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Private equity and investment banking firms must find a new path forward to stay successful in today’s slower market. For many, this means becoming more data-driven than ever before. From proactively pursuing the right deals to developing market expertise and improving process efficiencies, data is the key to survival. That’s why the most successful firms utilize a deal sourcing platform.
But what exactly is a deal sourcing platform, and how do you know if you’ve found the right one for your firm? Keep scrolling as we break it all down!
A deal sourcing platform helps private equity, venture capital, investment banking, and other types of investment-focused financial firms find new investment opportunities. These platforms are designed to help dealmakers quickly identify and understand target companies, research relevant markets and sub-sectors, and evaluate potential transactions.
They have data on myriad companies — transacted and non-transacted, public and private — but different deal sourcing software may specialize in certain types of companies. So, it's important to choose the right platform for your firm and its investment strategy. To do that, here are the top features you should look for.
The first feature that any deal sourcing platform must have is a lot of data. And while there is a ton of readily available data for public companies, information on private companies is much harder to find. This is especially true for those that have yet to transact, otherwise known as bootstrapped or founder-owned companies.
If your firm is on the lookout for early-stage, proprietary opportunities, then it’s important to choose a deal sourcing platform that offers more than just the information you can learn from a company’s website. This includes everything from basic profile information like industry and founder contact details to signal data like current job openings and employee counts.
Data signals are highly-valuable and specific data points that indicate private company growth and investment readiness. Some additional examples are:
Most deal sourcing platforms employ artificial intelligence (AI) to find and standardize company data. But AI lacks the context and reasoning that humans have. So what sets the best deal sourcing platforms apart is two-fold:
First, humans and technology work together to collect, structure, and verify data. The best platforms use AI and then temper it with knowledge workers to ensure models remain accurate as markets evolve. This results in better data integrity and quality, so your team never misses an opportunity.
Second, good deal sourcing software cross-references its data. This means using multiple sources — in some cases thousands of sources — and ensuring data accuracy by double- and triple-checking data points before they ever reach your team. Some platforms even offer custom research options to help you quickly scrub down additional lead lists.
Firms are growing increasingly specialized and turning to thematic investing strategies or thesis-driven sourcing to pinpoint companies that match their specific areas of expertise. Your deal sourcing platform should make it easy for you to rapidly filter and search through thousands of companies across all of its sources using your unique investment criteria. From there, it should be easy to not only create your own lead lists, but to also clearly map and understand your markets of interest.
The best deal sourcing platforms, however, go one step further and empower dealmakers to distinguish “good” deals from those that offer the best fit, highest potential returns, and greatest propensity to close. They do this through custom scoring, or determining the value of and assigning corresponding weights to specific data points. Dealmakers can then use these scores to prioritize opportunities accordingly.
Trade shows and conferences back. In fact, 63% of marketers plan to host in-person events within the next 1 to 2 years, and the majority of dealmakers are still using networking and conferences as part of their deal sourcing efforts.
To best take advantage of the return of events, your deal sourcing platform must be able to support your conference planning strategy. One way is by allowing you to filter conference lists based on key investment criteria to pinpoint which trade shows relevant targets plan to attend. Another way leading firms use these platforms is to find reasons to reach out to attendees to build rapport and set up meetings with them ahead of time.
As one VP of Research at a leading San Francisco-based private equity firm explains, “There was this one time we had zero intention of attending a particular trade show, but we found out through SourceScrub that one of our top companies was going to be there. So we decided to go and wound up planning an entire trip around it.”
In addition to helping you actively search for new deals, a deal sourcing platform should also work for you behind the scenes 24/7. The best solutions update data about your top targets on a regular and frequent basis, so you’re always working with the most up-to-date information possible. Some deal sourcing software will even automatically push this information to your firm’s CRM (more on this in the next section).
One of the hallmarks of a leading deal sourcing solution is alerts for new information about relevant opportunities, competitors, and portfolio companies. These notifications not only help your firm stay on top of market dynamics and identify all types of opportunities —e.g., mergers, add-on acquisitions, etc. — but they also surface key events like new executive hires or media coverage, which your firm can use as timely excuses to reach out to and develop relationships with targets.
Regardless of how much data you have — or even how clean and accurate it is — it isn't helpful when it's siloed away and difficult to access. Your deal sourcing platform must be able to work effortlessly with your entire tech stack to surface information to your team when and where they need it.
For instance, let's say you find a perfect investment opportunity. Your deal sourcing platform should be able to track this company and then sync that info to your CRM. There, you can incorporate data from other platforms in your tech stack, creating an end-to-end view of all company information and what interactions your firm has had with the founders, what stage the deal is in, etc. With a 2-way integration, your deal sourcing software and your CRM are constantly aligned, so your team always has up-to-date information.
The best deal sourcing platforms, however, go beyond this by integrating with your data warehouse and advanced reporting tools. They often have direct integrations or available APIs through which you can pass information to create proprietary data models and gain valuable insights.
The right deal sourcing platform for you will help your firm build a proprietary advantage and streamline your dealmaking processes. It will have the data you need, offer the tools to help your team make the best use of this data, and seamlessly become a part of your team's day-to-day.
As the economy braces for a recession, a deal sourcing platform could mean the successor failure of your firm, so it's important to get your choice right. Here are the 6 questions to ask when evaluating your next deal sourcing platform.