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4 No-Fail Steps to Prepare Your Team and Organization for an Acquisition

by | Bank Acquisitions


I believe a good acquisition should be “normalized” in within a quarter—and quickly profitable.

In this episode, I’ll share with you a few elements of a system we use with our clients that have allowed for them to normalize the culture and get everyone playing nice in the sandbox together within a week and assure the acquisition hits its financial expectations that first year.

If you’re the kind of leader:

  • Who feels like you have your marketing, hiring and sales franchise systems optimized and creating a powerful, predictable result, stick tight because we’ll talk about how taking those to an even higher level will create an impressive impact on profit.


  • Alternatively, if you have a sales system, marketing system, and hiring system, but you don’t feel like you are optimizing results from those and you’re sure there are a few “secret handshakes” you are missing, you’ll love today’s session because I’ll show you how you build those systems in a way that you know that you know you have optimized anything to do with revenue.


  • If on the other hand, your sales system is, “hey lenders, make a few calls every month” and they have no idea how to land quality credits at premium pricing, but instead throw things at the wall and hope they stick, you are about to invest your best few minutes of the year.

There are a few challenges to preparing your systems for acquisition so that it is effortless with little chance for drama or upset.

  • First, banks often do an acquisition because they have a problem, and the acquisition is intended to SOLVE the problem, whether it is deposit growth or loan growth.
  • Second, many banks have revenue and culture systems—they just aren’t quite producing the “top 10% of peers” results you were hoping for.
  • Third, there are often some egos of the executive team that don’t allow for the humility to really look at each area to optimize. It’s like an athlete competing for the Olympics who is unwilling to hire a coach because they proclaim, “I can do it myself.” You know how that will work. Have you ever seen a gold medalist there without their coach?

Seems like one of these obstacles is in the way of acquisition preparedness for almost every bank that is getting close—putting the acquisition at great risk.

I’m now going to give you four steps that will help you prepare for a successful acquisition and dramatically lessen the risks of a good acquisition going bad.

Step 1: Make sure you have an iron-clad system in place so that any new lenders are attracted to the success of the system and fall in alignment immediately. From how you differentiate, to how you select your next prospect to approach, to how you approach, so that rate and pricing are never issues, to how you bring the entire relationship—all of those are systems. This is not a good part of the business to let each person experiment and pull a Frank Sinatra and “do it my way.”

Step 2: Make sure you have a human capital audit in place using an emotional intelligence system designed for banking. Don’t bother with personality tests such as DISC and Predictive Index that have very little correlation to performance in a job. You want to know the scores for your current team and departments instead so that you can optimize each department. I’ve seen banks operating on 1/3 30% less people just by mastering their human capital audit and getting everyone in the right seats on the bus.

Step 3: Over-communicate. During an acquisition, your team members will make things up in a vacuum. Who will get laid off? Who will get that promotion? Will bonuses be decreased because of the acquisition costs? The conversations that become “the truth” (which have little to do with reality) can take over your culture if you are not over-communicating everything. For the things you can’t share, often repeat that you can’t discuss a few things yet, but that you will as soon as you can.


Step 4: Make sure that everyone is tied to the strategic plan and knows what their weekly critical drivers are, what their TOPs and SMARTs are, and how they and their team are doing each week compared to plan. If that level of connection to plan is not in place prior to an acquisition, the amount of “busy by the water cooler” activity with no connection to profit goes up substantially and quickly.

Just four steps:


  • Have your “profitable revenue” behavioral economics system designed and working before you add people to the “no-system” system and normalize ineffective behaviors such as: Sitting behind the desk waiting for people to walk in, or calling on low-profit potential clients, or getting swept into the “match my rate” conversations.


  • Align the emotional intelligence scores to the jobs—a person with a low-risk profile has over a 90% chance of being successful in that job a year later, compared to a high-risk candidate who has less than a 15% chance of being in the job, operating successfully, a year later. Move people to positions where they are more likely to perform well for a low-cost way to improve profit quickly.


  • Over-communicate—enough said.


  • Make sure everyone is tied to profit and the strategic plan before you add more wandering souls.

If you apply these culture alignment steps at least three months before you do an acquisition, you can have an extremely strong chance of beating the odds where 87% of acquirers fail to meet their financial projections. You can sleep easily, knowing that you have a strong probability of having your acquisition be a success.

Make sure you tune in next time where I’ll show you can avoid the “assumed” 30% loss of customers when you have your next acquisition.

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