If you’re in the dealmaking industry, you could probably use a vacation right about now. 2021 has been a singular year, sandwiched between the depths of the COVID experience and a historic deal surge that’s left most firms over-worked and under-staffed.
As we get closer to 2022, the future has never been so unpredictable. However, dealmakers can count on one thing: competition will be fierce. With most firms having developed at least some direct sourcing capabilities, differentiating your firm from the competition has never been more urgent.
That’s why for our latest webinar we brought together a panel of business development, marketing, and leadership experts to discuss dealmaking trends and successes they’ve had. Here are 3 important ways our experts believe firms can stand out from the crowd and prepare their pipelines for the new year.
#1: Be More than a Capital Partner
Domain expertise, market intelligence, and proprietary resources are quickly becoming the driving forces behind winning deals. That’s why more dealmakers have transitioned from generalist firms to focusing on specific sectors.
Pairing investment with unique competency builds trust and credibility with founders and operators. “You don’t want to be overly prescriptive with management teams,” shares Alpine Investors’ Director of Business Development Ajeet Gautam, “but at the same time you need to provide resources where you can be helpful. So we’ve got internal pricing resources, sales ops, marketing, technology — we have dedicated individuals in each of those categories that can jump into different portfolio companies and help.”
Another way PE firms can add value is by helping portfolio companies develop add-on strategies. Some firms, like LFM Capital, map out potential add-ons during the company research and thesis development process to help make their offers more compelling and competitive. Ajeet and his colleagues at Alpine provide a corporate development program where they teach portfolio companies how to run their own M&A strategies.
#2: Use Marketing to Amplify Deal Momentum
Top firms aren’t just “riding the wave” of post-pandemic deals — they’re proactively looking for ways to amplify this momentum and generate even more pipeline for 2022. “There is a lot of energy around capturing momentum from all of the deals that are going to close this year and using that to push into the next year,” shares Tricia Forbes, Vice President at MiddleM Creative.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through content marketing and communications. “We’ve seen firms really put a lot of resources and energy into creating thought leadership content that’s based around their unique experience and value-add,” Tricia continues. “They tell stories and talk about the way they’ve impacted portfolio companies. If you do it from a storytelling perspective versus from a conceptual perspective, it really hits home.”
Not only is telling these stories effective through direct marketing outreach, but Tricia also suggests leveraging storytelling within press releases when announcing strategic new deals. Directly following the press release, writing sector-specific thought leadership pieces for relevant trade publications and doing video interviews with portfolio management teams are also useful tactics to keep the momentum going.
#3: Combine Sourcing Technology and Training
Direct sourcing is becoming an increasingly important means of differentiation as firms grow more thesis-driven and sector-focused. “You’re seeing folks in dealmaking that have relied on traditional means of sourcing deals move to a very proactive approach,” explains SourceScrub Co-founder and CEO Tyler Fair.
Dealmakers like Alpine invest in both technology and people to build a successful direct sourcing motion. According to Ajeet, “There’s the list-building phase and making sure you’re going after the right market and generating the highest quality leads, and then there’s the actual conversations and engagements with those businesses. SourceScrub has been a tremendous tool for us on the list-building side, and then we combine technology like that with the right training on how to engage founders.”
Tricia suggests list tiering and combining the science of data and email automation with the art of personalization. “If you have really good data and you can understand who is worth putting time into for more personalized outreach, that becomes a really valuable effort,” she says. “Have a list of 100 top companies that you really want to focus on nailing that perfect way to approach, and then a tier-2 bucket where you can create really good content about what’s going on in the industry and weave in how you help companies.”
Preparing Your Firm to Standout in 2022
Adding value for portfolio companies, amplifying current deal volume through content marketing, and pairing people and technology to supercharge direct sourcing efforts are just a few of the ways leading firms can differentiate themselves in the new year.
For more proven tips and best practices, watch the full webinar on-demand: Preparing Your Pipeline for 2022:Creating a Virtuous Cycle Through Smart Marketing and BD Strategies.