Merging 3 Companies And Keeping Sales Figures
The company had bought 2 businesses, doubling its team, and I would say tripling (or more) its challenges. Management decided to create a new entity that required the integration of 3 different companies. Doing so came with its challenges.
The biggest challenge was actually the fact that these were three separate cultures. They each came with their own people, locations, and strategies. They had years built up into each one, with long-time staff members and trusted strategy solutions. Getting everything together, and to work properly, was not going to be an easy task. Everyone had to work together, which meant managing relatively fast changes in strategy and environment. This could lead to numerous issues during production and sale, including an increase in defective products and difficulties with getting everyone on the same strategy.
Again Stark HR was faced with little budget, though there was some available for communications when necessary, meaning that difficulties with managing this project increased. Bottom line was: Stark HR had to completely integrate all three with no extra finances available. This meant relying largely on skills and experience to keep everyone satisfied.
To make a successful change would required respecting employees sense of belonging and finding the “common link” between old and new culture. We had to keep a small piece of the “old culture” there in order not to make people feel lost.
And how does one do that? By talking to people. “Sense of belonging” is a basic human need, with many psychologists discussing this need as being at the level of importance of that as food, water, and shelter. A sense of belonging can be so powerful that it can create both value in life and the ability to learn healthy coping skills when experiencing intensive and painful emotions.
Approach defined, we went to talk to people. An interesting result came when we interviewed the commercial area. We found out that the way those 3 companies dealt with the customer was COMPLETELY different. One had a more personal approach, the other would rely on bidding processes and the third one was a mix between both.
So now we had not only the internal challenge, but if we did something wrong, we could end up risking the whole sales operation.
Try telling a manager of a very successful sales team that they need to change. Of course the first answer will always be “Why? We are good just the way we are, no need for change.”
Yes, looking at a short term perspective, they were right, so any initiative for change would require a strong and valid argumentation. For both sides.
Just about that time, the Marketing area was implementing a program based on NPS (Net Promoter Score). Net Promoter Score is a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix. NPS can be as low as −100 (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody is a promoter). An NPS that is positive (i.e., higher than zero) is felt to be good, and an NPS of +50 is excellent.
The Net Promoter Score, itself, is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.
Those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 are called Promoters, and are considered likely to exhibit value-creating behaviors, such as buying more, remaining customers for longer, and making more positive referrals to other potential customers. Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 are labeled Detractors, and they are believed to be less likely to exhibit the value-creating behaviors. Responses of 7 and 8 are labeled Passives, and their behavior falls in the middle of Promoters and Detractors.
The survey also included a question with an open-ended request for elaboration, soliciting the reasons for a customer's rating of our company. And THAT was one of the argument Stark HR needed to support our suggestions as to where integration was needed and where the company should keep things apart.
Stark HR was able to keep the group sales at the same level and integrate all companies under one name within a year. Just because we listened to people.