The War Room

My company is getting acquired - what should I do?

I found out my company is being acquired by a direct competitor. I have some friends in management that shared some details with me and they’re told no one is supposed to be laid off. That said, I’m thinking it’s going to be hard to sell when people dont know what will happen to your product. Our product was better than theirs in certain ways but in others there’s was better plus they’re the ones acquiring us.

What do you recommend I do right now? Specific steps to take? General advice?

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Notable Contributor
Deepak Chopra of Sales
It depends on why you are being acquired, and what the future plans are. There are generally 3 reasons why a company chooses to be acquired by a competitor:

1. Huge Win - Your company is absolutely crushing it, and a bigger competitor would rather absorb you vs. compete. These are rare situations, because if the company is truly doing great... most founders prefer to keep building. 

2. Ran out of energy / money - This is the most common reason. Your company isn't doing that great, but it's not terrible either. The founders want to cash out and would rather get something vs. nothing. This is the majority of acquisitions, where the customer base / technology is interesting enough that the competitor finds value in buying it. 

3. Unique tech - If your company has proprietary technology that a competitor wants to use, and you have a strong eng/product org, this can be a reason to buy vs. build. This is fairly common in deep tech companies, although a similar analog can be made for consumer companies that have an active user base. 


Reading between the lines, it sounds like this isn't going to be a massive celebration acquisition. With that in mind, you should try to suss out what % of the sales team the new company plans to absorb, versus the % let go. Also, be honest with yourself and where you stand on the team @StringerBell . If you're in the top 10-20% of your team, odds are good they will keep you. If you're in the bottom 50%, you're likely not gonna make it. The in between is tough to judge.

Either way, you should definitely start looking around and prepare to be laid off. It may not happen (bonus!) but it's the most likely outcome. 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...but I'd rather you be prepared and walk in eyes wide open. <3
Celebrated Contributor
Senior Account Executive
@sahil just saved me a lot of typing. What he said! 
Account Executive
I think it’s a combination of scenario 1 and 2 , we were a profitable company but I am not totally sure of the founders motivation to sell. Should I expect my current pipeline to evaporate?
down voters are marketing spies
Hey, sorry a bit late to the response on this one. 

Honestly, start shopping for new jobs. 

Usually when it's a top down take over from my experience, it's all copesetic for 3-6 months, then the cuts start. First double duty managers, the ones from the existing company with established relationships will stay, then the AEs come next, the ones that "know the process" will stay, any outliers will be given the 'option' to leave. 

Get a fresh start, just look for now, when they start changing directors and doing the re-orgs hopefully you'll have something lined up. Easier to get a new role without the other 5-10-20 people competing over the same role. 

Best of luck,

Big Shot
Regional Sales Director
Screenshoting this for sure. Thanks for clarifying 🔥
Sahil killed it 
Notable Contributor
Director Sales and Market Development
Hang tight, ride the wave, could be a great thing for you. They won't make immediate cuts, meet the new players and if you see yourself there, stay. If you get bad vibes start looking asap. 
WR Officer
Business Development Representative
Worked for a company that acquired 2 smaller companies during my tenure and one larger one.

Don't worry if you're in sales, they need salespeople with product knowledge and expertise to sell their products/convince existing customers to stay so you'll be fine.

Expect company culture to change massively, along with a mass layoffs of internal departments at your existing company, think HR, Legal, Internal IT (Why need multiple departments when you only need one?)

There may be a sense of survivor syndrome that comes after the layoffs, there will be a period of time where people quit because they don't like the changes.

For the most part in sales though, expect a net go to market strategy and sales playbook, pricing will probably change as well alongside commission/comp structure to align with the new company. 
Valued Contributor
Sr. Account Executive
I like when you said "Don't worry if you're in sales, they need salespeople with product knowledge and expertise to sell their products/convince existing customers to stay so you'll be fine."

People need people to sell, and if you are good at it and know your product you should be in a good position.
Account Executive
@StringerBell Agreed with other input. I'll just add my own personal experience. We acquired 3 other companies, ranging in size from tiny to a good size player. All were in order to fill gaps or expand our solution set in the market. They were all a buy vs build outcome and they all made sense.

Once those companies came over, there definitely were a lot of departures. There are a lot of redundant roles across the orgs that just aren't needed. I don't think my org did any layoffs, word would have gotten out but I think a mix of people cashing out w/ equity to seeing the writing on the wall that they were extra probably took off. Those were mostly in non-sales roles.

When it came to sales, we slowly saw lots of the companies we acquired take off over the next year. There's an immediate need for the teams that are familiar selling the product but my general sense is it's tough to cohesively integrate these teams, there's still an us and them mentality even if it's subtle. The parent company (mine) needed some time to train us up on the new solutions and they slowly became 'overlays' and we took on more sales ability. I would say that might be a warning sign, if your roles start to become 'overlays' and account ownership tends to fall towards the acquiring org. I know some big companies have successful overlay positions but didn't quite work out in mine.

So I hope you experience a better integration BUT in an effort to prep you for the worst, I would touch up the ol' resume, wouldn't be a bad time to rekindle some old relationships in the network before you might be at a point of desperation looking for a new job. Keep an eye on the market for new hot companies. It's totally normal to dip out after an acquisition, gives you a chance to start again and get more equity.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst! Good Luck!
New Business Account Executive
Totally agree with this.

@StringerBell I have both been acquired and been the acquiring company honestly the times I have killed it the most and made the most $$$$ are during that acquisition period.

Being the acquired one (and being a build vs buy so there was a gap in their stack for what I was selling) I soon found people, internally, hitting up my cell with potential opportunities as they were also getting SPIFFs for positioning us and they didn't know the solution. 

When we acquired someone I was hitting them up (we had competitive tech and I thought we'd shut theirs down but no, we bought them to get into a new market at a lower price point). 

Now it's not all roses there was a culture shock both times.  I was pissed at being acquired I loved m old company and didn't like how it was changing more red tape less control etc etc and to be honest. was used to being the big fish.  Acquiring a company is just as hard as they were all pissed, the ones that were helpful and tried to get on with it did the best.  Yes people left as they didn't like the culture both time but those that stuck it out got promotions as their knowledge and experience was worth more.
Senior Account Executive
Having gone through it a few times, my sad advice is to prepare to pack your bags. But there are so many details here that could really impact that decision. Are you a top performer and do you bring something to the table that the other AEs don't? Do you respect the acquiring company and what do you know about the culture? If you are excited about the merger than I would build the case as to why you need to be retained (although that might not be something you have much control about). If not, I would definitely start looking and get that severance package and move on to a new chapter. For the record, I was top performer and let go because I made too much money... The acquirer is king here unless you have some really strong people fighting for you...
Old School Bravo
Sales Performance Consultant
Ride the wave but be weary and gather some other options. My company was being shopped by the PE firm and the chorus from our Managing Director and CRO was everything would be business as usual... 

The moment the acquisition was announced, a quarter of the sales team (including myself - first in, first out) and the full client services team were laid off. 

Flash-forward another year and the compensation plan was dreadful, the partners were miserable and more than half of the sellers who were kept on had left.

TL;DR: Don't trust leadership re: an acquisition and how great everything will be. Good luck!
Account Executive
I’ve been through multiple mergers/acquisitions and reorgs...every single time they said there will be no lay offs...and every single time, people were laid off. Not that they fire “everyone” but different variables come into play. They assess peoples salaries, position in the org etc. If the company acquiring yours has a similar org, than odds are some management folks will also be let go too. i.e they wont need 2 VPs/SVPs for specific teams etc. For any sellers that have a good book of business and strong relationships, they’ll be less at risk. 

They’re also not going to let employees know they’re about to be laid off - especially the people in sales. 1) it will bring moral down 2) people will immediately look to take their talents/clients elsewhere.

I’d start backing up your salesforce info somewhere friend - just to be safe. Also, this gives you a valid reason to interview anyhow. Prospective employers would be understanding if you’re looking to make a move. Might be an opportunity to get a bump in salary or go to a dream company. 
Valued Contributor
VP of Channel Partner Sales
Having been through this type of thing, I can say with confidence that it is a huge pain in the butt. Unless your company is tiny compared to the other company, in which case nobody will notice and there will be very few changes.

My experience is that this type of situation always lead to layoffs no matter what anybody tells you. The good news is that, in my experience at least, typically sales is not in the first wave of layoffs which will typically be in in all the support functions... like why keep redundant HR, Finance, Legal etc.?

The bad news is that they will likely come around to sales in terms of layoffs eventually. If you are a top performer and you haven't made a bunch of enemies don't worry you'll be good.

The really annoying part of the process in my opinion is all the political BS and maneuvering that it leads too. People and departments will start working against each other just to secure their own position. It will often also make it a lot harder to get deals done since nobody has any clue how the new org will work and who is actually in charge - they will tell you they know, but trust me they have no clue.

They will also tell you how they are going to integrate the products, and how the result is going to be amazing - newsflash they won't and it won't.

Bottom line, you should probably sharpen up your resume and back up all your data.

Also, if these are publicly traded companies and this is not public knowledge, it is sketchy that anybody is sharing this information... you might want to pick up some stock if possible ;-)
Head of Sales
The company I work for just got acquired as well. Knowing the strategy of the company who acquired yours is the best way to understand whether to stay or not. Know that they want good sellers who hit their number, know the market, and understand that acquisitions are normal in business. And hopefully you had some equity! 
Small Enterprise Acquisition AE
Can anyone report on what it's like to be acquired by a private equity company? Going through something similar and wondering how quickly i'd need to pack my bags or if I can ride it out for awhile.
Sr Account Exec
Being acquired by PE is a big enough/different enough subject to warrant its own post--no experience there, but I'd start a net new post if you want some good answers [if one doesn't exist already]
Fire Starter
Sales Management
Have strong points on winning the customers
Senior Sales Executive
"Don't Panic"  Douglass Adams - Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy
Business Coach
The one thing you can control is your attitude.  Stay positive.  Good sales people will always be employed.
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