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Advantage Sales and Marketing

Chris Olivier
President, Advantage Sales and Marketing, 2009

“Advantage Sales and Marketing (ASM) is the leading sales and marketing outsourcing company for the retail food industry in the United States. Upon coming on board in 2008, I was specifically tasked by our board of directors to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to guide our more than 1 billion dollar company over the next three years. Ours is a complex company consisting of food brokers, outsourced marketing services for tier one brands, other outsourced I.T., sales, and marketing functions for the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers. Additionally, our executive team is spread out all over the U.S. and we have many stakeholders to this process (a board including private equity firms, customers, many levels of managers and employees, and a variety of consulting partners).

I sought proposals from the likes of McKinsey, Baine, and other regional and national tier one firms. One could easily imagine how critical this decision was for me as a newly hired executive, specifically tasked with the strategic plan development.

In evaluating Brainard Strategy it became clear that Michael and his team could design, lead, and facilitate this complex planning development process at or above the level of some of their global competitors. Additionally, Michael and his team were far easier to do business with, far more flexible, and vastly more pragmatic than the larger firms. Michael and I partnered together through every step of the design of the process, the implementation of the process, and the documents and board presentations. This 6 month process involved over 100 leaders in our company, at least 6 external parties, and meetings that were held in New York, Chicago, and Southern California. Michael pulled a team together that included project managers, executives from our industry, and a variety of consultants who brought both ideas and data, as well as worked with our executives to interpret a massive amount of data and information. In the end we tackled critical strategic decisions in an inclusive and efficient way. Without Michael’s experience with the process, business acumen, and work ethic, we would not have such a robust plan. Our board gave the highest marks relative to our ability to frame strategic choices, evaluate the markets and customer segments we serve, and do so in an inclusive and time sensitive manner. While it is true that our plan will evolve and change as our business does, the core evaluative information and choices are elements that we refer back to and start from when managing the business today. In addition to plan delivery, Michael worked very closely with us to define a goal cascading method that we have implemented and integrated into our performance management system.

Brainard Strategy and Michael enabled us to drive the single best strategic planning process and outcome I have ever experienced. His team’s general business acumen, assessment and facilitation capabilities, and ability to balance process and outcomes are unique.

I strongly recommend Brainard Strategy for executive strategic plan development. His partnership with us remains critical to our success today and he still partners with us on a number of initiatives.”