Last year we worked with a customer, we’ll call them Unknown Inc., who was approached for a potential acquisition. The owner was looking to take more of a back seat within the business and had put some feelers out to see if an acquisition or merger was in the cards. Ultimately he wanted to play golf, travel and enjoy a semi-retirement while remaining a reasonable shareholder.
Unknown Inc. had some positive conversations with a potential buyer and (almost) everything looked great. The business had lots of strong partnerships, loyal customers and was generating a positive cashflow. What’s not to love right? Well, apparently something was indeed missing and the potential buyer decided not to move forward with the new partnership. The deal was scrapped and the owner was back to square one. So what happened?
(And don’t worry, there’s a happy ending!)
What was missing?
There are many factors that play into a successful acquisition: Sales, Market Penetration, Intellectual Property, Customer List, Assets, People, Brand Awareness, and NOW – Digital Maturity.
Unknown Inc. was primarily successful due to its strong partner network. What the potential buyer came to realize however were that two things stood in the way of them seamlessly taking over the business.
The first challenge was that the business thrived on relationships. Unfortunately, those relationships were tightly controlled by the current owner. Without him, the business would need to rely on a good system of records in order to keep those relationships going. Without that, the owner was the glue that held the entire operation together.
And second, this is where digital maturity became an issue. Companies are purchased every day for their customer lists and partnerships, but that information needs to be robust, reliable and easily consumed by the new owners. In short: your systems need to be well maintained and interconnected. You need to enter information into a reliable database, and ideally information should only be entered once to be shared across systems. In particular, customer and partner information need to be stored and kept up to date. Otherwise, what are they buying?
To quote the potential buyer, “We can’t mine your emails and outlook contacts to make sense of how to maintain your partnerships and loyal customers. Your operations just aren’t mature enough for us to take over. It’s just too much effort and risk for us. ”
So, how do you fix it?
Enter JumpGroove. While we broadly use the title “Digital Maturity”, our mission ultimately was to help Unknown Inc. transform their business to a more automated, and importantly self sustaining, operating model. To do this, we needed to bring in the right technology and training to transform the way they did business.
We started with a complete audit of all systems to identify gaps and areas where an upgrade was required. In this case, existing systems were fine, but a CRM was an essential add-on. We brought a CRM into the mix and began the process of moving all customer records into a single, unified platform.
- We connected the billing system to the CRM to eliminate the duplication of customer records between systems.
- Quotes and invoices were no longer managed in spreadsheets. Everything was built and delivered from the CRM where it was connected directly to the customer record.
- All emails, calls and meetings were tracked to each customer or lead. This not only provided clarity between sales and service, but it also gave them a history of customer activity whenever they needed it.
- The website was also plugged into the mix. All web forms sent leads directly into the CRM which kicked off a workflow to assign those leads to the right sales reps. Customers went from waiting hours for a call to minutes.
It’s important to mention that CRM systems do take work and they certainly can’t automate everything. But, when you contrast a more rigorous record keeping methodology with the insanity that came from sales, servicing, project management, billing and customer service all working independently with verbal shouts across the office as the only link between them, you’ll definitely see the light. Manual offline work causes a lot more chaos than it’s worth!
What about people?
Going digital can be hard for some organizations. In the case of Unknown Inc, many of their employees had been with the companies for 10 years or more and were used to doing things the old fashioned way.
Our client was all-in on doing digital, so executive support was there to drive this initiative forward. Mandatory trainings were held and employees were required to adopt the new tools. Bonuses and performance were tied to its use and generally speaking everyone got on board. In a very few cases, employees who weren’t willing to keep accurate CRM records were packaged out and replaced with new hires who were used to working digitally.
Fast forward to today, one year later, and Unknown Inc is thriving. Their systems are working together as they should and the team is much more efficient as a whole. Leads are never dropped and any rep with the right permissions can learn anything they need to know about an existing customer before picking up the phone. They are faster, smarter and generating more cash flow as a result.
The best news of course, is that acquisition talks are back under way. A new potential buyer is interested in the business and it looks like the owner of Unknown Inc. will be working on his golf game very soon.
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