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Private Equity

BD Best Practices While You’re Heads Down on a Deal


For boutique investors, keeping up with business development efforts while moving a deal down the funnel may feel close to impossible. This is particularly true for firms without a dedicated BD professional. “There aren’t enough hours in a day,” is a refrain our BD consultants hear frequently from Axial members.

But completely deprioritizing BD during a deal push means no warm leads once that deal closes — or worse yet, once it falls apart. With sellers’ valuation expectations through the roof, and all the ordinary perils of dealmaking well intact, that’s not a risk any investor should be taking.

Even the leanest team can spare a few minutes a week to devote to business development.

Hold yourself accountable.

As any investor knows, relationships take time to develop and deals almost always take longer than expected to come your way. When you’re heads down on a deal in diligence, it’s fine to set a low bar for new contacts. But make sure that bar isn’t zero.

For most small firms, two or three introductions to high-quality intermediaries per month is probably a healthy amount to shoot for. These might come via search on an online platform like Axial, an in-person networking event, or through an existing contact. Set up a calendar reminder for mid-way through the month to make sure you hit your target.

It’s normal to be less opportunistic when you’re heads down on a deal. But don’t flip the switch entirely.

Set and forget.

Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of digital marketing channels that you can automate so that they don’t get in the way of pressing activities around your current deal.

Email, social media, and paid advertising are all potential channels to get your firm name, areas of interest, and value-add to a larger audience — without much investment on your end. Waiting for something back from your lawyer or your target’s management team? Take 30 minutes to schedule a couple of emails or LinkedIn posts to go out to your list of contacts in the next month.

Reiterate your value add and what sectors and deal sizes you’re interested in. Every impression matters — if the right person sees your name at the right time, the rest could be history.

Deals come from the darndest of places, and your next one could very well come from a social media update or a quick email blast.

Give and take.

Reciprocity is the busy BD professional’s best friend. Someone send a deal your way that’s not a fit? It takes 15 seconds to respond with a “no, thanks.” It takes 45 (we’re estimating here) to forward that deal onto another firm who might be. “Thought of you—” is as much as you need to say. Those thirty seconds and three words could be enough for the firm to pay the favor forward to you a few months down the line.

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