We all struggle to gain consensus in an organization on virtually any topic, and I have found that to be true in conducting customer due diligence projects with companies. It brings me to my third lesson learned.
Lesson 3: Building consensus is important
Targets tend to be nervous about the experience that their customers will have in the due diligence process – for example, how their customers are going to be approached, the kind of questions that we will ask, etc. This is, in fact, one of my key litmus tests – if the target is not concerned about this issue, it may suggest a weakness regarding the level of customer-focus within the target organization that the acquirer should be mindful of. So, an engaged target is a good target – the key is how to best engage them.
This is where Walker can again provide value – by having a sound analytical framework, we can help the target understand the intent of the questions. We also want to hear how they are interpreting the questions – chances are, their customers will interpret them in a similar fashion, and understanding this allows us to fine-tune the language to best resonate with the customer.
Getting this level of consensus, though, does take time – and we advise acquirers to expect this. To minimize the overall project cycle time, we will work in parallel – that is, as we are building the customer list, we will be acquiring the customer financials and developing the question set. This way, we can take the time needed on each aspect of the project while not extending the overall project schedule. In fact, in spite of some of the challenges we have presented here, we have been able to work within the stringent deal timelines that clients have presented.
This is the third in a series of lessons learned conducting advanced customer due diligence. Watch my blog in the coming weeks for other key lessons. They will be available here.