On average, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is a net-neutral investment. 

Approximately 70 percent of all mergers fail to match a market-based rate of return and the aggregate returns to buyers are basically zero. 

To meet the key goal of M&A — increasing revenue growth to exceed standard market conditions — companies must synergize sales activity from two or more teams. 

Any MBA can spout out these words, but in practice, it isn’t so easy. Anyone who's gone through M&A knows that it can take months, quarters or even years for two previously separate companies to use the same business rules and software. 

Accelerate Sales with Social Graph Analytics

Between CRM, marketing optimization and lead qualification tools, financial accounting tools and HR systems, the challenge of simply getting two companies synchronized from a data perspective can seem huge. 

So how can newly-merged sales departments get around this integration challenge and get back to what really matters: hunting down, qualifying and closing deals?

Social graph analytics (also called social network analytics or graph analytics) is an overlooked capability that can help sales organizations to prioritize and accelerate sales activity. It’s important not to mistake social graph analytics for “social networks” or “social media.” We all know about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as important social media tools. But although social graph analytics or social network analytics sound similar, they work slightly differently and are applicable for much more than social media.

Social graph analytics show how each person is connected to others based on data sources such as call records, texts, instant messages, emails or (yes) social media. The easiest way to think about this is by imagining the last 20 emails you’ve sent. Perhaps you’ve sent 10 emails to your top client, three emails to your second-best client, two emails to your third-best client, and five other emails. The social graph result would look something like this:

social graph for sales 

By getting this kind of view for every sales representative across every channel, social graph analytics can show each representative’s, sales team’s and company’s existing relationships even before merging enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP. This helps merged companies understand who owns sales relationships and to create teams that are optimized to win on day one. 

Sounds simple enough in practice, but to get it right, merged companies need to think outside the box. M&A activity is too often seen as an exercise in pure process integration or financial modeling. 

By being a bit more agile and thinking of M&A as an integration of people and social activity, merged sales teams can quickly use social analytics to bring the right people together for each account and opportunity more quickly. 

How Social Graphs Support Post M&A Sales Priorities

To better understand the sales value of social graph analysis, consider four key evaluations that merged sales teams need to execute from the get-go.

1. Evaluate all disputed net-new, cross-sell and upsell revenue opportunities 

Realistically, it's not possible for two companies to seamlessly merge their CRM platforms in a day one scenario, even if they’re using the same platform, due to the customization within each company’s sales processes. By creating a united social graph across all relevant organizations for email, unified communications and social media activities, sales executives can be neutral and evidence-based arbiters in assigning disputed clients based on relationships and sales activity.

2. Evaluate each sales representative’s current sales activity for existing territory

Sales managers can also look at the social graph of each account representative to see the frequency and strength of relationships between a rep and assigned accounts, quickly determine which accounts are relatively ignored or underpenetrated, and decide whether it makes more sense to coach the rep to approach the account more effectively or reassign an account to an underutilized or more productive sales rep.

3. Analyze relationship depth across multiple channels

To understand how often a relevant contact has been contacted, sales managers can use social graph analytics to analyze multiple written and verbal channels sent by a single account representative, see which marketing and social channels are associated with each account, and align communications activity with current account qualification or sales opportunities.

4. Integrating multiple sales organizations into a cohesive organization based on territory, relationships, and communications activity

In a merged organization, sales representatives should work together to represent the full breadth of merged corporate products and services, a complete portfolio of outreach strategies, and the greatest possible number of contacts within the account. This alignment requires companies to dig deep into social analytics to understand sales activities across multiple channels and to bring together personnel that may have been approaching the same vendor, but with different tactics, products and sales targets. 

Get Your Post-Merger Sales Team in Gear

By taking these key sales gaps into consideration, proactive organizations can receive the following sales benefits soon after a merger officially takes place:

  • Identifying all accounts representing shared revenue-producing opportunities: This can be conducted through a combination of CRM and business meetings to assign representation to ensure that every client opportunity has been proven
  • Bridging gaps between disparate enterprise applications tasked to track sales qualification and opportunity management during the transitional merger period. With the guidance of networked big data from communications activity (email, messaging, unified communications), sales managers can go straight to the source in understanding historical sales activity without needing to go back and forth between multiple systems
  • Prioritizing pursuit of joint accounts based on merit, as defined by work activity, frequency of communications and strength of individual relationship networks. By doing so, companies can create the expert networks and SWAT teams associated with effective sales execution

In today’s world of data-driven sales enablement, sales managers no longer have to rely on gut feel and anecdotal argument to figure out who really owns the relationship. The data is there to be analyzed. What has been missing are the social graph tools that mere mortals could use. 

However, social network analytics are now available through a variety of out-of-the-box tools for email and communications usage analysis as well as a toolkit for your analytics team to better clarify your enterprise data. 

So, take a closer look at your social graphs, especially if you’re either preparing for a merger or have had one shoved down your throat. Either way, social graph analysis will help you to rationalize and optimize your sales teams sooner, rather than later.

Title image "relativity" (CC BY 2.0) by  ngg980