Getting Culture Right: Five Lessons for Merger Success in the Sales Department

Health Industry Hub | April 10, 2019 |
[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Imagine your sales team was working at top speed, well aware that Q4 was right around the corner, when the CEO announced the acquisition of a formidable competitor. A sort of panic sets in: this meant merging two sales teams that had been accustomed to going head to head.

This situation presents a challenge precisely because each team is so effective – and not surprisingly, so competitive. How do you successfully integrate sales professionals who have their own way of doing things, and two teams with their own culture? It isn’t easy. It takes an equal amount of operational organisation, resource alignment, empathy, patience and psychology – and an understanding that it’s a continual work in progress.

That isn’t always the way it goes. According to the International Journal of Applied Studies, the largest contributor to merger and acquisition failure is people – specifically, a lack of effective communication between them, and an inability to successfully traverse cultural differences. Says the study author, “…the employee must be pivotal. Any attempt to sideline the employee…will spell doom for the new setup.”

So, how do you avoid doom?

1. Have a plan and commit to its faithful execution

That well-worn adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies, without question, when it comes to merging sales teams. Developing a point-by-point operational plan that outlines every minute detail of an acquisition and merger is critical – and worth the substantial effort. Invest on the front end and you’ll spend less time fixing things during the integration process.

2. Identify cultural patterns in each team and evolve a new culture that brings the “best of” together

Company cultures can vary widely, are typically formed at the top, and can be difficult to change once ingrained. One company may have a vastly different approach to how it hires its sales and customer success talent, educates its teams, determines sales goals and expectations, and manages performance. Further, it’s a good idea to be sensitive to team pride, and if that can be preserved in the evolving culture.

The key to shifting cultural patterns lies in determining what produces the most positive results for the newly integrated company as a whole, acknowledging the best “heritage” aspects, and applying these practices effectively across the entire department. A new culture should feel more like evolution than hitting a reset button.

3. Share tools and processes for success

When a company has invested in tools and workflows that speed processes and make everyone’s lives easier, you should train the other sales team as quickly as you can on those tools. At the same time, the other sales team may have processes and programs of their own valuable to both teams, so plan on sharing information in both directions. By doing so, you assure the newly acquired team they’re valued – and at the same time expected – to get up to speed on software and processes.

4. Choose when to combine the teams and when to keep them separate

Some might think the best way to get two teams on the same page is to simply combine them and let each individual find their own way. But that’s not necessarily the right approach when the two teams are on different learning curves. Similar to educating young students, you don’t want the advanced learner to disengage out of boredom, nor the slower learner to skip important steps because the pace is too fast.

The key is to give each team some space in advance of a full-scale integration. Carefully choose which areas of integration to initially combine, and which to keep separate. Hold daily sales huddles locally for several months following the acquisition, until no purpose is served by maintaining two identities.

5. Find common ground in a new identity

One of the biggest challenges of the acquisition is getting two sales and customer success teams that had previously viewed one another as “the enemy” to transition beyond that mentality. Not surprisingly, expecting bitter rivals to suddenly hug it out would take some doing. Respect has to be earned, and it isn’t freely offered. Social settings help this part of the challenge. Bringing everyone together for the annual sales kickoff can deliver on its “bonding” promise.

The End Game

Getting deeply driven and competitive sales teams on the same page isn’t easy, but by avoiding common missteps and forging common bonds, one emerges as a stronger, smarter, singular team – a whole greater than the sum of its parts.


About the author

About the author

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam luctus finibus scelerisque. Nunc bibendum ipsum sed augue fringilla fringilla. Nullam at consectetur leo. Praesent viverra rutrum porta. Quisque vitae mi vel purus vulputate tincidunt. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Suspendisse et mi quis nisi rhoncus feugiat at ac tellus. Sed aliquam sodales nulla ac auctor. Sed pretium lobortis purus accumsan ullamcorper. Phasellus sodales vel odio in lobortis. Duis maximus sagittis bibendum. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc dictum tincidunt ipsum in vestibulum. Donec ut sem consectetur, aliquam quam vitae, pharetra orci. Nam egestas non velit eu rhoncus. Duis congue neque non lacus tincidunt porta. Vestibulum ultricies pulvinar sem, molestie congue dui aliquet non.
  • Ut imperdiet leo id lorem fermentum consectetur.
  • Ut vitae orci et dui varius tincidunt.
  • Ut id magna non libero vestibulum pharetra ac faucibus nulla.
Aliquam erat volutpat. Vestibulum vitae varius diam. Nulla eget congue ante. Nunc ullamcorper sagittis augue vel dictum. Mauris finibus nibh ut pulvinar auctor. Vestibulum ut faucibus nisi. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Quisque porta tortor ac justo malesuada elementum. Nulla tellus ante, cursus nec ex sit amet, suscipit bibendum arcu. Duis posuere orci dui, et mollis enim dictum at. Sed ullamcorper, sapien ut vulputate viverra, sem purus porttitor tellus, nec mattis mauris ligula sed risus. Nulla sagittis id ipsum eu mattis. Link to full profile

Human Resources

Human Resource Management - MSD revealed as finalist in Australian HR Awards

MSD revealed as finalist in Australian HR Awards

Health Industry Hub | July 13, 2020 |

The Australian HR Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements of the country’s top Human Resources leaders, companies and teams. MSD reveals […]


News & Trends - Medical Technology

MedTech News - Radiologists report a significant drop in diagnostic imaging services during COVID-19

Radiologists report a significant drop in diagnostic imaging during COVID-19

Health Industry Hub | July 13, 2020 |

MedTech News: Clinical radiologists are concerned that patients are delaying their required imaging procedures and encourage people to continue their […]



Medical Pharma Biotech MedTech - First-of-its-kind liver cancer research

First-of-its-kind liver cancer research

Health Industry Hub | July 13, 2020 |

Medical News: Primary liver cancer patients will benefit from a new research project in Western Australia that will apply the […]


News & Trends - Biotechnology

Biotech News - Australian researchers' cancer vaccine shows early promise

Australian researchers’ cancer vaccine shows early promise

Health Industry Hub | July 13, 2020 |

Biotech News: Mater University of Queensland Researchers have achieved publication in the highly-ranked journal, Clinical and Translational Immunology detailing their […]