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Picking the Problem Solving Path

As a CMO or CRO, you've all been there. You have identified, or have been tasked with, an ugly problem or opportunity and the bandwidth to take it on is limited. I have been through it in large and small organizations. In large institutions, the lean is almost always to hire a Big 3 firm with a long engagement. In small companies, it might be to hire a coach or agency. But the typical lean may not be the right solution for you.

Below is a set of questions and outline I would often use when thinking how to tackle the problem and how I might approach an RFI/RFP if going externally for help.

  1. Have we tried to solve this same question internally before? - If Yes, you likely want to look outside your organization for help. - If No, what in your stack can be deprioritized? If you can't answer that, put together a framework for the C-Suite that illuminates the resource problem and have them collectively decide what is most important.
  2. Is this problem strategic or tactical?- Strategic problems often require exponentially more resources from areas beyond your span of control. It might be easy to prioritize your stack but when you start meddling in someone else's, it can get ugly. You might want to have an unbiased party do that work as it removes emotion.- Tactical problems can typically be solved through resource reallocation however, if the answer is "we need everything right now" there are thousands of tactical solution providers out there that can operate as staff augmentation to you. Ask your network for recommendations.
  3. Even if I can free up resource, do I have the right resources to perform this work?- If the answer is no, you need to look at what would be the most effective approach using a Build/Buy analysis. Is it faster, better and cheaper for me to hire the skills I am missing in-house or contract an advisory firm to tackle it.

If you have answered these questions and it points to needing outside help, you need to write a brief to help guide your partner selection process. Full disclosure, I briefly ran supply chain for a rather large company and what I found was that folks seeking solution providers were either lazy or thought that their procurement function had a crystal ball. The brief outline is just to ensure you are talking to the right people and is a way for you to evaluate their skills and experience as it relates to your problem.

  1. What does your company do?
  2. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  3. Do you have a hypothesis on the problem?
  4. What data you have to help detail or solve this problem (consumer data, research, purchase behavior, industry data, etc)
  5. What is your timeline?- Big firms take big time. Small firms or fractional executives are more nimble.
  6. What are your (or your C-Suite/Board's) expectations?- Do not underestimate the power of putting this on paper. If you were explicitly told by the CEO that they want a social influencer campaign in market to address this, no matter how crazy that is, put it on paper. Your solution provider will know they need to answer that "request" for you so you do not appear to be ignoring what was asked.
  7. What is your budget?
  8. How turnkey does this solution need to be?- This is probably the most critical question to answer upfront if you want a successful engagement. Hiring an outside partner can still be a resource drain. You have to determine upfront if you need a fully turnkey partner or are you willing and able to invest significant resource getting them up to speed. Do they intimately know my industry and products? Will they hit the ground running? How involved will you and your team need to be to get things moving? Solution providers need to know this as well. They don't want to waste time with your RFP/RFI if they can't meet your needs.

If this was helpful but you have more questions, send me a note or grab time on my calendar to discuss https://www.mahdlo.net/jim-tax

About Mahdlo Executive Advisors

At Mahdlo, we believe sales and marketing are key investments for achieving long-term, sustainable growth. Our mission is to revolutionize these areas, bringing innovative strategies to diverse sectors, from software to finance.

Who We Work With

Lower to mid-market CEOs and founders that believe their product or service has far greater growth potential than what the P&L shows. When they push, sales and marketing point fingers at each other.

Why Choose Us?

We start with an average engagement proposal of four months. We outline a strategy and plan including quick wins within that timeframe. And apparently we do a decent job as 90+% of our clients sign on for longer engagements. If that isn’t a low-risk proposition, I’m not sure what is.

How we do it

We develop innovative & sustainable strategies tailored to ensure long-lasting growth.  Our collective experience spans all industries across all channels. Proven success from financial services to retail to SaaS and everything in between.  We focus on delivering profitable growth by maximizing your Sales and Marketing investments and prioritizing through the ROI lens.

Example Services Include:

Strategic Planning: Aligning Sales and Marketing with your KPIs. Shared objectives drive results.

Market Penetration: Innovative approaches to expand your reach and know what works with whom.

Brand Positioning & Customer Engagement: Building your brand, value proposition to accelerate growth and create customer loyalty.

Connect with Mahdlo Executive Advisors to transform your growth trajectory with strategies that promise not just short-term wins, but a legacy of success.