Every company, regardless of size, location and product line, struggles with integration after a merger or acquisition. Two key elements – your people and your competition – can derail an otherwise smooth process if you don't pay them enough attention, according to Mike Marks in Distribution M&A Playbook, pt. 3: Integration Best Practices.
The customer’s value proposition for the distributor is often the individual sales rep that calls on them. Figure out who your A-players are and manage them so they won’t leave.
It's likely that not everyone in the company will be happy with the acquisition, and they may engage in subtle sabotage. Don't let this happen. Identify these individuals quickly and, if necessary, terminate them, Marks says.
In addition to personnel challenges, keep in mind that your competitors will see an opportunity to aggressively attack your weak spot when you are going through an acquisition. Don’t wait for it to happen. Anticipate and develop your response to minimize the impact. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Make sure you're maintaining day-to-day operations at the same high level or you'll risk losing loyal customers. For example, your competitors may target your smaller customers in the belief that you won't be paying enough attention to them during the transition as you focus on your larger customers.
There are several points during an integration where shareholder value can be built or destroyed. A transaction can always be made to look good on a spreadsheet and during the initial presentations. But those presentations "always miss" when it comes time to evaluate the deal two or three years down the line.
Don't let your deal be derailed by losing sight of the players – internally and externally – who could sabotage the long-term results.
Read more about how to create a strategy for smooth integration in Distribution M&A Playbook, pt. 3: Integration Best Practices