Once there is a deal and a letter of intent is in place, there are things a buyer can do out in front of the deal that can make the post-close process smoother.

Priiva Consulting Corporation Principal Bill Forquer says his firm's standard model is to retain the incumbent CEO or president to stay with the new business. So, part of their assessment involves determining if the incumbent president or CEO is the right fit. For instance, do they have the hearts and minds of their employees? If so and they stay, then the new company is getting the employees, very likely the customers, too. But to do that, there has to be something in it for the potentially former leader.

"For us, that was one of the biggest decisions we were assessing is how well would this work," Forquer says. "And part of the riddle of that is asking that incumbent president or CEO to trust that there's going to be a meaningful role. It's certainly not going to be the role that they have running their business independently. What's a meaningful role that they could have in the new company? And that role might not get defined for three, six, nine, 12 months down the road after acquisition."

To try to assuage any concerns, Forquer says they built their entire executive team out of former presidents of companies that they had acquired.

"We called it the Dead Presidents Club," he says. "We sent somebody from the Dead Presidents Club on every initial meeting to start to sell to that CEO on life after the acquisition. You can write a new chapter with your customers, with your technology, with your employees, but you got to give up some stuff, too. And no better way to convince them that that can work then to have somebody that had actually lived it. So for us, it was a huge part from day one all the way up until the time the deal got done."

Stewart Title Group Senior Vice President Sean Stoner says being well prepared as a buyer puts you in a good situation with the seller.

"If you have a template or if you have a process that you use for due diligence on the business side, get that to the seller as fast as possible and work through it with them and make it easy for them because they still have their day job," he says. "It's one of those things where that can really help streamline the process."

He adds that it's important to build out your M&A team so that you're always prepared because you might not know when it's going to be a market to start buying. By being able to get a team in place as fast as possible that's dedicated to the execution of the acquisitions, it can streamline the process. He suggest dividing the teams into an M&A acquisition team that's concentrating on hunting and buying, and an integration team that's just concentrating on how to then integrate the acquired company and its people into the system.

Forquer says making acquisitions, especially as a strategic, can be challenging. So, business leaders can benefit from having a strong number two sitting behind them in their functional area to take over when a deal calls.

"At any point in time, you could get drug into this black hole of an acquisition and post-acquisition integration and you just sort of need to put your functional day job on autopilot with your number two because you're going to be all consumed," he says.

He says he didn't we didn't have dedicated team from the beginning. It's something a company has to grow into.

"Everybody knew that you could get drafted for acquisition integration almost at any point in time and it was going to be an upheaval for what you were trying to do with your own area," Forquer says. "But that's just sort of the way it was. And you'd go away maybe for six months, working on that, and come back to your functional area after that was over."

He says he's also had a lot of success having the executive sponsor, or the senior person from the company, also be a Dead President, because it's a good way to appreciate the challenges the person is going when they can connect with somebody who's already felt the pain of pulling their own company through the knothole of acquisition integration.