IBM resources to conduct a simplified Three Steps to Growth session for their partners. About 50 partner plans have been put in place using Three Steps to Partner Growth approaches.

IBM - Proposals

In 2011, over 1,000 IBM sellers will be educated in an approach to gaining and using customer insight to develop better proposals. The approach is unique on many levels.  The content is dense, efficient and very “sticky.” The focus is on helping sellers to dramatically improve the questioning approach they use with customers. The result is much deeper insight that results in dramatic improvement in proposals. Sellers in nine countries were educated in the first half of 2011. Innovative real-time technology used in in-person workshops help participants to retain and apply what they learn. The end-to-end nature of the project means that participants need to demonstrate results in their proposal work.

IBM - Revitalization

In 2010 and 2011, IBM engaged Chorus Consulting in the US to help drive a customer revitalization plan. The challenge: In a certain business segment, customers were not adopting new uses of technologies they had invested in over time.  That could potentially make the technologies less strategic in the future. Chorus helped IBM to re-package and articulate the top 10 high value and incremental opportunities for customers to better use the technologies. This was then used in sessions to focus partners on investing in 2-4 of these areas, and to drive plans with over 100 individual customers. The result is a new and deeper focus on “next wave” growth and clear and crisp action plans for partners and customers.

IBM - Strategy

Chorus Consulting has worked with IBM Power Systems, Storage, and their Federal team in five uses of Step Ahead One to develop focused sales strategy and execution plans. The common theme has been the development of sales strategies to drive growth that can be practically implemented in a matrixed organization.

CIncom logoCincom Systems

This Cincinnati based software company engaged Chorus Consulting to lead a three day worldwide planning session focused on developing a “growth mindset” throughout the organization. Cincom is a pioneer in packaged software and has re-invented its products and made acquisitions to better meet customer needs.  What was needed was a “sales obsessed” plan of attack to fully leverage a powerful portfolio. The result was a focus on 3 specific strategies (within the Chorus recommended range of 2-4). This netted down the strategic focus to 3 measurable and manageable areas; Distribution Channel Expansion, New Customer Acquisition, and Execution Excellence. An interesting realization was that every department could play a direct and tangible role in these strategies with specific and measurable actions. Truly striving for “same thing, same time, together as one.”

In an interesting note, an executive confided in Chris that frequently in such meetings he thought many people “Said what management wanted to hear and nodded when on cue to the strategy du jour.”  This is common in most companies. But, Chorus Consulting’s use of electronic trade off analysis in real time makes people think, discern and ultimately prioritize. Consensus (or lack of consensus) is obvious and graphically displayed. For Cincom, that meant honest feedback and priority setting. Something needed in most “Strategic planning sessions.”

WClogoWest Chester Holdings

West Chester Holdings is a leading distributor of gloves. Across 140 accounts representing nearly $40m in spend, they used Three Steps to Customer Insight to identify $60m in additional pockets of opportunity. They found strong performance but an opportunity for improvements in 6 of 7 execution areas and in 2 of 3 strategic value-add areas.

An “a-ha” moment was the realization that customer knowledge of 4 of 7 product areas was lacking. Individualized customer dashboards enabled West Chester to see pockets of opportunity by account. The presentation allowed for information to be shared directly with customers so reps and customers together could discuss growth areas.

Sybase logoSybase

Sybase sells a great database that has been the product of choice in key sectors such as financial. Their perception as being a “Database company” was so strong that partners in accounts often were challenged to apply and understand new products. Chorus Consulting helped Sybase to engage and motivate partners to better collaborate in accounts to drive new products. Two key approaches were used, an early form of Three Steps to Growth and a unique and tailored offering used directly with customers and partners (Step Ahead for Information Agility). Over 80 sessions were conducted generating end-to-end growth and collaboration plans.  Most interesting among these were sessions done directly including competitive customers. Chris Hicks was featured in the press in Serbia for his work with companies there in conjunction with Sybase and MD Profy (A Sybase partner).

Chorus Consulting has worked with Sybase in over a dozen countries.

Deerfield logoDeerfield Construction

Deerfield Construction serves customers in end-to-end build outs.  The visionary CEO, realized that the Chorus Consulting model of “Trade-off” analysis could have a powerful impact on helping employees set priorities and clarify their own goals.

What was really more important?

Step Ahead for Employee Engagement is a customized version of Step Ahead Two to focus in on these key questions. The goal was to help management and employees to internalize their own priorities and to empower managers with a better understanding of what made each employee tick. Every participating employee walked away with their own personal “Priority Map.” Managers then worked with employees to develop plans to allow them to make better choices and decisions.

Bryan logoBryan Equipment

Bryan Equipment is the distributor for Stihl Power equipment in six states in the midwestern United States. They are exceptionally well run but always strive to be better. Chorus Consulting has worked with Bryan Equipment four times to develop plans for continued growth and execution improvement. These have used both Step Ahead One for strategy and planning and Step Ahead Two to engage departments to generate new ideas and strategies for excellence. Bryan has continued strong growth and innovation each year since first working with Chorus Consulting in 2007.

Chris once went to a distribution event at the invitation of the Bryan Equipment CEO. By coincidence, Chris sat down in a main tent next to a Bryan employee he had never met. She introduced herself, and upon finding out that Chorus Consulting helped Bryan Equipment, rattled off the list of practical focus strategies Bryan was executing. Her job: accounting clerk. Practical strategies can resonate at all levels of an organization. She was a testament to “Saying the same thing, at the same time, together as one.”

CR logoCR Architecture

Chorus Consulting helped CR Architecture’s management team establish growth strategies for each unit.  CR Architecture has developed strong client relationships and has served a premier list of clients. One challenge is translating that success into broader, deeper and new client’s relationships and having a growth mindset (no complacency) in all units.

AMI logoAmerican Modern Insurance

American Modern insurance is a leader in specialty causality. They engaged Chorus Consulting using Step Ahead Two to validate and assess team consensus and interlock on defined strategies.  The results highlighted areas of missing insight and lack of shared vision by virtue of the use of trade off priority setting models.

There is a great video titled “The Road to Abilene” in which a family sits pondering where to go to dinner.  No one offers a suggestion and they end up backing into “Driving to a diner in Abilene.”  It was no one’s first choice. The choice happened because no one objected. Needless to say, the trip becomes a nightmare. The problems include a flat tire, failing air conditioning, and bad food. When back home, asks itself “Who said to go to Abelene.” They end up realizing they all went along because they thought everyone else wanted to when in reality no one wanted to. “The Road to Abilene” happens in companies more frequently than most would care to admit. American Modern Insurance used the results to refine plans and focus and make sure they were on a road to success, not Abilene. You can read more about the Abilene paradox here.

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