Guest Column | December 7, 2018

Navigating The M&A Waters

By Patrick Doherty, Flexential

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The global colocation data center industry is predicted to grow to 54.8 billion by 2020 (from $30.9 billion in 2016), according to a recent report by Research and Markets. This massive growth is fueled in part by merger & acquisition (M&A) activity among the leading data center providers: Digital Realty Trust, Equinix, CyrusOne, and, of course, the acquisition of ViaWest by Peak 10 to form Flexential. In fact, Synergy Research Group estimated that  more than $20 billion was invested in M&A deals throughout 2017, making it a landmark year for M&A investments. I imagine that by the end of this year, the industry will have established yet another milestone in spending.

Companies exploring M&A opportunities should first and foremost ensure they have the right leadership team in place, and that they are aligned on short- and long-term goals. Once this is in place, and the logistical discussions begin, one of the first considerations should be what impact the deal will have to the sales teams from both companies. Condensing or re-structuring sales teams post-deal can be extremely challenging – not just for product education, but also from a culture standpoint. Having spent the last year working through these transitional challenges with the Flexential team, I’d love to share some key takeaways in the hope that they help another company adapt more easily.

  1. Embrace The Need For Change, Don’t Shy Away From It

Nothing is ever as easy or seamless as it looks on paper. There are always hiccups – some more jarring than others – and that’s okay. Even two corporations with similar sales teams and aligned business interests will have dissimilarities to work through as they become one team, especially from a cultural perspective. The executive team should proactively seek out discussions with key members of each sales team to fully understand activities for each team, and to weed out redundancies between the teams. For example, are they both targeting the same prospect? If so, which team has the stronger relationship and is more likely to close the deal? Or, what worked well with your old structure, but may not be a strength in your new one? Keep having these discussions with these teams to see how you’re progressing over time and understand that new issues will almost definitely come up. Accepting the reality of shifting best practices will bring the company’s priorities into focus.

  1. Create A New Sales Mantra

Major company transitions put a huge amount of stress on the sales teams. They are usually asked to learn about new product offerings, master the new company language, work under new management (and their new processes), perhaps manage new people, and more. But perhaps most importantly, it can be difficult to know how success is defined within the new company. A smart leadership team will make it a priority to create a new sales mantra and be explicit about performance expectations and how to succeed within the company. This will be critical for getting the most out of your sales teams during the transition period.

  1. Celebrate Your Integration Milestones

When you meet an important objective or cross a major organizational integration milestone, take the time to recognize the work that went into it. Morale is a tremendous driver of progress throughout any transition period and is extremely important for your sales team. This will help define the new organization culture and grow camaraderie through the shared experience. In addition, moments of achievement also can serve as moments of reflection: What served the process well? What can be improved moving forward?

About The AuthorMSPi Patrick Doherty, Flexential

Patrick Doherty is Chief Revenue Officer for Flexential where he leads sales, sales operations, solutions engineering, channel, and commercial management, and has his finger on the true pulse of Flexential’s revenue growth investments. He is responsible for results across the entire revenue process. He joined the company in 2017. Prior to joining Flexential, Doherty held leadership positions at a variety of organizations including OnX Enterprise Solutions, Unisys Corporation, and Sungard Availability Services.Pat received his B.S. in Marketing from Saint Joseph's University.

About Flexential

In January, Flexential will celebrate the first anniversary of our new company brand. While the past year has been full of challenges, it has been extremely rewarding as well. Our customers and partners now have access to a national platform of products, a national go-to-market capability, and more flexible program structure offering multiple agreement and payment options. By implementing best practices, culled from both companies, we’ve been able to reach these milestones and lay the groundwork for a successful future.