How to Protect Your Customers during a Merger or Acquisition

As a salesperson, going through a merger or acquisition is stressful enough without having to protect your customers too.

But like it or not, that’s what most of us must go through until the dust finally settles, and you know whether you have a job or not.

When a merger or acquisition occurs, many decisions are being made above your pay grade. Whether it is pricing, products, services, shipping or billing, you pretty much are out of the loop.

Sure, you can voice your objections about price increases, and sound the alarm if product quality is degraded, but really….is anyone going to care?

Is anyone really going to listen?

No.

Upper management has one goal in mind – complete the merger or acquisition as quickly and painlessly as possible so they can get back into the business of earning a profit.

And if that means cracking a few eggs along the way, well that’s the price of doing business.

Your goal? To make sure you’re not one of the eggs being cracked.

Yes, your compensation package may go up or down, and your benefits may be enhanced or reduced, but the one thing you need to always do is this – making damn sure your customers are protected.

So, how do you protect your customers?

1). Be honest – Well, be as sincere as possible without the risk of getting fired. Your customers depend on you to help them ride through the rough patch. It doesn’t matter whether you like some of your customers or not. It doesn’t matter if upper management is treating you like dirt or not. You’re a professional. You must rise above the pain, chaos, and uncertainty and help your clients.

For example, if prices will increase, let your customers know ASAP. If the new owners are planning to replace products or services, let your customers know that too.

It’s better your customers hear bad news from you than from upper management. By getting ahead of negative information, you can hopefully spin it to your advantage. At the bare minimum, you will prevent your customers from getting blindsided.

Better to be honest now with the hope that you might land on your feet somewhere else, then be dishonest and have your professional reputation destroyed.

2). Be a crisis manager – When your customers can’t get straight answers from the billing, shipping or other departments, you better be prepared to step in and resolve problems – quickly. If you do this, your customers will respect you, and hopefully, you will continue to see more orders from them in the future.

Yes, intervening in customer service problems may not be selling per se, but when the shit hits the fan (and it often does in mergers and acquisitions), you don’t have time to play “it’s not my job” games. That kind of attitude could get you fired — fast.

You need to step in quickly, resolve issues, and hope good Karma will rub off on you.

If not, you better be prepared to rub off a lot of lottery tickets to make up for the lost income you will receive walking the streets seeking a new job.

3). Be selling – don’t use the excuse of the chaos of an acquisition or merger to prevent you from doing your main job – selling. It’s easy to play the victim card and blame upper management for poor sales. But here’s the reality that you’re not going to like – you’re already a victim of an acquisition or merger. So, playing the additional victim card isn’t going to save you.

You need to stay focused. Sooner or later (and you hope sooner), things will begin to settle down, and upper management will take a hard look at who the winners and losers are. Make sure you don’t fall into the latter group.

Selling is tough. But it’s tougher when you are going through a merger and acquisition.  I know that from experience because I’ve gone through several mergers and acquisitions in my career. For example, I experienced so much anxiety during one acquisition, my hair was falling out, and I was losing sleep.

Don’t make the same mistake I made. Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay aware of what’s happening. And do whatever you can to protect your customers.

And if all else fails, leave. There are always other sales jobs. But there’s only one of you. Your health and mental state are more important than any job.

Note: If you like this post, please read my book – Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

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