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3 Things Dealmakers Can Learn From Political Campaigns


In this controversial election year, political campaigns are top of mind for many Americans, including deal professionals.

Meanwhile, recent reports of low M&A activity have pinpointed election uncertainty as one of the top causes of the downturn.

Faced with lagging deal flow, focusing on business development can help increase returns down the line. And turns out that the very presidential campaigns in part causing the unrest may have a few things to teach you when it comes to improving BD efforts.

1. Get the right tools.

For modern political campaigns, technology can make or break the effectiveness of a campaign. The ability to share information quickly and effectively enables team members to streamline decision-making processes and take action.

The same is true for deal professionals, no matter how big your firm. We’ve written before about helpful tools for deal professionals, but the key is to find technology that works for you both at home and on the road. If you haven’t committed already, your CRM is a great place to start — here’s how today’s deal professionals are using CRMs, along with 7 tips for a successful implementation

2. Be obsessive about data.

Following Barack Obama’s victorious 2012 presidential campaign, Slate reported that campaign manager Jim Messina’s “obsession with measuring and collecting data paid off, but not because he abandoned the human aspect of politics — just the opposite.” Messina had “made repeated bets about human nature,” compiling and analyzing information about human and online outreach to get a clear snapshot of the landscape for his candidate.

For deal professionals, tracking relationships data; tiering your contacts; and logging information about trips, conferences, meetings, and other interactions will give you a much richer and more accurate picture of the market and help you prioritize future business development activities more effectively. Combine a laser-sharp focus on data with a commitment to nurturing individual relationships — make an effort to remember names and interests, fit in in-person visits when you can, pay deals that don’t fit your criteria forward to your network, etc. — and you’ll see the ROI payoff in the near- and long-term.

3. Allocate your resources effectively.

For political campaigns, the budget revolves around the number of votes needed to win. For deal professionals, your budget should start with the number of deals you want to close in a given year. Use our free Deal Sourcing ROI Calculator to track your estimated overall business development budget and calculate how efficient and effective each deal sourcing channel is for your firm (e.g., events vs. online platforms vs. proprietary deal flow). This information will help ensure that you’re spending money on the activities that have the highest return on investment.

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