Consistency is Key to Aligning Sales Teams After an Acquisition
Achieving Consistency is Difficult. It’s Also Critical to Success.
However, we live in a time when this truth presents an uneasy contrast to the popular notion that “disruptive innovation” is the way forward. Disruptive innovation has become the most pervasive business topic of the decade. Its novelty has prompted unquestioned loyalty. The problem: a strategy that may work for the few has become an aspiration for the many, but it shouldn’t.
“Disruptive” enthusiasts often value strategies based on how far they deviate from established practices rather than on their merits. Moreover, “disruption” has become a catch-all for originality and boldness, despite concerns that people will “twist it and use it to justify whatever they wanted to do in the first place,” as explained by academic Clayton M. Christensen, the first to publish on the theory.
The fact remains: results come from consistency.
Consistency is key to aligning sales teams after an acquisition. However, achieving this consistency challenges sales professionals to adopt new methods and practices. Here, we look at ways in which a sales leader can create alignment so that everyone on the field is using the same playbook.
Use Collaboration to Create Buy-In
Driving consistent selling takes time. Therefore, sales leaders need to be sure that the destination is the right one. In the stages immediately following an acquisition, sales professionals need to come together and determine what strategy they want to embrace. Essentially, the question that the group must answer is “Who do we want to be?” Time spent at this stage will pay dividends later. Involvement from all sales professionals is critical; each person needs a say if the sales leader is to achieve widespread buy-in. The goal is not to form an “average” of all the opinions at the table. Rather, the intent should be to provide a forum in which everyone has a voice. The goal is to walk away with a sales strategy that will guide all subsequent decisions.
Draft a Customer Experience Framework
The customer experience framework builds on the sales strategy determined in step one. That is, drafting the desired customer experience is a more detailed process. At this stage, leaders need to define each customer touchpoint. This begins by understanding the current customer and determining if they are the appropriate target. After identifying the target customer, leaders must focus on improvement opportunities. This is where the expanded capabilities of a post-M&A company can be leveraged for meaningful results. Finally, leaders should list the metrics that they will use to measure success and settle on a schedule for revisiting these measurements. This step is critical because customer profiles will differ across the merged companies.
Use "Force Multipliers" to Boost Engagement
An employee’s personal achievement leads to greater engagement. Employee engagement, in turn, is a consistent driver of success for businesses. Therefore, post-M&A companies should embrace this dynamic by helping employees capitalize on new opportunities
that come with an expanded product offering and a wider customer base. A larger company, as a result of a merger, will bolster resources for the sales team. Sales leaders should encourage sales professionals to take advantage and help facilitate the use of these “force multipliers.” These are tools that enable people to do more with a relatively unchanged amount of effort. A prime example is cross-selling. With a more diverse product offering, sales professionals will have more opportunities to expand into the “whitespace” of their accounts. Leverage these advantages to boost engagement.
Focus the Communication
Communication, especially in the upheaval of an M&A transition, is critical. However, sales professionals, eager to close, need to be in front of customers. Therefore, sales leaders should ration and focus communication with meetings that get straight the point. Each meeting should have a schedule and clearly stated goals. Additionally, leaders should share these details before the meeting. Doing so signals respect for the sales professional’s time. While communication styles across companies differ, there are a few core standards that everyone appreciates like brevity, clarity, and relevance. Consider all three when developing a communication cadence.
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Right-Size, Long-Term Expectations
Sales leaders need to remain realistic about driving consistency. Aligning teams and practices is a gradual process. Too often, leaders overestimate the short-term impacts. In reality, however, “Only 27 percent of acquisitions are able to help a company grow faster than its historical rate or keep pace with its peers,” according to Deloitte. Beating these odds requires a repeatable process that builds on small but regular gains. Additionally, leaders should communicate this fact to the sales professionals. Allow time for revising and reshaping the approach as overarching strategies take shape.
Consistency is about more than boosting sales. Consistency matters because without it, sales leaders will never have a clear idea of what is working and what isn’t. While disruptive innovation chases what people think will be different in the future, consistency embraces what won’t change: the value that comes from a customer focus.
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