Best Practices for Integrating an Acquisition into Salesforce and Merging Operations
Executing a merger or acquisition is a lot of work, especially when it comes to merging sales operations and customer data. No two companies do things the same way, and you have to deal with both cultural and operational differences.
When it comes to integrating an acquisition into your Salesforce operations, there are a handful of best practices you should follow. It’s all about maintaining the current momentum of both companies, making sure customers are taken care of, and making sure everyone involved knows what’s going on.
Focusing on Sales Integration
During an acquisition, operations across all departments in both companies need to be merged. In some cases that means absorbing the acquired company’s operations into yours; in other cases, you want to truly merge two well-performing operations to get the best out of both.
Of all the departments that need to be integrated, M&A professionals say that sales and marketing are the most challenging to execute. According to a classic McKinsey survey, 27% of professionals report that integrating sales/marketing operations requires the most focus.
That’s because sales is the most critical part of any company’s operations. Any drop in sales, even temporarily, can dramatically affect your company’s bottom line. During the fear and confusion that often surrounds an acquisition, some customers are likely to get nervous and take their business elsewhere. Competitors will seize on this opportunity not only to siphon away your customer base, but also to poach your most productive salespeople. If you don’t handle the merger of the two sales forces properly, your sales – and your business – will suffer.
5 Best Practices for Integrating an Acquisition into Salesforce
To guard against even a temporary drop in sales during the acquisition process, you need to pay attention to the following five best practices for merging your two sales organizations.
Employ Change Management
According to the Harvard Business School, change management involves leveraging change to effect a positive resolution. Change management is essential to successful Salesforce integration and typically includes three phases:
Change management is necessary for both your existing sales organization and the acquired organization. It requires planning, communication, and management skills at all levels and toward all internal staff and external entities, including customers, regulatory authorities, local officials, and the like.
Fully Communicate with Customers and Employees
Communication is an important part of change management. There will be a lot of changes going on, and everyone involved needs to be aware of what’s happening. It’s essential that you share information about the ongoing integration with employees and customers alike. There’s no detail too unimportant to share – that detail is undoubtedly important to someone inside or outside the new company.
If you don’t communicate these details, it’s likely that customers and employees will fill in the blanks with rumors and speculation. This could lead to customer defections and sales staff looking for new positions elsewhere. Err on the side of overcommunication to make sure everyone knows about, and is comfortable with, all the changes in store.
Maintain – and Build – Sales Momentum
It’s not uncommon for sales to slip at least a little during an acquisition. That’s because the business of the acquisition tends to pull senior management’s attention away from the core business. Even the smoothest acquisition will experience a few bumps.
For this reason, you want to make sure that the sales teams in both companies keep the pedal to the metal to maintain their current sales momentum. It’s even better if they can pump up the sales a little, to cover for any sales hiccups during the acquisition process. This pressure on the sales force should start as soon as the acquisition is announced and continue for at least a few months after the deal is closed.
Determine Your Salesforce Organizational Structure
Post-acquisition, you have the option of retaining multiple Salesforce structures or combining them into a single system. While creating a single Salesforce structure reduces administrative complexity and provides a unified source of data for all the lines of business in the new integrated company, the decision should ultimately be based on your new team’s business strategy.
There are four implementation strategies you could pursue, each of which leads to the decision to maintain either a single Salesforce system or multiple structures. These strategies are:
- Unify all lines of business into a single organizational structure, which results from high process integration and standardization
- Coordinate all lines of business to operate within a single structure, which results from high process integration but low process standardization
- Replicate all lines of business into multiple organizational structures, which results from low process integration and high process standardization
- Diversify all lines of business into multiple structures, which results from low process integration and standardization
Review and Prioritize Your Combined Customer Portfolio
When you merge the two sales organizations, you also merge your customer portfolios. When doing so, you’ll want to identify any shared customers, combine duplicate customer records, and clean up any conflicting data.
You’ll also want to closely review your combined customer database with the goal of prioritizing the most important customers. Identify the most profitable and promising customers from both companies, so that they can receive the attention they deserve. You should also identify those customers that are less important, as they may not be worth retaining in the merged company. The reality is that with a larger customer base, not all accounts may be worth a continued investment on your part.
Let Rainmaker Help Integrate Your Next Acquisition into Salesforce
When you’re contemplating your next acquisition, turn to the certified Salesforce experts at Rainmaker. We can help you combine your sales operation with that of the acquired company and integrate your Salesforce platforms. Post-acquisition, we can provide all manner of Salesforce Managed Services to your new and larger company. We’ve been through it all before and can offer the Salesforce guidance you need.