Deal originators share a common lament. They miss hearing about far too many deals that would have landed right in their firm’s wheelhouse.
Missing out on relevant transactions stings. It’s especially painful when the deal originator had taken steps to stay on the radar of the seller’s investment banker—to no avail.
Deal intermediaries—the best ones, anyway—get inundated with in-bound inquiries. Their first duty is to serve their clients. Particularly in limited auctions, they simply can’t send teasers to every sponsor who’s ever called them, no matter how good the fit.
Below are top tips for raising your batting average when swinging for relevant deals. They’re compiled from remarks made over the past year by Steve Hunter, managing director, TM Capital, and Mark Filippell, managing director, Citizens M&A Advisory. They come from programs and videos sponsored by deal sourcing platform provider Sutton Place Strategies:
- Make sure your marketing materials are descriptive and well-designed. Your one-pager in particular should present a detailed, accurate picture of what kinds of deals you’re targeting. Sure, you can tell investment bankers to just send you every one of their deals. But many won’t do that. Their clients hired them to be selective.
- Do your homework before making phone calls and setting up meetings. Before a first contact, learn all you can about the deal intermediary and her firm. What deals has she done of late? What people do you know in common? For old contacts, look at your call records. When did you last talk? What did you talk about? What deals has she shown you? Be prepared to answer questions about your own firm’s portfolio and recent deals.
Avoid excuses such as being too new to the firm to say, or such as not having worked on a particular deal.
- Invest in a robust CRM or note-taking system. Without one, you won’t be able to do your homework, as recommended above. Moreover, if an investment banker says she’ll have a relevant deal coming to market in a month, you’ll be reminded to make the follow-up call. “You can tell when the people whom you interact with really have their act together,” said Hunter.
- Figure out beforehand the point of your planned phone call or meeting. Did your firm just acquire a company that will serve as a platform for a buy-and-build strategy? That’s a reason to reach out to investment bankers. But if you’re simply trying to meet your quota of calls for the month, you’re unlikely to leave a positive impression. “Start off with something that engages me,” advises Filippell. “Like, Congratulations on closing this deal…Or, I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal and I’d like your comment on it because you know this area.”
- Look for ways to add value. Did an investment banker recently pick up a mandate for a company that’s outside your investment scope? See it as an opportunity to be helpful. Suggest some corporations or financial buyers that would be natural buyers for the company—or suggest executives in your rolodex who would be great sources to talk to. Take the long view. Deal intermediaries will remember that you were generous with your knowledge and time. They’ll look to return the favor.
- Give a timely yes or no when you are shown a deal. Nothing frustrates an investment banker more than having to chase you down for an answer. “When we market a deal, we’ll show it to over 100 people, sometimes 200,” says Filippell. “Don’t go silent and assume it will be taken as a ‘no.’ Give us an answer, please!” He adds: “People want to see deals…And then you show them a deal and we have to call them back three or four times, email them, text them, just to get an answer.”
- Reward investment bankers that show you deals with your own mandates. Private equity realpolitik demands that you recognize this aspect of relationship-building. This one is a tough ask for junior or mid-level professionals who don’t make decisions about which investment bankers to hire. You don’t want to overstate your influence. But let deal intermediaries know what you’re doing to steer business their way.
- Don’t put off making phone calls. Not forgetting our earlier advice to have a purpose to each call, don’t make a related mistake either. Is your gut telling you to reach out to an investment banker? Don’t wait a month only to find out that the window on their latest deal has closed. “When in doubt, make the phone call,” says Hunter. “The worst thing that happens is the person doesn’t answer or they tell you no.”
Last week’s deals today
January 17 – January 23
~136 deals traded
Deal of the week
Cost Plus World Market, a California-based chain of specialty retail stores specializing in home goods and imported food & beverages, was acquired by Kingswood Capital Management as a divestiture from Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. B. Riley & Co. acted as the sell-side financial advisor.
Most active subsectors
- IT: Software & services
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- Food: Consumable food products
- Financial: Insurance
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Most active cities
- New York