Insights

Who Is Your Champion?

One guarantee that comes with choosing Stillwater Capital as your M&A Advisors: you will have astonishingly organized people working on your behalf.

Some degree of organizational ability is necessary for anyone handling the myriad of moving parts involved in a successful acquisition, but at Stillwater, we look for the highest level of skill in everyone we hire. We will also challenge you and your company to be organized throughout the process. I know that you wouldn’t have gotten as far as you have without being well-organized in your approach to doing business, but every step of this process will demand that you up your game.

I would suggest that there are two moves you can make to establish a baseline of organization that will set your company up for success throughout the acquisition process.

1. FIND YOUR CHAMPION

Engage Stillwater as your M&A Advisory Team, and one of the first questions we’ll ask you is Who will champion this process in-house? Who is your Point Person?

Consider that a new job title for someone in your company: Champion. Before the process begins, figure out who the in-house person who is on top of it at all times will be. Whom can you task to focus on the acquisition process as it proceeds; who will champion the effort?

The road to every successful deal includes multiple macro decision points that will clearly shift the goalposts. Still, there are also a million other micro-decisions that may have a significant impact on your outcome.

It’s a lot to keep straight, a complex narrative. Your M&A Advisors will work hard to keep the process on track as it unfolds, but you’ll do yourself (and your Advisors) a favor if you’ve also identified someone to keep that story straight on your side.

Your Champion will be the one who stays current and who always understands where the company stands on the acquisition process timeline. They will know exactly what steps are coming next and the people involved in which decisions.

The Champion becomes a crucial go-to figure for all the other members of your company who will have various minor roles to play, but they also fulfill a critical role for us as your Advisory Team.

Without a consistent point of contact from the client’s side, advisors often encounter a situation where What Frank says on Friday directly contradicts What Monica said on Monday. Messy communications tangle up the workings of your project. A single Champion keeps the integrity of your communication secure. Deals have been lost for lack of one.

2. AGREE ON YOUR INTERNAL DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

This is another organizational step you should take with every person involved in the acquisition process.

It will not be enough for stakeholders in your company to have a general idea about the process and their responsibilities. Refrain from assuming that the protocols you have in place for day-to-day business will work here. You must develop and clearly communicate a decision-making protocol specific to the acquisition process. When you do this exercise thoroughly and intentionally, it will pay off in the end.

Your newly minted internal acquisition Champion will become the mouthpiece for communicating decisions to your Advisors. That doesn’t mean they are the decider of all things, but when a particular decision arises, they will know whose it is to make.

A delineated decision-making protocol means that everyone involved knows the following:

Who needs to know what pieces of information.

Whose expertise makes them the go-to for specific categories of questions.

What major decisions are upcoming, and where on the acquisition timeline do they fall?

When major decision-making bodies like the Board or the Acquisition Committee must be involved, and when don’t.

In a public company, the many stakeholders and procedures at play make it particularly important to have a very clearly defined decision-making protocol, but this also holds true in private companies.

Having an effective procedure for decision-making makes basic, everyday business sense. Be aware that even if you have a protocol already in place for the day-to-day operations of your company, it likely will cover only some of the particulars of the acquisition process. Take some time to craft a separate protocol specific to the situation; it will stand you in good stead. It’s one of many ways to set yourself up at the start for a great final result.

Implementing both of the above organizational steps will have a positive impact on the outcome of your acquisition process but will carry a side benefit as well: both approaches communicate trustworthiness, and a seller only sells to a trustworthy buyer. Without it, deals don’t materialize.

When we approach a seller that we know you’re interested in, it starts us off right when we can tell them, “This is who your buyer is. This is how decisions are made. These are the key decision-makers, and this is their timeline.” It communicates the solidity and professional integrity a seller can trust and springs from a steadfast commitment to a well-organized acquisition process.

Stillwater Capital’s M&A Advisors pursue best practices of excellence and organization that bring about the best results.


When you’re ready to assemble your team of experts, start a conversation with us here.

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Written by: Douglas Nix