Acquisitions come with their fair share of challenges. Consolidating tech stacks and sales teams across different product lines is complex. This is especially true for distributors acquiring multiple smaller businesses to form a larger entity.

Depending on the scope of an acquisition, distributors can end up with multiple product lines across multiple markets. 

While consolidating technologies is par for the course for most acquisitions, consolidating customer experienceis a different story. And if the acquiring company can’t do that well, they’ll miss out on reaping the full ROI of that transaction.

So, how can distributors using M&A as part of their growth strategy get sales teams from newly integrated businesses on the same page? 

One way to do this is with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). 

Using Data to Drive Synergy Between Sales Teams

Data is crucial to B2B success. Unfortunately, most distributors have years of data, but most of it isn’t used.

When two distributors merge operations, data challenges multiply. This includes customer, sales history and product information. Combining this into a central location as quickly as possible is the best way to take advantage of this data. Afterward, you can leverage AI to uncover opportunities.

The goal – especially if the two companies offer complementary products and services – is to uncover opportunities to sell more to each account or cross-selling. 

It’s a key driver of ROI in acquisitions. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that 20% of the value companies derive from revenue synergies in an acquisition comes from cross-selling. Companies committed to cross-selling after an acquisition have a higher chance of hitting sales goals in a shorter time. 

But, the benefits of AI don’t stop at cross-selling.

AI’s Top 5 Benefits to Merged Sales Teams

Acquisitions can be stressful and intimidating for sales teams. Suddenly, reps must coordinate with new peers and learn to sell unfamiliar products. Chances are, they’re not going to spend much time doing so – because it’s hard without the right tools. The good news? With the right technology, you can make this transition easier, improve productivity and get your sales teams bought in. 

Here are five ways AI drives synergy in an acquisition:

Omnichannel Capabilities

With the help of AI, you can unify data, channels and systems from each acquisition to create a centralized intelligence source.

Customers increasingly expect omnichannel capabilities from their suppliers. According to a recent McKinsey study, B2B customers don’t just want an omnichannel experience – they need it. Buyers will take their business elsewhere if their expectations aren’t met. 

Buyers also want a tailored shopping experience. They expect reps to know them, their sales history, past and open support tickets, and upcoming reorders. When your team has a holistic view of each account – including what customers browsed online – they can offer customers a consultative shopping experience. 

Greater Understanding of Product Lines

Most distributors have tens of thousands (if not millions) of SKUs. Even an experienced sales rep can’t be an expert on every product in your catalog. There are simply too many items, variants and substitutes for a person to remember. Add in another business’s inventory, and the challenge may feel insurmountable.

The problem? Without this level of product knowledge, your team is missing valuable sales opportunities. 

When you integrate AI-enabled tools into your tech stack, they analyze the data for you. After crawling through this data, an AI model can pinpoint commonalities and natural pairings between products, giving your sales reps intelligent insights into every product. That helps sales reps get up to speed fast. When product affinities and substitutes are at their fingertips, they can easily start selling items from adjacent catalogs, lessening the ramp time required after a merger.  

Better Upsell and Cross-sell Recommendations

AI models are excellent at identifying logical product pairings. For instance, if a customer orders a set of safety goggles, a model may recommend they also buy gloves and earplugs. If a buyer wants a more complex piece of equipment, the AI model can identify any additional components needed to run the equipment. As a result, AI helps customers find things faster and ensure nothing is missed. 

You can use AI-powered upsell and cross-sell recommendations on your ecommerce site or within sales teams. For example, on your website, AI is the fuel for helpful suggestions like “Add to Cart,” “Other Customers Bought” and “Don’t Forget,” as well as recommended products during customer interactions with customer-facing teams, so your sales and customer service reps always know what to pitch. 

On-Demand Product Information

Most B2B products are complex and can have unique characteristics that alter their functionality. If a customer calls a sales rep to ask for details about a particular product, the last thing you want is for the rep to put the customer on hold to frantically search for answers. It is even more detrimental to the customer relationship when a rep has to contact a manufacturing rep for product answers. While your sales rep awaits a reply, your customer calls your competitors with better information and faster response times.

When you pool data from acquired companies, your systems can access all your product information. With the help of AI, sales and customer service teams can quickly search for products and provide answers on-demand, so customers never have to wait for a reply. 

Improved Collaboration Between Companies & Sales Teams

Synergizing teams after an acquisition is challenging. It disrupts the status quo. Aligning your teams as quickly as possible after a merger is critical. 

AI tools improve collaboration between companies and teams by centralizing customer, product and sales data. With this technology, your teams won’t struggle to learn about new products and systems overnight. Instead, they’ll lean on dashboards and analytics built to help them sell. They’ll have all the information they need to provide a great customer experience, even while adapting to their new place in your organization. 

Synergizing sales teams and data from separate companies is a big undertaking. However, with the help of AI, you can provide unmatched customer support, even amid the chaos of an acquisition.