There’s an old line that says, “If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” Adapting that notion to the world of M&A, I’d say, “If Sales ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” 

You can screw up the integration process in many ways and still have a successful merger, but the deal fails if you foul up at merging the sales forces.

Sales brings money in the door . . . or not.  And that’s why Sales integration is the make-or-break issue.

Mergers are always based on a financial logic, and that’s how they’re ultimately graded—not on a “morale” logic, or “culture compatibility” quotient, or other random metrics.  In the final analysis, the results that count are about money.  If your sales people are churning out killer results, that alone can protect the deal from becoming a victim of most integration sins. 

Here’s the problem:  Companies typically approach sales force integration the same way they go about merging other functional areas.   It’s a dangerous mistake, because Sales is a different beast.

A recent survey of M&A professionals by McKinsey highlights the issue. Asked which function had the greatest need for improvement during the integration phase, the respondents singled out Sales & Marketing . . . by a wide margin.

Sales is your face to the customer.  More specifically, it’s your money pipeline, and money’s the key to your merger success.  That makes sales force consolidation the #1 hotspot in the integration process.