Having gone through many successful sales team integrations following acquisitions or mergers, I’ve compiled a must-do list for managers facing the same challenge.
While leaders have no shortage of requirements and transitions to prioritize when a company is growing through M&A, I suggest concentrating on maximizing revenue synergies. This is critical to positioning the organization for future success.
A few of the many challenges I’ve seen leaders face when the ink dries on the purchase agreement include:
One of the best places to start is to conduct a thorough assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the newly acquired business. Usually, this is done during the due diligence stage of the transaction. However, the economic climate may have changed since deal talks began, so avoid blindly following the initial assessment if it is months old. Do not start chopping up and reorganizing the business until you know exactly how to integrate the new business’s operations, people, and company culture.
These days, leaders can no longer discount the significance of honest, open communication with their employees. PwC’s 2022 Global Landscape Study identified six drivers to retain and attract top talent, and effective communication was a key element in each instance. Constant dialogue is crucial because a merger or acquisition will cause anxiety among the workforce as employees worry about what their role will look like going forward – or if it will even exist. Leaders must share as much information as possible with their teams (and on a regular basis) to avoid unnecessary confusion and stress. One of the last things you want to happen is to lose the newly acquired business’s most productive salespeople because of a lack of two-way communication.
One of the most valuable assets in a transaction is the acquired company’s product or service portfolio. To help ensure successful integration, leaders must chart a clear path to creating value with the combined portfolio. For example, when Integra Optics was acquired by us at Infinite Electronics, they were working with a Tier 1 wireless carrier with very little success. Even though we were in the middle of integrating Integra’s business, we were able to leverage our existing relationships in the Transtector/PolyPhaser brands to position Integra to win a substantial opportunity and sell additional products to the carrier to help it meet its aggressive 5G network deployment.
I’ve experienced a number of mergers and acquisitions in my 20-plus years in sales, and I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure everyone on the sales team buys into what success looks like post-integration. Where is the company heading? How can the sales team help it get there? Managers should have these conversations with their team face-to-face to be most effective. This cannot be an afterthought. The combined sales-and-marketing team must be on the same page and clearly communicate a unified value prop to new and existing customers.
No transaction goes according to plan, so be ready to adjust. Don’t get bogged down crossing off items on a transition/integration checklist. When hiccups happen – and they will – make sure to find a solution quickly to keep things running as smoothly and strongly as possible during the transition period. Successful leaders embrace change and see it as an opportunity to improve the business.
Buying or merging with another business is an exciting but complex process that can easily veer off course. By following these steps, leaders will be in a better position to create significant shareholder value for the combined enterprise and – just as important – open new career opportunities for sales-and-marketing team members to help the company continue to grow in the future.
Jason Koshy serves as global vice president of sales at Infinite Electronics, a leading global supplier of electronic connectivity components. With more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience, he has successfully overseen the integration of multiple sales teams following company acquisitions.