There are many strategies for growing an integration business, but making the leap from a local to regional presence frequently includes acquiring other companies. Acquisitions don’t happen without growing pains, and they can be acute. If not managed carefully, the process of bringing together disparate organizations, each accustomed to operating and selling in their own way, presents difficulties on many levels. Management must quickly establish and communicate unified procedures across the organization, so that team members clearly understand how to proceed as part of the new, combined entity. Otherwise, confusion, conflict and poor employee morale are almost assured, resulting in a direct loss of the return on investment. Sales management software establishes new process and procedures immediately, enhancing “ROI” from the start.
Sales management software can streamline the transition by unifying the newly merged workforces via a common platform and process. It provides salespeople with structure, management with a transparent view of sales data and the complete pipeline, and the organization with confidence due to a centralized, real-time database replete with customer, contact, parts, labor and services. Software helps to facilitate communication and collaboration between departments. It also automates workflows, decreasing paperwork and manual resource time, which may be different than before the acquisition.
Shantel Summers is director of administrative operations for Mountain Alarm, a regional provider of comprehensive security and life-safety products and services. Its first location opened in Utah in 1952. Today, there are 14 locations in seven states throughout the Intermountain West, resulting from both organic growth and a series of acquisitions.
“Having a centralized sales management software platform has been instrumental in getting the companies we purchase quickly acclimated to how we do business," Summers says. “I’m a stickler for standardization, and the software really speeds up the process and makes sure everyone’s on the same page and quoting consistently. It makes it simple for new salespeople to know what to do.”
It also gives salespeople who have joined the organization through acquisition confidence to present their new employer’s products and services most professionally. “In all my experience of acquiring companies, the new salespeople have been thrilled to use our sales management software,” Summers says. “When they see the quoting tool, what proposals look like, and understand that they can get contracts signed electronically on the spot, they’re super excited. They’re able to present to customers in a very professional manner.”
Sales management software can also help sales teams learn how to quote a suddenly expanded line of products and services — things that they may not have ever sold before the acquisition. Labor hours can be associated with specific parts, break-even analysis can be calculated for RMR sales, and sales reps can be prompted to quote for special services they might otherwise forget, like permits or travel. It removes a lot of the opportunity for error.
Fire Monitoring of Canada (FMC) was originally a provider of fire monitoring services that provided signals directly to local fire departments. Since 1988, when its first location opened in St. Catharine, Ontario, it has added 3 satellite offices and expanded its offerings. Chad Asselstine, FMC’s vice president of business development, says, “Today, we specialize in certified fire alarm monitoring, but as we’ve acquired several companies through the decades, we now also provide high-level security integration services under the brand Bulldog Fire & Security. Everything that falls under the life safety umbrella, we do it.”
“As we moved into the security integration space, we were suddenly dealing with many more parts and manufacturers,” he adds. “We wanted software that could pull parts and model numbers straight from our ERP system. Now, with dedicated sales management software, our full catalog of parts and pricing is available within the quoting tool our reps use, always in real-time. We no longer have sales reps searching for parts on distributors' websites and manually entering them into spreadsheets.”
Erin Macauley is business applications coordinator at Allied Universal. More than once, she's experienced the critical role sales management software plays during an acquisition. In April 2019, Securadyne Systems — Macauley’s previous employer — became part of Allied Universal. Just six years earlier, Securadyne was formed from four separate security companies, including Intelligent Access Systems, where Mcacauley was then employed. “We had used WeSuite sales management software at Intelligent Access Systems, and Securadyne quickly decided to implement it across the whole enterprise to bring everyone under one platform,” she explains. “We initially tried using the company's generic ERP system for quoting, but we had issues with it. With our business, we had to be able to quote a job that was $5,000 or $1 million. There were a lot of one-off type of parts. The ERP system couldn’t handle the unique nature of the security integration business.”
Today, Macauley is the WeSuite system administrator at Allied Universal, providing training to new employees, managing data quality control and user support. There are over 250 system users. The sales software and quoting tools have been an essential source of continuity for the sales team as it navigated that transition from working under Securadyne management to becoming part of the much larger Allied Universal organization.
John Nemerofsky is chief operating officer at SAGE Integration, a national security integrator created by merging two companies — AYSCO Security Consultants and DTS Security. “When I joined SAGE shortly after the DTS acquisition, there were no systems or processes across the new organization. One company was using QuickBooks, and the other was using Excel. We had no consistency in pricing. No approval processes. No engineering reviews and no comprehensive history or reporting of sales. We couldn't get sales management software up and running fast enough! It was a top priority.
“In addition to consistent pricing and processes, it's helped in measuring against our key performance indicators,” Nemerofsky adds. “We have reporting on average size quotes, average margin on existing clients versus new clients, quote-to-close timing, and much more. The reporting dashboards we've created are fantastic.”
Another challenge that sales management software addresses is branding. When a company is acquired, the parent company must decide what to do with the brand. If the acquired firm has equity within its territory, it may make sense to continue doing some business under the original name. However, there should still be consistency and a connection between the acquired brand and its parent. Asselstine explains that at FMC, “Our sales management software lets us maintain consistent branding and design at a corporate level, but when generating proposals, our sales reps can choose whether to use the FMC logo and identity, or to brand the proposal as Bulldog Fire and Security, our subsidiary.”
Summers describes a similar situation at Mountain Alarm. “We have a variety of proposal templates. Most of our sales are under Mountain Alarm, but we need to adjust our proposals, contracts, and other documents with different logos and colors in certain regions where we go by a different name. Our sales management software lets us make that change with just a click. We also have special templates that are specific to how some government entities require us to quote.”
Acquisitions can expand a company's footprint into new territories, grow its portfolio of products and services, add technical expertise, and increase RMR. All of those activities pay big dividends, but they rarely happen seamlessly from an operational and sales perspective. Some of the choppiest seas occur where two separate bodies of water meet. When bringing together security companies, sales management software is indispensable for turning potentially rough waters into smooth sailing. It’s a sure-fire way to more quickly and confidently realize a real return on investment by keeping great employees, increasing sales profitability and volume, and satisfying the internal operations and delivery teams — all of which contribute to a successful business expansion.