M&A activities have their share of problems alright. What looks great on paper may not be that great in reality. There is the expectation of the investors, and the business has to perform according to that expectation. There might be cultural differences, or accounting issues. But mostly the problem lies with sales execution. You have to be careful right from when the M&A due diligence process starts, because missteps taken during that time will definitely grow after the transaction closes. Targets get missed when key salespeople leave, and competitors may spread FUD to add to the effect. By the time you are able to sort things out, you have lost people, are in a weaker position with respect to your competition. Basically the momentum is absolutely lost before you can regain it.
The newer technologies prevailing in the market mean that the job of the salespeople has become more difficult than ever before. To remain successful, both the marketing and the sales efforts have to be adjusted. Things have become much more fluid and dynamic than what they had been a few years ago, and experimentation is the order of the day. Without experimenting, you cannot determine what is best for you. Now if you are trying to sell new solutions or are selling to different types of buyers and companies, your job is even harder.
You may have a favorable or an unfavorable market reaction to your M&A transaction. Every business, though, experiences lulls. So there is no reason to worry if you are facing this post-merger. Treat this slow period as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Investigate and determine the root causes. The question is why sales numbers are shrinking – so look at inventory turnover, employee productivity, and other such metrics. The first thing is to identify shortcomings and weaknesses that are affecting your sales figures.
You need to bring in sales consultants, product marketers, and salespeople into your decision-making circle. These people do have a more direct role with the market and your customers. They will bring in different viewpoints and cause less friction than if you only included sales and marketing management in your circle.
Get dedicated brainstorming sessions to happen that will help you to be creative and you will have ideas for new marketing campaigns. Work on having better deals. If things are slow, use the fact to your advantage. In other words, use it in order to negotiate better prices.
If you want to keep your top salespeople on board, do phase in changes over time and minimize disruption on them. And the most critical part is communication. Communicate even if you do not have all the answers and plans in place. Your employees and customers are nervous and you need to take the responsibility.
Sales coaching and group training can be important. Identify what new skills your salespeople need, and let them practice that skill over multiple sessions. This will help them refocus on results they need to achieve. Celebrate small successes. Stay motivated. This will help you turn things around.
Engage early. That is how you can minimize disruption on current sales motions. This is true for marketing as well. Early engagement means you can craft the right story and no longer do you have to see your competitors control the narrative. Now you are in power! Not having all the answers does not matter when you keep your key customers in the loop. They will have more confidence and an enhanced experience if they are engaged and informed.
Let the M&A be just what it is – a corporate strategy. It does not necessarily have to be a traumatic and disruptive event for you or your business. Post-merger integration can be a period of chaos, uncertainty, and tension. Focus on the tasks you have to do. The idea is to grow – so it is best to embrace the integration process.
Use creative thinking and plan ahead. It is natural that you will get stressed out if you do not see sales coming in for a considerable period of time. But you cannot afford to panic. Tailor your approach in a way that helps you maximize the productivity. When sales are down, the best thing is to prepare for future success.