Ensuring Your Merger Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Acquired Parts

The goal of a merger or acquisition is to create a new entity that’s greater than the sum of its parts. When that merger involves product suites spanning multiple services on either side, the level of complexity rises exponentially—but so does the growth potential.

Whether the objective is to establish a majority market share or rapidly increase revenue, combining product suites is never as easy as putting products together. The combined result should offer customers a better experience that increases value for everyone.

And yet, even when it’s understood by all sides “why” the combined product suite should benefit all stakeholders, in my experience, most companies undergoing a merger or acquisition tend to postpone “how” all of these products will function together to generate an increased value.

More Than A Rebranding

As an example, one of my company’s clients built a recruiting platform that caught the eye of a larger company revolutionizing data-driven hiring. On paper, the acquisition made sense—the customers of the one company would naturally want to buy the other’s products and vice-versa. But in reality, those cross-selling opportunities weren’t as automatic as the negotiation team assumed.

The challenge is that too many organizations view post-merger product suite integration as a rebranding assignment. But while new logos and visuals may garner attention, what generates tangible value is creating the integrated product experience and “lengthening” the customer journey to deliver benefits customers haven’t realized before.

Streamlining Product Integration

I saw this myself when I led product and experience strategy during the merger of two large human capital management solutions. Once the deal was signed, the challenges of bringing the various product suites together began to emerge. Parts of the organization moved faster than others, breaking long-existing flows within the product suites and confusing customers. Other groups grappled with how to combine their offerings, reassess their target markets and coordinate technology, staff and titles.

To bring focus to the chaos and accelerate the process, we created a cross-departmental team that examined the urgent needs of internal stakeholders in marketing, service and sales, along with the priorities of existing customers. This enabled us to settle on our first big problem space: How to combine the brand and design languages on multiple marketing websites and product suites where half the products are 20 years old, and the rest are five, three or two years old? In other words, how do we create a consistent experience as users move through brands and products of different ages?

Understanding the existing and potential customer journeys and resolving that strategic question was consistently how we optimized the value of each of the company’s acquisitions and ultimately developed the post-merger innovation strategy.

Where many organizations struggle is that they see the rebranding exercise as a color scheme and logo change. But lengthening and owning the newly-merged customer journey through smart experiences and technical integration is where you gain market share and exponentially grow value.

The Role Of Product Leaders

In many respects, the process comes down to enacting the same market-share play done in the inquiring transaction; but instead of limiting the investigation into how to bring together various products technically, you’re also considering integration from a user-experience flow. Both product suites will now have new start and end points as they intertwine to share a new identity and user journey.

From here, everything else branches out: New offerings, pricing models, markets, technology enhancements, re-evaluation of legacy choices and customer bases. All of these value-adds link back to the potential brought by rewriting the broader customer journey.

A rebrand is undoubtedly the first push post-transaction, but to uncover the real opportunity for additional revenue and not leave money on the table, a post-merger or acquisition strategy shouldn’t just be led only by marketing. I’ve found that product leaders are critical in the early stages of the new cross-suite experiences, helping build a mutual design language that creates product line consistency and lifts the product with a shared and consistent look, flow and interaction.

Reaping the rewards of integrating products suites can take time—but the payoff can be significant. Instead of just cross-selling, being open-minded to changes and being willing to form new partnerships can create a lengthy, uniform customer journey as well as a bigger market share.

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