People are the heart of every business, and when it comes to M&A, tackling the human side of things can make all the difference between continued profits and potentially massive losses. Learn how Deloitte Digital helped Verizon Media successfully integrate two sales teams by putting their people first.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have been an integral business strategy since, well, business began. Today, however—especially amidst an economy heavily impacted by a global pandemic—successful M&A takes more than just money. From data privacy and management to leadership changes to customer and employee retention, the bar continues to rise for the level of care that companies must take when tackling the typically thorny issues associated with the M&A process.

As one of the largest transformations that any organization might go through, M&A is generally not structured with the customer in mind—yet this is one of the biggest areas of impact. Against an uncertain economic backdrop, taking a customer-first approach to the M&A process can mean the difference between resiliency and potentially massive loss.

As a market leader in M&A and Salesforce transformations, Deloitte Digital has learned that successful organizational migration takes a thoughtful, coordinated approach. To help companies avoid M&A process pitfalls, we’ve teamed up with Salesforce on How to Integrate Two Sales Teams: A Mergers & Acquisitions Playbook, in which we share guidance from James Commons—who leads the Sales Technology and Operations team at Verizon Media, a company connecting 800 million people worldwide and generating $8 billion in revenue.

In this co-authored playbook, James boils down his experience successfully merging enterprise sales teams at AOL and Yahoo! into considerations every leader should bear in mind when transforming their business—with practical tips along the way.

Establish your goals

Joining two companies often means two sales teams—and potentially overlapping target clients. So, how do you sort that out while assuring that all existing agreements are met? In the case of AOL and Yahoo!, James’ team established three goals: prevent revenue breakage, create a seamless experience, and reduce operating costs. How you establish and achieve your goals will differ based on your unique business—but no matter what, your customer should be in the center of your activities.

Think about: Employee CRM access, selling processes, technology tools, and the back office.

Prioritize the human experience

People are the most important resource in any acquisition, but also one of the most challenging to manage. And the last thing you want is for them to leave. James and his team worked with Deloitte Digital to provide organizational clarity and identify a leadership team. “Uncertainty kills revenue,” said James. “If people don’t know which team they’re going to be reporting to, or which accounts they’re going to be assigned, they have no incentive….”

Think about: Finding ways to drive revenue, providing reassurance to customers, areas to innovate, and planning out your new leadership team.

Integrate into one tech stack

With your goals and leaders in place, it’s time to focus on technology. For James’ team, that meant merging into a single Salesforce instance. Working with Deloitte Digital, that effort involved three key steps: determining data architecture, focusing on account structure, and simplifying and standardizing processes.
Think about: Approaches for data cleanup, strategic consolidation, daily workflows, and removing silos to ensure data consistency for customers.
Verizon Media successfully merged AOL and Yahoo! because of a relentless focus on people, focusing on high sales productivity and customer loyalty. With the know-how from Deloitte Digital, plus technology from Salesforce, the team was able to get everything done effectively.
No matter the economic circumstances, business mergers and acquisitions will always bring with them a myriad of challenges. Yet, when you get into the nuts and bolts of what each sales team wants, you may find—like James’ team—more similarities than differences! Taking a customer-first approach can help teams focus, getting the right people and governance in place for a smoother transition.
Ready to take a deeper dive? Download the full playbook to get started!
Julie Miller is a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP and the National leader for the Communications Service Provider Sub-Sector for US Consulting.  Julie also leads Deloitte’s US Consulting Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment (TME) Salesforce practice and leads Deloitte’s MyPath to Work offering for the Telecommunications, Media and Technology (TMT) industry.  She has more than 20 years of experience consulting to TMT companies on transformation programs with a focus on digital transformation, driving cross channel customer engagement and enabling cloud based solutions.