The Sales Transformation Podcast – The challenges presented by a corporate merger: the case of Skeepers
Sales has never changed as much as it has in recent years: remote sales, team specialization, new organizations, new tools, new KPIs… everything is changing. In this Sales Transformation podcast, we take an in-depth look at these issues once a week with the actors of these transformations: Head of Sales, Sales Enablement from the most innovative companies in the field. The show is sponsored by Salesdeck.io, the SaaS platform that makes your meetings more engaging and better prepared. For this first show, we welcome Guillaume Laurent, Head of Sales at Skeepers France. The summary of the podcast in this article.
Presentation of Skeepers
Skeepers is a group created in 2012 that is the result today of the merger of several companies. To date, it brings together big names like Avis-verified, which joined the group first. The company currently employs more than 450 employees with an average growth of 40% every year. Skeepers supports more than 6,500 customers worldwide including France, Brazil, the United States, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.
The group’s objective is to create value for clients and companies around 3 main values: Engage, Improve, Activate. The group manages the entire user experience through the generation of customer reviews, the creation of User Generated Video, Live Shopping, Influence Marketing, the Customer Experience Platform and the Customer Data Platform, and the Predictive Information part.
The group is now part of the French Tech 120 and has received a fund of over 100 million. Moreover, it is thanks to this fund that the company has been able to buy the numerous companies that make it up. The challenge for Skeepers is to have a “One platform” grouping all the solutions of the different groups that make it up.
What are the stakes involved in a merger or combination of companies in the Tech and Scale-up field?
In the case of Skeepers, the fact of merging with groups that were formerly competitors required a lot of adaptation. The company has had some great challenges such as integrating the teams and aligning the sales processes. The first challenge is at the portfolio level. Indeed, the merger was quite problematic, with duplicate deals at the end of the year that had to be sorted out fairly.
The second challenge concerns the integration within Skeepers as the company has grown. With the acquisition of Hivency and Octoly, the group has integrated more than 130 people. Now that there are more than 300 people, Skeepers has to generate different products, with unknown teams and processes. As a result, the group was forced to work in silos. However, the group decided to merge all the teams in the medium term so that everyone could sell all their solutions. By proceeding step by step, the development of the Cross Sell is established little by little.
The group’s sales structure is fairly traditional. An SDR team handles the prospecting and outbound part. The marketing teams, on the other hand, generate the inbound part. Different positions are established in the teams. That said, certain solutions on the platform will haveInbound Executive positions to ensure the pre-qualification and qualification part. As for the Accounts Executives, they will manage the entire sales cycle and closing. The GAM or Global Account Manager team will take over the Keys Account or the top 50 Skeepers customers to try to extend the scope of the solutions to these customers.
The number of sellers for Skeepers
There are nearly 90 people in charge of Customer Facing, but also on the global sales side. However, Skeepers has 8 Account Executives for 8 SDRs. The team works in pairs to simulate lead generation, but also to increase the SDR team’s skills in the Account Executive job.
The idea is to create in the medium and long term a real evolution from Inbound Executive to Account Executive and then to managerial functions. This is the pairing system (SDR and Account Executive) used at Hivency, which allows us to create a dynamic on the set, but also remotely during the Covid. Thus, the leads generated by the SDR go to the Account Executive, but on fairly specific segments. The SDRs will focus mainly on the small business and lead market segments. Then all the business part is managed directly by the Account Executive to have this prospecting on their side.
How does a company merger work?
For Skeepers, in order to properly manage a merger, the company works in silos, meaning that each person manages his or her own perimeter in order to better prepare for the next step. The idea is to put in place the first elements of language, the first elements of pitch to be able to detect opportunities on the meetings that are carried out by the team and to accelerate the cross-selling part. Once the team is mature enough and has gained competence, the transition to One Platform will be easier.
There is also a partnership team that will establish relationships with consulting firms or agencies to accelerate the detection of opportunities and the closing of certain deals. This allows us to go even faster in this growth.
How do you win customers for two formerly rival companies that have merged?
It is possible to avoid conflicts on this point by consensus. Skeepers has chosen to propose the platform that best meets the needs of its clients or future clients over the coming years. For the time being, it is the Hivency platform that the group has selected by proceeding with a rebranding to detach itself from the different brands. The objective is to create a new hunting portfolio for each of the Accounts Executive in order to avoid duplication in the portfolios.
Each of them now has nearly 50 key accounts to prospect and close. The whole transformation around the product is to take the top features that were on Octoly and put them on the Hivency platform which has been renamed the Skeepers Influence platform. In the end, it’s a merger of solutions, in which Octoly accounts to the merged solution are built on the basis of Hivency.
The challenge for Skeepers in 2022
On the challenge side, the group wants to build its new team by ensuring that everyone is trained as quickly as possible. This means recruiting in the very short term. The second challenge is to create synergy with the other solutions, i.e. to align the business processes, to see how to optimize the best of each solution to generate maximum growth.