When two businesses merge, the new company's success often depends on how well the go-to-market plan is executed. The combined company inherits the two businesses’ customers, products, and respective sales and marketing channels. If not planned properly, the combined efforts can lead to customer confusion and lost sales. This article goes over go-to-market integration planning, featuring James Harris, Principal, Corporate Development Integration at Google.
"When you're doing a transaction, make sure you're not thinking about what's best for the customers, but you've actually listened to what they want." - James Harris
Go-to-market integration planning should start with the deal thesis and customer needs. Customers are significant to any business. The goal of integration planning should be to improve the current value of the company's offerings to customers. Three essential functions must be aligned and committed to achieving those projections: the sales, product, and engineering teams.
Always confirm assumptions during diligence. Create a detailed financial model to help the team envision the deal's goals from a financial perspective. Ensure that the goals are achievable and not too complex. If the goals seem too complicated and the company is unlikely to achieve them, walk away from the deal.
Communicate the plans to both the existing sales team and inbound team. Collaborate with the acquired sales operations team to identify sales readiness. The acquired sales operations team knows their customers and products better than anyone, and acquirers should consider their opinion on the go-to-market integration plan. Every decision must be geared towards creating a delightful customer experience while also generating revenue.
Identify what the sales motion would look like and any materials needed to help sell the product. Understanding how the sales team will look post-close will reveal its impact on the back-end office. Just be careful of the gun-jumping rule. You can plan all you want, but you cannot execute.
Do not sunset a product immediately if it's away from the company's core. Instead, leave the business standalone. Take time to understand the business line first before sunsetting and integrating it into an existing product. However, let everyone know that integration will eventually happen. The acquired company can misunderstand being standalone as a permanent situation and will not be happy when integration finally occurs.