Forge the Future
Bob Sherlock, Partner & CMO
My teammates and I collaborate with business leadership teams to find ways their companies can assure sales and margin growth despite high uncertainty and market shifts.
Following my corporate career at GE and Wickes, and a venture-funded startup, I began working with companies on a consulting basis 20 years ago to unlock and create value, for six- and seven-figure gains. At the bottom of this page, you will find comments from just a few of the companies I’ve helped.
Does this sound like you?
Your company sells to businesses and other organizations, rather than directly to consumers.
Your company provides important, expensive business inputs or is crucial in other ways to your customers’ business success. The buying decision is an important one for your customers—there’s a lot at stake.
You believe that, by making the right moves, your company’s best days lie ahead.
Your company is at a critical transition point in the marketplace, or you see a need for significant changes in market strategy, product/service offering, or revenue model.
Your team lacks the required skillsets, or the bandwidth, to break through a sales plateau and address your urgent marketplace challenges.
Are you experiencing one or more of these issues?
- You’ve tried various sales and marketing approaches, but something’s just not clicking. You’re frustrated because sales have plateaued, or go up and down.
- Feeling pressure from the Board of Directors to do something different to grow faster, or avoid getting left behind as markets shift. If you don’t find a better path, your future is uncertain at best.
- Challenged to integrate past and future acquisitions into a clear market strategy and go-to-market plan, or else live without the synergies you’re counting on.
- Many growth ideas competing for resources, but there's no formal process for prioritizing. You’re not executing well and you’re overloading your best people.
- Guilty of committing random acts of marketing and chasing bright shiny objects. So you’re not getting much return on investment from these efforts.
Left unaddressed, these issues will have lousy consequences for customers, associates, executives, and shareholders.
My work focuses on these four outcome-oriented practices:
- You’ll pick the right markets/segments, and bring bigger value to your target customers. You’ll break through any plateau on your revenues and earn the stronger market share and earnings you desire.
- We’ll help you systematically vet and prioritize your growth opportunities, picking winnable battles that’ll be worth winning. You’ll be more focused and use all your resources more effectively.
- You’ll define a marketing strategy based on market insights, instead of impulsive ideas. We’ll help you build a strategy, and aligned tactics, that have a high probability of working.
- You’ll structure your organization (and outside resources as needed) to carry out the integrated, prioritized actions to implement the strategy and get beyond a ceiling on revenues.
These proven practices position you to stand out in the right market(s), grow both sales and margins, and boost enterprise value.
What can you expect to gain from working with me?
You will find ways to create Bigger Value and find more promising market segments for the future.
You and your team will systematically prioritize your growth opportunities and focus your investments and best people where they have the highest probability of paying off big.
You’ll go from too many strategy options whirling around in your head to feeling clarity and confidence that you and everyone on your team are focused on the critical few.
Ultimately, you’ll harness your team’s strengths and find the few missing pieces that hold back bigger results.
What’s the structure for working together?
Forge the Future is a transformational collaboration to unlock and create big value, designed to deliver the outcomes described above.
Including implementation, our work together is intended to last the better part of a year. But you need not commit to that upfront—only the first stage.
The first stage is called Find Your Hidden Value — and Bigger Value.
We’re going to draw out what you and your team collectively already know that’ll be needed to understand the full value of your company’s current and potential future solutions. Then we’ll identify companies and the types of decision makers for me to personally interview, to find additional elements of value that you and your team are missing or underemphasizing.
When we’ve completed this initial stage, you can expect to:
- Have an enhanced understanding of why customers make the choices they do, what’s important to them, and what’s changing and challenging in their worlds that can create opportunity for your company
- Take what we learn about how your company can create Bigger Value and translate it into a “just simple enough” strategy, translate it into prioritized growth initiatives, and line up the organization to execute.
- Know first-hand what it’s like to work with me and experience how I can multiply the effectiveness of your team
Because a strategy that sits in a file or on a shelf has little value, I help you implement. Tactical action is crucial to achieving results. When we complete the action plan, we will enter an implementation coaching and quarterbacking phase where I will help you put your new game plan into effect. That’s the next stage of Forge the Future.
I’ve found that this implementation stage of work together is necessary. Several times in the past, clients have told me, “This is so great! We’ll take it from here,” only to see months pass with little to no action.
Instead, this is why we build in rapid implementation as the crucial second stage of our work. I’ll help you make sure that implementing the strategy stays a priority.
What’s my approach to producing action and outcomes?
The executives and owners I work with, and their teams, are the stars of the show. Not me. I am a skilled guide who helps them to discover what they are too close to their situation to fully see; develop initiatives; and make things happen.
Collectively, the key people in the company typically know about 80% of what’s needed to develop a strategy and tactics that’ll achieve breakout from a competitive stalemate.
My job is to draw out that knowledge and organize it so that it’s actionable and powerful — AND to help discover the missing 20% that will help the team earn the outcomes they seek, even in a tough competitive market. Then I help you make the crucial decisions and put them into action.
What does this program help you avoid?
Staying stuck in a disadvantaged market position, racking your brain about what to do to get growth, while your margins get compressed by cost inflation and price pressure.
Your Board of Directors becoming increasingly apprehensive that the company won’t have a good future unless something changes.
Trying to pull off too many initiatives at the same time, because it’s unclear which ones are most promising, and doing none of them justice.
Random acts of marketing, and chasing the newest bright shiny object you read about or heard from another executive or a marketing agency—while future-building actions are postponed in the day-to-day, customer-by-customer rush of business.
Missing out on market opportunities that aren't obvious yet, because day-to-day business crowds out positioning the company for big sales and profit growth in the markets of the future.
How is my approach different?
Structured, organized, just simple enough, and accountable. I bring you proven frameworks and approaches.
I help you gather useful insights from customers and prospects, at a much deeper level than most market research and surveys ever do. I’ll combine those insights with your team's collective knowledge. Then I guide you all into action, with follow-through and accountability.
Chief Outsiders' 100+ highly experienced fractional Chief Marketing Officers supplement my expertise to provide you with the best advice and implementation.
During our next discussion, I’ll walk you through examples of what you’ll be getting as outputs, and the process we'll use, so that what to expect will be very tangible.
What is Forge the Future not?
It’s not an expert who swoops in with all the answers, says, “Voila, here’s your strategy!” and then leaves.
It’s not a cookie cutter with 14 steps that are used whether they fit your company or not.
Nor is it a consulting report that’ll sit on the shelf because no one on your team has the bandwidth, or just the right skillsets, needed to lead implementation.
What a few past clients have said about our work together
“Bob Sherlock delivered the best ROI of any consultant we’ve used. He worked with us to better understand our value to customers, and helped us develop a much better process for pricing. Bob spent the time with us to understand the particulars of our business, so we could apply his frameworks and tools to make better decisions and implement. He did everything he promised, and as he predicted the results are a multiple of what it cost to work with him. I highly recommend Bob as a resource.”
G.R. Kearney, CEO, ACME Finishing
“I can’t stress enough how powerful it was when Bob Sherlock helped us find our Hidden Value. Companies tell themselves, ‘We know our customers, we talk to them all the time.’ But they can’t talk to customers the way Bob can and that’s why the insights are so different. He also guided us through processes that helped us prioritize strategies and build business cases. We got confidence and clarity. Three years later, we’ve implemented our top priorities and grew the business.”
Mike Whiteley, SVP, Hatco Corporation
“We needed, but didn’t have, a compelling story for ‘why choose us’ even though we aren’t the cheapest option. After working with Bob Sherlock, we now have that story and a clear strategy for winning in the markets of the future. As a result, we expect more sales growth with the right prospects. We had a good experience working with Bob, and will use him again to help us with future market challenges.”
Bob Hartline, CEO, Xymox Inc.
Your Next Steps…
If you think Forge the Future might be for you, let’s schedule a 45 to 60 minute meeting to discuss your business, goals, and challenges, and I can answer any questions you may have. At the end of this meeting, we can decide to move to the next step (a detailed proposal for working together, with investment and the outcomes you can expect) — or not.
Set up a time to meet with me.