Did you know: One in every three CRM projects fall short of expectations? While every organization is different, we hear many of the same factors cited as reasons for CRM systems not delivering the expected outcome, including lack of consensus, lack of clear goals, and lack of user adoption. So how can your organization ensure it’s part of the 66% of those who find success?
It’s no secret that marketing acts as an effective inbound business development tool. Look no further than financial services giants like Goldman Sachs who embrace the latest digital trends to assert their brand, highlight their offerings, and maintain credibility.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated business development or marketing manager at your firm, simple marketing efforts are extremely effective in helping your firm stay top of mind in a crowded, competitive marketplace.
Listed below are a few simple, but important pieces of “real estate” that should have special attention from your firm if you want to ensure steady, high quality dealflow in the months and years to come.
Business owners and buyers are savvier than ever, and are guaranteed to rely on the internet to learn about your firm. If your website is old and outdated, small tweaks such as adding a “Contact Us” form, adding photographs and biographies of your team members, clearly and concisely defining your expertise/deal criteria, and highlighting the transactions you’ve completed will help increase the likelihood of connection.
If your firm already has these features, consider looking into how your firm appears in search results for keywords and phrases. Think about if from the lens of buyer and seller: if a business owner searches for “Business broker in Nashville,” will you appear? Similarly, you’ll want to be visible if a strategic acquirer searches for “healthcare services investment bank San Jose.”
Most industry professionals will tell you that deal origination does not happen on social media. However, most professionals (including business owners) are on LinkedIn.
Not surprisingly, people like the ability to “put a face to a name” and appreciate the opportunity to learn about an individual’s experience, education and skills before doing business together. While LinkedIn may not necessarily be viewed as a business development platform at your firm, easy updates such as ensuring everyone has headshots, has industry expertise listed, and has their personal profile connected to the firm’s company page can help buyers and sellers more quickly vet your team.
Many firms use LinkedIn as a business development channel, sending and receiving messages from business owners and buyers outside of their existing network. If this is a strategy your firm employs, keep it honest, and keep it organized. Take stock of the various private messages your team members send, ensure there’s no duplication, and pay special attention to the way the firm and its interests are being positioned.
While warm introductions are obviously preferable in this relationship-driven business, email programs remain an important aspect of business development. If your firm hasn’t taken the plunge and purchased an email marketing software, it is recommended that the firm at least set standards for email practices and email signatures. Ensuring that all signatures link to the firm website and the individual’s LinkedIn, for example, can help drive significant traffic.
If your firm does use an email marketing software, or is exploring doing so, it’s critically important to consider how these communications are being tracked and leveraged. What good is sending a deal teaser if your team can’t keep track of who it was sent to, who passed on it, and who was interested? Thinking strategically about your day-to-day communications via email can help your firm connect the dots more quickly and make decisions more quickly.
Connect it all to your CRM
Don’t assume that digital marketing efforts and day-to-day communications can’t win you business – they can! If your systems are in sync, the more likely it is that your team will connect the dots and triangulate the relationships that lead to deals closing.
Not sure where to start? Our team of account managers and integration specialists understand the complexities of dealmaking, business development and marketing. We can help your team bridge the gaps through smart, custom technology solutions that fit your needs.
In the current competitive climate of the private capital markets, it’s easy to understand how and why an investment banker could be complacent: the universe of buyers is so large, and so diverse. Even small add-on deals are getting attention from sophisticated buyers with long-term roll-up plans. While the “if you build it, they will come” strategy works for many, it’s far from a best-in-class practice.
Sponsor relationships require attention and care – especially those with the buying power that sellers expect to receive in exchange for the banker’s fee or retainer. Neglecting those relationships in a “seller’s market” is not only foolish, but costly.
In this article, we review four ways for investment bankers to perform a “sponsor relationship health” self-assessment of sorts that is sure to kick-start business development efforts as we head into the busy season.
Who do we really care about?
It’s critical that you and your team have opinions about which sponsors you want to cover and how often. While having a broad base of sponsors to choose from is valuable, it’s also important to assess which of the high-powered buyers you’ve reached out to in the past two years (and will expect more deals from you), and who else besides the usual characters could become valuable contacts in the years to come.
For example, if your firm is pursuing a industry-based business development strategy for finding sellers to represent, and as such is attending many industry-specific conferences, a best practice would be to target those sponsors who will also be in attendance.
Having categorization systems for these high-powered sponsors is an easy, effective way to streamline your teams relationship-building efforts. This categorization/tiering system will help dictate how often sponsors should receive general communications from the firm, and which deals they should receive.
How long has it been?
One such tool that investment banks love to leverage for relationship-building is the “Days Since Last Activity” filter. This function, found conveniently within a CRM platform, makes it easy to look up how long it’s been since you, or someone on your team, has spoken with certain key contacts or organizations.
When leveraging this tool, we always suggest doing your “future self” favors: if there’s a relationship that needs development, set triggers within your CRM system to remind you to reach back out. For investment bankers, we suggest tailoring the cadence of outreach based on buyer type. For example, large and hungry private equity firms likely don’t mind getting “check-in” calls from bankers once a month. Corporate development professionals, however, may be more receptive to a well-timed, curated email.
No matter how long it has been since your last conversation, make sure to log and look up notes about what was discussed, so it can be referenced during the next meeting. This will help your team pick up the relationship right where it left off.
Do we know their buying power?
Another way to identify and strengthen relationships with high-value groups is to track their buying power explicitly within your CRM. We’ve seen many investment banking firms diligently track data like fundraising activity, volume of closed transactions and bids in order to assign a “buying power” score for the sponsors that they cover.
Having a sense for buying power makes for endless relationship-building (or rekindling if it’s been a long time since the last discussion) and business development opportunities: If they’ve just closed a fund, put out a call to hear about their strike zone. If their portfolio company just closed three add-ons, be sure to discuss the exit/sale timeline in your next meeting. If they submitted a particularly high bid on a deal of yours, have them detail what made them so excited about the transaction.
This type of transparency will help your team execute on its business development efforts more quickly, and with more confidence. It will also make for stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
Who are we missing?
Total sponsor coverage is something that all firms pursue, but is also extremely difficult to obtain. That’s why it’s so important to regularly evaluate who is missing from your stable of sponsors, and what pitfalls exist in your processes that are prohibiting you from this goal. If you do have identified inefficiencies that you’d like to work on, you don’t have to go it alone.
We’ve helped countless investment banks of all sizes optimize or re-vamp their sponsor coverage model and strategy – talk to us to learn more.
In a recent interview with Mergers & Acquisitions, Eric Petersen of Abacus Finance said: “The private equity industry today is extremely competitive. There’s been a lot of capital raised, and a lot of funds, which is driving a very frothy market and making it very difficult for firms to differentiate themselves.”
One major challenge facing investment banking and private equity firms today is transparency (or lack thereof). We’re constantly hearing that information share and cross-team coordination remain a huge hurdle for these firms to overcome, and that there’s few guide resources available for righting the course.