The reason to buy a company is to take what you purchased and grow it. Unfortunately, what often happens is that companies let the customers of the companies they acquired slowly get picked off by the competition. Instead of growing the new base of customers, the new base dwindles away.
You can buy a business but you cannot acquire customers. Keeping customers requires trust. After an acquisition, that trust must be built.
When we buy something big, we all experience buyer’s remorse. It’s that moment of time where we are nervous that we made a bad decision. (You may have some buyer’s remorse on the company you bought!) At that moment, the sale is very vulnerable to cancelation.
The same thing happens to customers after an acquisition. The customers of the acquired company get acquisition remorse. They are nervous. The customers of the company you acquired are vulnerable.
Sprint has provided my cellular service for over 10 years. Recently, T-Mobile acquired Sprint. Personally, I identified with the Sprint brand, seeing it as a maverick against the giants, AT&T and Verizon. I enjoyed the benefits of unlimited data and good pricing.
Following the acquisition, I’m nervous about T-Mobile. I don’t know much about their brand. Right or wrong, I see T-Mobile as a discount carrier. I’m concerned about losing my unlimited data and favorable pricing.
Several months into the new relationship, I’m impressed with how T-Mobile is handling the transition. In this article, here are a few things I’ve noticed that we can learn from T-Mobile.
Explain the Main Benefit
The first thing T-Mobile did was explain the benefits of the acquisition. I received several emails and letters explaining that the combined resources of the companies will allow me to not only keep my unlimited data, but also get access to a more robust 5G network. They have backed this up by carpet-bombing TV commercials to reinforce that the new company has more 5G coverage than AT&T and Verizon combined.
I’ll admit, as a customer I was nervous that Sprint was falling behind in the race to the fast internet that I want. The primary message of the acquisition is that we are vaulting ahead of the established players. As a trailblazer, I like this.
What is the main benefit that your acquisition offers your customers? T-Mobile buying Sprint gives me more 5G meaning I get to stay ahead of the tech curve. This helps alleviate my nervousness. What benefit could you offer?
The week that T-Mobile announced the acquisition to Sprint customers they rolled out T-Mobile Tuesdays. The very first perk was free access to the MLB Network for the rest of the season. Now, as I watch the Blue Jays, I feel goodwill towards T-Mobile. Since then, they have given me magazine subscriptions, 10 cents off gasoline, a T-Mobile face mask, and even a free Whopper. Every Tuesday, I look forward to the notification on my phone that tells me I have a new perk.
Another perk is Scam Protection. This handy app automatically screens out scam calls. I like that!
What perks could you offer to your customers? How could you build goodwill and make the relationship fun?
This may sound like unnecessary fluff. However, when you buy a business, the customers are nervous and afraid. These are negative emotions. If they are not overcome with positive feelings of goodwill, your newly acquired base is at risk of slipping away.
Build the Relationship
I hope you have a consistent cadence of meetings and touch points with your current clients where you stay in tune with their business goals and challenges. (If not, starting to conduct Periodic Business Reviews is a simple, low-hanging fruit process change you should implement right away!) Build the relationship with your new customers. Don’t just send them a letter. Learn about their business goals. Get to know their people. Offer Periodic Business Reviews as one of your perks.
Building relationships into your new customers does two things. First, it protects the accounts. Second, it sets the stage for cross-selling additional products and services into the account. That’s where things get good. Not only do you keep the customers from the acquisition, you grow them!
Make a Plan
Are you planning to acquire a company? If so, I recommend that you make a customer retention plan before you do the acquisition. It is probably a good idea for every company to do this proactively so that when they do make a purchase, the plan is ready to roll.