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Advisors, Private Equity

7 Travel Best Practices Every Dealmaker Should Know


Time is a valuable commodity. If you’re planning on using yours to travel, it’s important to spend it as efficiently as possible. That means being at the top of your game when it comes to communication, preparedness, and creativity.

Here are a few suggestions for how to best use your time on the road.

1) Know What Success Looks Like

Before heading out of town, have goals that you plan to measure against.

The most common goal for deal professionals centers around the number of meetings that actually take place. For every day that you’re out of the office, how many meetings do you need to hold to deem the trip worthwhile? This number can shift depending on the types of meetings you’re having — informational, post-NDA, pre-close, etc. —  but in order to determine ROI, every firm should have a viewpoint on what determines success.

2) Think Outside of the Box

Business trips are by no means novel to deal professionals, and you likely have your planning and processes down to a T. That being said, next time you’re out of town, why not change up your normal routine?

For example, rather than jet in and out for a management meeting or conference, tack on an extra day to source deals in the area. You can take advantage of the travel time that you’ve already put in, and potentially eliminate a future deal sourcing trip.

Another way to take advantage of travel that’s already on the books is to step out of the city limits. If you’re heading to Chicago, for example, look at firms and companies in the surrounding area (Axial search filters makes it easy to do this!), and plan to rent a car to make the office visits.

3) Lock Down Your Schedule

Once you’ve decided whom you’d like to meet with on your trip (using your CRM or Axial search) pitch the meeting with a gusto that no one can deny.

Before you reach out, do your research. Prepare relevant talking points to demonstrate why it will be worthwhile to meet with you. Reference things like average deal size, industries of interest, or a representative deal. Working mutual interests into your conversation will also help.

When you do finally connect, kick off your call or email with a warm introduction. If you’re able to get an intro from someone else, that’s great. Otherwise, find something personal with which to lead. This could be an alma mater, prior work experience, a shared LinkedIn connection, or an event that you’ve both attended. Starting a conversation with something other than a business formality will go a long way.

Finally, send over a firm one-pager and request that they send one over as well. A firm’s marketing PDF will usually dive a bit deeper than their website, and you’ll be able to go into your meeting showing that you’ve done your due diligence. Don’t forget to upload their one-sheet to your CRM to ensure that you have current records on file.

4) Eliminate Room for Error

There are plenty of things that can change during travel; don’t let that affect the quality of your trip. If you prepare for the worst-case scenario, you’ll never be left in a lurch when things don’t go as planned.

One easy way to do this is to create a backup list of people (with their contact information) that would be valuable in-person connections. That way, if you finish a meeting early or come across a cancellation, you can easily reach out and fill in your schedule. In order to avoid an awkward call, shoot them a note ahead of the trip letting them know that you will be in town and would love to meet if your schedule allows; that way, if you do reach out, it won’t come as a surprise.

Another simple way to ensure flexibility is to have an easily-accessible list of all of your meetings, including who you’re meeting with, a headshot (so you can easily find him/her in a crowd), a cell phone number, and an address for the meeting place. It will also be helpful to map out your meetings ahead of time and have travel routes planned between each. In the event that you’re running late or can’t remember who you’re meeting with, you’ll be able to avoid a last-minute scramble.

5) Extend Your Reach

Two heads (or three, or six) are better than one. If you’re heading to a prospect-rich destination, set up a small event and meet with multiple people at once. This can be as simple as a four-person dinner, or as expansive as a 30-person happy hour. Regardless of how many people you host, an event will allow you to be more effective with a single time slot.

6) Don’t Ignore Existing Deal Flow

Check out 4 Tips for Maintaining Deal Flow to read some best-practices on how to stay on top of deals when you’re out of the office.

7) Log the Trip Accordingly

Organization is key for business travel, and that principal extends to follow up as well. In order to ensure that you can continue to reap success from your efforts in the future, implement a system to efficiently tie up loose ends as soon as you get back into the office.

If you keep organized notes from each of your meetings, you can easily upload these to your CRM. These, in addition to your emails and the materials you got from the firm prior to the meeting, will mean you have a solid chunk of centrally located and easily accessible information.

Last but not least, close the loop with each and every person you met with, even if you’ve decided not to move forward with a deal at the moment. By following up with each person and making it a point to thank them for their time, you’re leaving the door open for future deals and partnerships.

Planning your next trip? Join us in New York on October 22nd for Axial’s annual full-day business development conference, Axial Concord. Sign up now and gain access to structured networking, facilitated introductions, and ample time for one-on-one meetings. We’ll even help you schedule meetings around the event!


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