How Acquisitions Aren’t Always Good for Clients
New acquisition, same old story
What happens when a company that you’ve partnered with gets swallowed up by an industry giant? One with thousands of clients and hundreds of thousands of employees? Typically, the bigger company issues a press release describing what attracted it to the smaller company. A senior exec says glowing things about the acquired company’s unique way of doing things and reassures clients that it will honor that uniqueness. A leader from the smaller company gets quoted on how the bigger company will extend its reach and give it more resources to do what it has always done, only better.
If you’ve been through the process, you know what happens next. After the handshakes and press releases, the bigger company usually decides that a number of the smaller company’s “most valuable assets” are redundant and frees them to pursue other opportunities. What’s left of the smaller company starts doing business like the bigger company. If you’re a fan of Star Trek TNG (and c’mon, who isn’t?), you know that when someone gets assimilated by the Borg, they end up walking, talking, and dressing like every other Borg. It’s inevitable.
The impact on clients
Resistance really is futile. And the assimilation process affects more than just the acquired company’s employees. It can also change things for clients. At Televerde, we’ve seen how acquisitions have changed our market, and not always for the better. Clients of the acquired firm can suddenly find themselves dealing with a big company with big org charts and overhead—a bureaucracy with the weight to dictate how you will do business with them, not vice versa. Basic interactions become more complex. Billable hours — not client satisfaction — define the engagement.
In addition to greater cost and complexity, innovation and flexibility can slip through the cracks with an acquisition. For companies like Televerde, innovation and flexibility are the essential ingredients. They’re the secret sauce that clients need in a world that can—and does—change overnight. Mega companies are battleships that take a long time to change course. They aren’t usually nimble enough for the challenges that clients face. Clients need something more like a speedboat.
Why bigger isn’t always better for innovation
For example, think about the traditional marketing/sales funnel favored by a lot of big companies. Leads go in, some get qualified, and a subset eventually become customers. Job done. Except that the job shouldn’t be done. Televerde sees the marketing/sales cycle as more like a continuous loop—not a funnel. It has multiple entry and exit points. A lead that doesn’t immediately become a client shouldn’t be abandoned. It just means they’re at a different stage of their journey. The cycle doesn’t always progress from A to B to C in a predetermined way. It’s personalized for every client. Also, the cycle doesn’t end when a prospect becomes a customer. It’s just beginning. The relationship needs to be nurtured over time, because a loyal and longtime customer can be more valuable than a handful of quick wins.
Another evolution we see is in the order of operations in the Sales and Marketing relationship. Our clients tell us that they need Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success to work in tighter alignment. Why? In this online era, 70% of buyers have completely scoped out their needs on their own before they contact a sales representative, and 44% have zeroed-in on specific solutions before engaging a seller. That means that getting the market and marketing right is more important than ever to fuel Sales and Customer Success. You can’t afford the complexity that comes with operational silos pursuing different agendas on the journey to an excellent customer experience and advocacy. You also can’t afford a longer, harder sales cycles, lost competitive advantage, and wasted budget.
There’s a better way
The customer experience is the new competitive battlefield for companies and revenue is king. At Televerde, we specialize in helping companies create the prospect and client experiences that create connections and drive revenue. But we also believe that your experience working with us is just as important. We don’t see and treat clients as just another account. Your needs drive our approach. We collaborate, we don’t dictate.