Clashing cultures, mounting confusion, declining morale – typical scenarios in a corporate merger. And that’s just the squishy stuff. After helping a number of marketing and sales teams through their mergers – on both the client and agency sides of the business – I’ve seen a trend: when the going gets tough, the tough tackle the big problems (region alignment, product shuffling, compensation structures) and overlook the obvious. But sticking to five basic best practices can help you keep focused on what’s most important – growing sales – while avoiding some of the fear and confusion that comes along with a major change. What to remember:
1. Establish presence and credibility immediately.
Whether you have a marketing team, or a formalized sales enablement group, step up. Introduce yourself and identify what you can and will do for the new sales team right off the bat. According to our proprietary research here at Leopard, less than half of sales representatives are even familiar with the term “sales enablement” and few equate sales enablement with any strategic initiatives. So don’t assume people will know the value of what you offer – they may not even be aware of it.
2. Consider culture.
Even if the company you merge with already has a marketing or sales enablement presence, don’t assume they appreciate it. Our same Leopard research study found 25% of sales people create their own materials “somewhat or very often,” and another 34% say they alter materials on “most sales” or every sale” because they don’t find marketing assets relevant or useful. You can create a new culture of openness and understanding.
3. Don’t assume one size fits all.
Mergers typically happen to fill strategic gaps and expand product offerings. So you may have to combine a highly experienced sales team that takes a consultative approach with aggressive product sellers driven to get a quick deal. One size rarely fits all when you create your sales and training materials. Take time to factor in different seller personas and their challenges or objections as you build a new selling strategy, and then tailor your tools to sellers across the continuum.
4. Make your materials accessible.
This may seem like the most obvious rule of them all, but research shows that over 40% of marketing assets created aren’t used by sales—primarily because sales teams can’t find them.
Follow the golden rule of sales: Simplicity is king. Find one easily accessible place to put your information, organize it and keep it updated. For example, sellers love CDW’s award-winning GetIT sales enablement portal. Your sales team has a lot to learn with new products, territories and customers. Don’t make them struggle with the easy stuff.
5. Comply with the need for speed.
You can’t establish your credibility, foster a collaborative and supportive culture, and begin addressing variances in sales strategy without providing consistent, cohesive product and process information immediately. Your sales force isn’t going to get a grace period, so you don’t get one either.
Corporate strategy publication Interfaces tells the story of a firm hired to merge a sales force of 15,000 at 40 global affiliates within a two-month period. One integration plan and over 300 meetings later, the company met its goal, and became the first in its industry to actually increase market share during a merger. That newly merged company credited speed. “To be fast is more important than to be accurate,” they said in the study.
While you should strive for both, proving you’ll provide for the teams right off the bat could have the biggest impact of all. Getting back to the basics—and getting them right—is a great way to lay the foundation for bigger sales and better relationships with your newly unified force.