Acquisitions, Blog, Dental groups

Failing to view acquisitions as a customer journey?

Are you failing to view acquisitions as a customer journey?

Every part of the journey from first conversation through to completion and integration is an opportunity for engagement and relationship building.

Consequently, if you view the whole process as a customer journey, you have an excellent opportunity to strengthen your Acquisitions Brand.

Fail and you increase the chances of deal drop-out or reduced performance upon completion. Even worse, you risk a slur on your reputation.

Minimise doubts and fears

There is a reason we have chosen the term ‘customer’ rather than ‘seller’, ‘vendor’ or  ‘client’.  This is because it encourages a different perspective in the way you view the relationship.  It becomes a relationship where you are motivated to over-deliver to ensure you secure the customer’s business – in this case to ensure the deal completes and a positive relationship is maintained long term.  Over-delivery is achieved when you really understand the customer needs and perspective.

Selling a business is a potentially emotional journey for the customer (seller).  One which will raise doubts and fears as they contemplate the future changes for both themselves and their team.

Therefore, by identifying and minimising pain points and considering how you can maximise engagement throughout, you will strengthen your relationship and reputation.

The best way to achieve this is to really understand the journey from the customer’s perspective, rather than only focusing upon your own objectives and outcomes.

Map out each stage of the journey

It’s important to bear in mind that the journey is not about what needs to be done. It’s about what the customer is experiencing.

So, the journey stages might be something like this.

acquisitions as a customer journey

Ask and answer these questions

For each stage of the journey consider the following:

  • What is the customer need and objective?
  • What is your objective?
  • Can I anticipate some of the customer’s questions?
  • How will the customer feel during this experience?
  • How will you answer the questions and how will you promote positive, rather than negative, emotions?
  • What resources do you need to have in place for each stage?
  • Who will manage the relationship at each stage?
  • What actions need to be taken at each stage?

Example

For example ‘weighing up choices’ might look like this:

  • Customer need:  The customer will be considering what’s really important to them. This could be the best monetary offer, best work environment afterward,how they perceive your understanding of dentistry and clinical excellence, the excitement of a growing group, or the security of an established corporate, or any combination of these and more.  They will be weighing up all these elements based on previous conversations & information. Their objective will be to get the best deal to meet their expectations.
  • Your objective:  You will want to be a front runner in the customer’s mind when they come to making their decision.  And the best choice based upon their needs. You will also want to be certain that they fit with your values, culture and way of working. You will probably also be considering the potential for growth.
  • Customer questions:  These are likely to be along the lines of – what will life be like after sale if I sell to this group?  Will I enjoy working with these people? Do I trust they will keep their promises?  What’s the reputation of the dental group?  Am I aligned with the vision and values of this dental group?  What is the long term plan for this group, in terms of growth, sale etc.
  • Customer emotions:  They may experience uncertainty and fear of making the wrong decision.  Discomfort with agreeing to a change that they ultimately won’t be able to control.  And possibly scepticism about promises that have been made.  And/or excitement about a future where they can focus on their dentistry, experience greater freedom and feel financially satisfied etc.
  • How to answer questions: Consider what you can put in place to reassure and guide the customer through this stage of the journey.  Will information help? Video testimonials from other sellers?  A follow-up phone call with one person they have formed a trusting relationship with? Consider, what would you find helpful in their shoes?
  • What resources do you need to have in place:  What resources will help you to provide answers for the above questions?
  • Who will manage the relationship at each stage:  Will one person manage the relationship from start to finish, or will others be involved for instance during due diligence?  How will this be managed so the customer experiences ‘one conversation’?
  • What actions should you take at each stage:  What triggers need to be in place within the journey to ensure that one step follows another, so you can manage the journey well from start to finish.

Financial and Legal Due Diligence

Once both sides have agreed to a deal and it enters financial and legal due diligence, the danger is it becomes transactional.  The process and completion of tasks overrides the relationship with the customer.

Depending on your team’s resources, this part of the journey takes a long time and the customer may feel left in the dark, confused and frustrated by progress.

In addition, to get things moving swiftly you will need the co-operation of the time-poor Principal to collate information.

Relationships will become more complex as their Accountant and Solicitor become involved and several different people are asking the customer for the same information more than once .

Management of this stage in terms of relationship is the most challenging of all.

To minimise customer pain and friction, take the ‘Reconcile with decision to sell’ stage and create a ‘sub-map’ of activities.  Meticulously identify who will be dealing with what and when, and agree how the customer relationship will be managed.

It’s essential that every team member who comes into contact with the customer remembers that they are representing the Acquisitions Brand. That is to say, they must have an attitude of exemplary customer service, as opposed to just completing a transaction.  The due diligence stage has the biggest risk of this happening, with people becoming task-focused and forget customer engagement.

You are managing change

Ultimately, the journey of selling a practice is a change journey for the Principal and their team.  By retaining a strong relationship and open and consistent communication you are easing the change journey, meaning integration of the practice will be much, much smoother.

Map this with everyone involved

Map this journey by involving everyone who has a role in it.  It’s really important that you remove ‘silo’ thinking and ensure that everyone understands that, to the customer, they are part of one, consistent conversation.  It’s not up to the customer to fill them in on the conversation they had with a colleague yesterday, everyone in your team should understand the whole picture of what’s going on.  Mapping it together creates greater empathy and produces a superior process.

Everyone is ‘selling’

Finally, every touch-point after the customer’s initial conversation and once the Heads of Terms are signed is a signal as to whether the culture of your dental group is how you have described it and whether they have made the right decision.

Growth through reputation cannot be underestimated.  Is every member of your team living and demonstrating your company values?  Is their behaviour a positive reflection of your culture?

Everyone within your business is ‘selling’, because the customer is buying into a perception of their future experience with you.  Make the journey positive and they will integrate smoothly and recommend you readily.

Facilitating this kind of session yourself can be tricky as you can become bogged down in the detail and sucked into problem solving.  evolveyou dental are experts at facilitating acquisition journeys with teams, involving everyone.  With skilled facilitation, we produce useful insights, achieve clarity, and agree on clear actions for you and your business.  The context of the session is important too – linking back to why it’s important; acquisitions brand, culture, reputation, integration etc.  Contact us to discuss facilitation of your acquisitions journey.