I’ve never seen a business problem I couldn’t fix. That’s not a brag, but a reminder that it’s easy to get bogged down in execution. How often have you been stuck on a problem only for someone outside the issue to solve it? You’d be surprised how often this happens at the company level, too.
I’ve seen this “can’t see the wood for the trees” syndrome impact everyone from management to the people executing its strategy. Without a holistic view of every department, one untarnished by over-exposure to the problem, performance can get lost in a sea of well-meaning initiatives.
People make your organization. And people – even CEOs and executives – are flawed. Too often, teams can’t see past the symptoms of performance issues, and they get stuck. My past roles involved getting such companies un-stuck, transforming them into thriving success stories. And after almost a decade of working with the best consultants, I’ve learned that the best performers always have the best teams.
Today I apply these lessons as Chief Growth Officer at Acquire.com. We’ve built world-class success teams that thrive on helping companies get Acquire’d. Life-changing acquisitions are the end game for you and us. The better your business performs, the easier it is to get Acquire’d, and each exit inspires a new generation of entrepreneurs, boosting the economy and enriching customers’ lives.
But how do you build a high-performance organization? What’s the framework for developing efficient, agile teams that help your business succeed? Are there playbooks you can apply to your own business?
Absolutely yes. But I won’t firehose you with do’s and don’ts (theory in a vacuum is easily forgotten). Instead, I’ll describe the lessons I learned on my way to Acquire.com. By the end, you’ll know how to maximize your team’s performance and prepare for a life-changing acquisition with our help.
How I Became the Fixer
When I tell people I was originally going to be a gerontology nurse, they’re sometimes surprised. Most people think of me as high-octane, high-energy. I don’t really have a “chill” setting.
Flying to a new city every week, living out of a suitcase, troubleshooting enterprises – all up my street, but not how I imagined my life after graduating high school. So why did I pivot?
Most people get a job while studying to earn a little extra money, and I was no different. I joined the customer success team at Verizon and immediately fell in love with technology. Back then, Verizon’s principal product was the internet, and I crushed all sales records. I loved helping people get online.
Although I’d studied nursing, it took just one day at Verizon to know I wouldn’t be a nurse. My parents didn’t get it – the internet was still young back then – but they respected the joy it gave me. Leaving nursing was tough, but I trusted my instincts and invested everything into my role at Verizon.
A year later, when I was just nineteen, the Verizon corporate team flew in from Virginia and invited me into the conference room for a meeting. I was terrified. I thought I was getting laid off. But it was the opposite. The corporates had looked at my KPIs and sales numbers and wanted to know how I did it. Then they asked if I could help other agents in their call centers do the same.
I didn’t know it until the meeting, but the corporate team was planning a national efficiency drive. They’d hired management consultants from McKinsey, Accenture, and Deloitte to help their call centers meet challenging KPIs. That meant analyzing and upskilling every department across dozens of locations.
I said yes and spent the next six years on the road visiting every Verizon call center. We’d visit every department, from operations to sales, and my job was to shadow front-line staff and report back to the consultants. Together, we’d then decide which of their many playbooks to apply.
Most days ended with us at a terrible franchise restaurant from about five PM to midnight discussing what to scale, automate, or productize. With a playbook decided, I’d return to the call center the next day to deploy it while the consultants moved on. Then it would be a new call center, new department, and new roster of problems to fix. Were we revolutionizing every department? No, it was mostly simple stuff.
In support ops, for example, I might help build a help center or response library. In sales, run an upselling course. In marketing, develop a winback strategy for high-churn. One of my favorite activities was asking staff to identify the differences between exceptional and proficient behavior for each business goal. Most people could identify the differences – they just hadn’t thought about them.
I did this “fixer” role from nineteen to twenty-six – seven years – and in that time, developed a strong sense of how each business function contributes to the whole.
I was eventually recruited by a global telecommunications company where I worked alongside Jamie Siminoff, founder of Ring, to build a call center in Bucharest, Romania. It grew to handle all Telecom VoIP internationally. Being global offered new challenges, so I was again on the road, setting up multilingual call centers, developing scalable SOPs, and coaching sales teams.
Later, I was recruited to join a franchising company. Our job was to empower franchisees with marketing tools to help them sell. My sector was real estate, where I closed the Berkshire Hathaway account with hundreds of locations across the country. That was my first sale.
But all that traveling wears you down. Deep down, I craved a little more stability. I was about to be offered a chance to settle down in San Diego and help a company that was doing well but could be doing better.
Complaint Is a Gift
I say no to most job offers I receive. Mostly because they don’t align with my values or wouldn’t be fun to do. When Andrew Gazdecki, then CEO of Bizness Apps, emailed me, he stood out for being candid. No flowery language or unrealistic promises. Just a few lines telling me he’d found me on LinkedIn, was impressed with my resume, and was looking for a VP of Customer Success.
Something about this cheerful CEO and his fresh, innovative team encouraged me to reply. After a few emails and a phone call, Andrew flew me out to San Francisco to meet everyone. Each department head came into the meeting room to interview me. I answered their questions, and a few days later, Andrew offered me the job. Bizness Apps moved to La Jolla, San Diego (just a few blocks from where our new Acquire.com headquarters is today), and I got stuck into learning every aspect of the business.
Customer churn was high. His reseller program was unfinished. He had a lot of SOP docs, but all were draft one, and most of the people on his team were junior. The patterns were familiar.
When I reflect on my time at Bizness Apps, I think of Complaint Is a Gift by Janelle Barlow. Companies like Nordstrom and Zappos use it to create world-leading customer success programs. Was there an opportunity here to “plus-one” Bizness Apps? To make our service so good, customers never left?
The answer was in our partner success program.
Bizness Apps built mobile apps for small to medium-sized businesses. Andrew had recently launched a reseller program, essentially whitelabeling our apps so agencies could sell them for us. The resellers were the key to scaling the company, and the partner success program was the key to growing revenue.
We asked our resellers what prevented them from selling more of our apps. Then we taught them how to overcome those obstacles. We coached them on everything from business models to go-to-market strategies. We ran webinars and training sessions. Offered templates and resources. Sent our sales teams to teach them sales skills. All while ensuring the whitelabel product was best in class.
Why did we invest so much time and effort into our resellers’ success? Because their goals were our goals. The more apps they sold, the more revenue they made, which made us more successful, too.
And it worked. Just a few years after I joined, Bizness Apps was Acquire’d in a multimillion-dollar deal.
I was then invited to lead the growth of a lead capture and mortgage technology company initially developed for Zillow. There, we achieved a staggering 700 percent growth and worked extensively with major mortgage and real estate partnerships.
While president of this company, Andrew approached me again – this time for a new business and challenge.
Helping Founders Succeed
Being president of a company has its perks. You don’t report to anyone except your board and customers. Like our founders, I’d fought long and hard for that position. The company was doing well, and I was comfortable – perhaps too comfortable. Before long, I was itching to start something new.
Andrew and I stayed friends after the Bizness Apps acquisition. I reconnected with him in 2022 and was captivated by Acquire’s mission. Founders often give up everything – hobbies, social life, family time – to pursue their dreams of getting Acquire’d. There were parallels between the typical founder journey and the career I’d made. What if I could help make that journey easier, shorter, and more rewarding?
Andrew proposed creating a client success team and extending our managed program to more founders, empowering them with hands-on guidance and support as they navigate their acquisition journey. Similar to what we did for our resellers at Bizness Apps. I’d worked with many on the Acquire team before at Bizness Apps, so it was an easy decision. In a sense, it was like going home.
Today I oversee the critical functions of sales, support, and marketing, all intricately aligned with helping founders sell their companies while ensuring high satisfaction. Leading the acquisition team has been more than just a job – it’s been an honor that keeps me pushing forward. The M&A field is all about change and growth, my two favorite things, so it’s been rewarding to help founders get Acquire’d.
People entering an acquisition for the first time often carry misconceptions that hinder their ability to sell or lack the knowledge and confidence to maximize their exit. Our technology and services combine to make that journey easier. Our in-house M&A team offers personalized support to sellers and buyers throughout the process, and we also provide coaching on everything from due diligence to negotiation.
We’ve built and optimized a help center for common customer questions, with version control, so every time the market or our platform changes, you get the answers you need. You also get marketing and listing optimization advice to make the most of your access to over 350,000 buyers.
Our award-winning customer support team is online 24/7, 365, with strict SLAs to answer your queries. We’ve upskilled everyone on the front lines so you always feel understood and supported. As well as email and live chat, you’ll soon be able to call us, too. In short, we’ve made selling on Acquire.com the easiest and fastest option for all founders.
But there’s still work to do.
One exciting challenge is to inspire founders and buyers to stay motivated during the process. Acquisitions seldom happen overnight. Usually, it’s a six-to-nine-month process. Anything can happen in that time, and we do our best to keep both sides engaged until the deal closes. How?
By becoming an extension of our founders’ teams, offering hands-on, personalized support to address their specific needs and concerns. This might involve regular check-ins, consultations, and guidance tailored to each party’s requirements. In short, we do everything to get the deal done.
How to Make High-Performance Part of Your DNA
The key to making impactful changes in your organization is to build teams capable of executing them. I don’t mean just one or two departments. Every team must move in the same direction, and at the same cadence and speed, to efficiently achieve your company’s goals. How does this happen?
Find people who share a passion for what you want to achieve. Create a supportive environment that helps them flourish, enabling fast growth. Build a positive team culture with group activities and fun exercises. For example, we run fantasy football leagues to foster friendly competition and teamwork.
Every success we’ve had, from the listing scorecard to our award-winning service to helping thousands of founders sell, is down to having the right people in the right seat team in a culture of continuous improvement. Together, we’ve not only navigated through the M&A landscape, but also brought in new energy and approaches that are making a real difference in the industry.
Here are a few principles I follow at Acquire.com to ensure our team performs its best at helping startups get Acquire’d. You’ll notice many of them are about establishing and nurturing the right culture. If your performance was a sculpture, your culture is the clay – one is only as good as the other.
1. Targeted Goal Setting
Define clear, ambitious goals. Everything we do at Acquire.com is intentional to avoid the risk of getting lost in execution for execution’s sake. Once you’ve set goals, check progress regularly to identify and remove roadblocks.
2. Hunter Mindset
Understand that proficiency isn’t enough. We look beyond the M&A transaction to identify pain points along the acquisition lifecycle, right back to starting a business. Understand your customers’ needs and align solutions to their goals.
3. Commitment and Accountability
Establish daily, weekly, and monthly milestones. Set up early-warning systems so you can fix problems before they become team obstacles. Build a culture of responsibility, where everyone knows how they contribute to company goals.
4. Learning and Communication
Promote a culture of continuous learning. Host weekly calls, share effective strategies, learn from challenges, and pinpoint process-enhancement opportunities. Bring departments together to understand how each operates and generate new ideas.
5. Operational Efficiency
Always be looking for a better way of operating. Streamline everything and optimize resources for a smoother journey. Don’t fall victim to execution mode and take action without understanding why. Take a holistic view – ask the difficult questions.
Follow these principles, and you’ll elevate your team’s performance and attract acquisition offers. Lean on our team, too. Stay focused and committed. Don’t give up! You’ll encounter challenges and fatigue, but we’re here to help you build a high-performance company that buyers can’t resist.