For decades, the Microsoft channel has attracted entrepreneurs and technologists committed to serving business customers. As these partner organizations grow, their focus evolves with the market and Microsoft’s priorities. And over time, the leaders of these companies change their own plans and goals.

Andy Neal, CEO of Phoenix-based Microsoft partner NEALABC, recently celebrated the acquisition of his company by another distribution company, Heartland Business Systems. He shared details of his experience in the sales process for other partners who may be considering an exit.

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The origins of NEALABC can be traced back to 2003, when Neal and his father teamed up to provide business training, planning methodologies, and support for major CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, SalesLogix, and Salesforce. Along the way, the two entrepreneurs decided to focus on Dynamics. He explained:

Our bread and butter are Dynamics, especially CE, Field Service, Business Central, Power Apps and Power Apps Portals, always with a keen sense of business consulting. We help clients select software, get a return on their technology spend, and make real change in their organization.

A few years ago, Neal’s father retired and his brother joined the business. Around the same time, the company started receiving cold calls and emails regarding its acquisition.

Some [early] the offers seemed to want to assimilate us as the Borg, in their model. They weren’t as receptive to collaborating in a way that would make sense to everyone involved and fit in in the long run to get 1 + 1 equals 2.5 instead of -1, which happens in many mergers and acquisitions. I felt culture was the right solution, the number one deciding factor.

Neal initially pushed back most of the offers, but began to take more and more interest as potentially qualified buyers reached out and expressed a vision that matched his own.

[Deciding on a buyer] was really a question of cultural fit. With the type of merger we were going to do, me being the owner, I wanted to continue working, contributing, and getting involved in a team. We really wanted to merge with someone to help us put some gas on the fire. They weren’t looking to stifle our creativity, but to increase and really collaborate. They saw value in what we had.

When he came to an agreement with Heartland Business Services, Neal said the execution of the agreement went fairly quickly but quietly.