3 Ways to Generate M&A Deal Flow in the COVID Chaos

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M&A and deal-making is in a fascinating place, amid this COVID whirlwind. “Are there sellers?” “Are there buyers?” “Are valuations diluted?” “Will our deals fall apart last minute?” Yes. To all of the above (and on exponential levels). However...is deal flow dried up?

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M&A and deal-making is in a fascinating place, amid this COVID whirlwind.

“Are there sellers?”

“Are there buyers?”

“Are valuations diluted?”

“Will our deals fall apart last minute?”

Yes. To all of the above (and on exponential levels).

However…is deal flow dried up?

No way…

Let’s face it. We all have to adapt right now and everyone, consciously or subconsciously, is in survival mode.

Some M&A firms are slashing opex, hiding in their cave till it’s “safe to come out” (when is that anyways?), ignoring all deal flow and revenue-driving activities…

Then there are others who’ve pulled out their elephant rifles, seeing a 2-3X lift in deal flow.

Sell-side, buy-side, IPOs, cap raises…the whole 9 yards.

With that in mind, there are 3 kinds of dealmakers right now…

  1. Those retreating and pulling back
  2. Those “waiting & seeing”
  3. Those expanding and hunting

Unfortunately, the first two actions have a strong chance of either wiping you out, or risk leaving you so far behind that catching up will put you to a slow death.

The latter will slingshot you into the “blue ocean” of opportunity that is sitting in front of us.

Where do you sit?

Regardless, the real question is: How does your firm take advantage, and get in front of this?

I got a call yesterday from Partner at a prominent Wall Street Investment Bank who said:

“Matt…this great, I’m hiring all the great business development professionals, analysts, and deal-making talent that my competition kicked to the curb…the best part, I’m hiring them for .10, .20, .50 on the dollar!”

I asked: “How are you finding them?”

His Answer: By LOOKING for them.

He’s reaching out. Starting conversations. Cold.

So…what does this have to do with deal flow?

BY BEING PROACTIVE

Yes, we need to be re-active during this time as well. It’s critical.

We need to pull back expenses, have tough conversations with employees, vendors, and family members.

What I’m ALSO saying is; don’t get caught up in the storm of reactivity and lose sight of what’s critical.

CLOSING NEW BUSINESS.

There’s a reason why expenses are measured as a percentage against revenue in a financial analysis.

And you can’t get there by focusing on slashing costs and “waiting” your way to the next deal.

So what can you do NOW to generate deal flow?

3 Strategies to Fill Your Deal Pipeline:

  1. Existing Relationships

Intermediaries, COI’s, and referral sources are one of the first and most fruitful places to generate more deal flow.

These connections already have built-in trust, respect, and understand your firm and how you do business. They can either directly do business with you or send new deals your way.

Reaching out to “rekindle” a conversation and discuss current market conditions, valuations, and deal flow should be an easy point-of-entry conversation to get the ball rolling.

It doesn’t matter if you just spoke to them last week.

Obscurity will be your biggest enemy at this time…you need to be top of mind.

So get the ol’ rolodex out.

  1. Past Deals

This can be tough, but revisiting past deals or prospects that didn’t go through can be an opportunity to re-open the deal-making conversation.

I’ve seen shops completely scale from a cold start this way by simply reaching out to deals that didn’t close in the past.

WARNING: Do not be “needy”.

Bring “bait” or “leverage” to the table to re-open the conversation…AKA: VALUE.

Such as insight to their industry, an important piece of information relevant to their initiatives, or a contact you can introduce them to.

Make sure you have a reason to “come back around”…but don’t overthink it. Just do it (as Nike would say).

  1. Hunt

The problem with 99% of deal origination sources is that most of time they are:

  1. A) Non-exclusive deals
  2. B) An “unpredictable” and “uncontrollable” volume of opportunities
  3. C) Un-qualified or off-target

So, rather than “hoping” the right opportunity comes along, create it.

There is a saying a wise man once told me which was:

“He who can make it rain, controls the game”

If you can make rain leads, opportunities, and deals, then you can put yourself in the driver seat and be the cause rather than the effect.

Why not take control of your deal flow thats:

  1. Predictable
  2. Controllable
  3. Qualified and targeted
  4. Exclusive and Proprietary

How?

Direct Outreach.

Let me break down a few actionable methods and strategies that you can add to your deal hunting quiver and takedown that next big opportunity.

Direct Outreach Method 1: LinkedIn

The good news is, LinkedIn is the single largest social media platform for business professionals…and even better, it’s an ocean-of-a-database.

Here’s how to put a turbocharger on your LinedIn and turn it into a deal sourcing playground:

Step 1: Develop Targets

A $70-$80/month investment will get you access to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool which is exactly what it sounds like:

To Navigate Sales Opportunities

You can put together and save large swaths of highly targeted prospect lists with your “ideal targeting parameters” such as company size, location, sector, etc., and save those lists.

Step 2: Make Contact

From there, it’s time to make contact.

Because LinkedIn provides such great detail on your connections, do some research on them. Look at recent news, new hires, acquisitions or mergers, review specific content or articles your prospect has posted.

This authentically gets you to know who you are making contact with and enables you to stand out.

Step 3: Run Good Process

Execute this on a daily basis, or have a team member, and watch your contacts and deal pipeline fill with opportunities.

A LinkedIn correspondence turns into a phone call.

A phone call into an LOI.

An LOI into a done deal.

Direct Outreach Method 2: Direct Email

Email is my personal favorite for several reasons:

  1. A) Reachability: Everyone has an Inbox and I KNOW I can reach them
  2. B) Relevancy: 99.8% of people suck at cold emails, so standing out isn’t rocket science
  3. C) Scalability: You can send 100’s a day and have your calendar packed with appointments

Here’s how to run good process with a direct email approach:

Step 1: Develop a database

How?

By BUILDING or BUYING it.

You can scrap contact’s information online using a variety of tools (like hunter.io) or you can BUY a database from a 3rd party like Pitchbook.com, or hire a team (like us) to do this for you.

This way, you have more control of your data, you can see EXACTLY who you are going to reach out to, and you can filter custom parameters.

Step 2: Make Contact

Crafting an email needs several elements to stand out:

  1. Relevance (Why me?)
  2. A Social Connection (How do you know me or connect with me?)
  3. High stakes (Why should I care?)
  4. Insightful (What’s this about?)
  5. Clear (Understandable)
  6. Actionable (Always end the email with a question mark)

Ideally, you want to package those 6 items above into a 100-130 word email that grabs your contacts’ attention.

Step 3: Run Good Process

Just like LinkedIn, outflow emails every day, consistently, and your deal flow pipeline will never run dry.

Take control of your own economy during these trying times while competitors are retreating.

Now, more than ever is a window of opportunity to get front door access to your “dream deal” and fill your pipeline with opportunities.

Go get em’!

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