About the Guest Stacy West is the Chief Marketing Officer at insight software, a leading provider of financial reporting and enterprise performance management software. With over 35 years of experience, Stacy oversees the company’s brand strategy, product marketing, demand generation, communications, and digital strategy. Connect with Stacy West Key Takeaways Inorganic growth has been a primary strategy at insight software, which has made 20 acquisitions in the past three years, but organic growth is also part of the vision for a world-class presence. When it comes to M&A, marketing due diligence is its own animal apart from tech due diligence. Stacy uses various metrics to measure a prospective acquisition’s level of maturity, its marketing capabilities, and the degree to which it will require resources to grow and integrate. The single fastest way to promote a smooth transition into working together towards unified goals is to let targets of acquisition know as early as possible – through clear, transparent communication – the impacts and expectations. Even those who are disgruntled generally find a way to move on and focus on performing as part of a team once they’ve got a sense of clarity about the landscape. Speak up and reach out. As CMO, Stacy welcomes team members at any level to make suggestions, take on additional responsibility, and proactively vocalize ideas. Even in highly energized growth environments, the self-starting initiative is valued and rewarded with accessibility and development opportunities. Quote “There will always be bumps in the road with acquisitions … There’s always going to be things that you didn’t expect. Figure out where you can help, offer suggestions, make things smoother. Be vocal in a positive way. Put ideas forward.” Highlights From the Episode How is insight software deploying organic versus inorganic engines for growth? With 20 acquisitions in just the past three years, M&A has been playing a critical role at insight software but the company equally values organic growth, which is part of the company’s balanced approach to the goal of being a truly world-class company that not only purchases but also develops and grows products and companies. What’s the role of marketing within the context of M&A? It really starts in the due diligence process. You want to of course make sure you have a good product to sell after closing the deal, so tech due diligence is important. But from a marketing perspective, we’re looking for where prospective acquisitions are in terms of maturity. What KPIs (key performance indicators) are they tracking? How are they running things operationally? It tells me where they are in the spectrum as far as the level of resources that will be necessary to grow the operation. It’s important to look at how they run things, how automated is their lead flow and what’s the relationship between product and marketing? What are the dynamics among marketing, engineering, and sales? What can marketing managers/leaders do to ease the acquisition process? Every transaction is unique but some level of anxiety about change and the unknown is consistent across the board. Stacy believes that transparency and clear communication as early in the process as possible is the single best strategy for quelling concerns about changing roles, salary, or staff cuts. The more people are distracted with their own personal worries and questions, the less they are available to build the team, integrate and grow the company. Any advice for individual contributors who want to ensure that they’re making the acquisition as smooth as possible, both for themselves and the entire staff? Stacy tries to set up one-on-ones immediately with any new members of a marketing team – not with any big agenda other than a simple starting point for establishing a relationship. She is looking for those individuals who are interested in offering feedback, brainstorming and looking for places where they can plugin and make a contribution. Don’t be afraid to reach out proactively and make yourself available. The culture at insight (which is growing exponentially) very much embraces collaboration and accessibility – and looks for individuals who are killing it in their jobs and hungry to take on yet more. At the marketing leadership level, the responsibility is to provide the necessary background info and answer the FAQs to help orient employees as integration evolves. Recommended Reading/Resources Stacy is currently obsessed with the podcast Business Wars, which she finds fascinating both for the narratives of titanic battles among brands and for the marketing element as it figures into each story’s outcome. Anything by Scott Stratten is required reading, including his book “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging” (co-authored with Alison Kramer) and his podcasts and tutorials, which are available on the Unmarketing website.