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For Sell-Side Advisors, Searching Online Leads to More Closed Deals


What’s the best way to find a buyer?

The answer could be as simple as “search.”

An Axial survey found that 89% of CEOs and bankers research potential partners online before taking any other action. Learning more about a firm is one thing. But data from the Axial network shows that this search activity might result not only in more informed sellers, but in more successful deals.

For 75% of deals closed on and off the network, the seller used Axial search to proactively look for buyers between the send date and close date of the deal. On average, sellers and sell-side advisors used Axial search 29 times during the deal process.

This indicates that sellers and sell-side advisors who are highly engaged online, and who proactively pursue interactions with buyers, are far more likely to get a deal done.

In general, the more interactions on Axial the better the results. In 90% of closed deals, sellers experienced meaningful connections on Axial throughout the deal process. This might mean buyers pursued their deals, exchanged messages with them, or signed NDAs.

Successful sellers received an average of 31 connections during the deal process. This is in addition to offline connections that inevitably occur through the deal process with Axial contacts, e.g., phone calls, in-person meetings, and interactions at Axial events.

More search seems to equal more success for dealmakers on both the buy-side and sell-side. Investment banks who have found success on Axial use search 3x more often than the general investment bank member population.

But there’s an important caveat to that figure, says Fredrika Slikkers, a BD consultant to investment banks on Axial. “Targeted messages are what really work. Investment banks who use Axial search to identify and message 2 or 3 companies a week tend to see much more success than those who send templated messages to 10 companies a day.”

Don’t turn every message into a self-involved, long-winded marketing pitch. Outreach should always be customized. Here are a few best practices:

  • Establish a connection: Briefly share your industry expertise or a similar past client
  • Show you’ve done your homework: Tell them something that you think is interesting about their company from their website or press coverage
  • Ask a question: Give them a reason to respond! Focus on how they run their business, rather than on the deal
  • Suggest a time to talk: Ask to discuss something concrete, giving the recipient a choice of two times

Slikkers recommends connecting with the recipient over something interesting on their website, or sharing insight on trends in their industry. A banker might mention a relevant deal they’ve done in the space — but spending two or three paragraphs on the bank’s history and mandate is almost always a turn-off for CEOs. Says Slikkers, “Quality over quantity really applies here.”

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