A proliferation of sophisticated tools over the past 5-10 years has dramatically improved the business development capabilities of even single member corporate development teams.
We conducted more than 20 interviews with our customers working in business development and in this article, we at DealRoom, outline the tools that we believe businesses or corporate development teams need to utilize.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
Whether your company is on the buy-side or the sell-side, there are going to be lots of interactions with different intermediaries, buyers, and sellers.
A competent CRM system enables teams to stay on top of these interactions, focusing less on cold leads, and extracting value from the warm ones.
The best CRM system for the purposes of mergers and acquisitions is probably Microsoft Dynamics 365, which doubles up as an ERP system, so it will add value for your company even if you press pause on the M&A process.
Collaboration and Productivity
The realization that email isn’t working for teams above five people arrived a few years back and the market was suddenly flooded with a range of collaboration and productivity tools.
The best of these are Slack (a platform mainly focused on collaboration) and Trello (mainly focused on productivity, taking inspiration from the Kaizen method).
New members are easily added to each, so you can ramp up your company’s use on each platform fairly efficiently.
It seems like an odd one to say for a social networking platform that has over 800 million users, but we still believe LinkedIn to be underused. Or maybe the word is misused.
While millions of professionals use LinkedIn for self promotion or finding suitable candidates, it’s still not seen as the world’s best business development platform.
Any company involved in M&A transactions should make LinkedIn a central part of their operations.
The LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool provides companies with advanced company search features, as well as providing suggestions based on existing searches.
A company’s number of employees can be used as a proxy for its size, and LinkedIn also offers filters such as industry, sub-industry, and geography.
Instead of spending days looking for similar companies, LinkedIn will send you them in a list, as well as the person you should be talking to within the company.
Deal Sourcing Platforms
We like to think of deal sourcing platforms like Aurigin, DealNexus, and Axial as networking tools as much as deal sourcing platforms.
The danger with using these platforms is suffering from tunnel vision – the notion that the only good transactions you’ll close will be listed on these platforms.
That being said, they offer a great way of making contact with networking with others active in your market.
Be active, build your network, and these platforms will eventually help you to locate the transaction that works for your company.
There are so many moving parts to a well-managed M&A transaction that it’s easy to wonder how deals got over the line before deal management platforms.
Whether your company is preparing for a merger, an acquisition, a divestment, or still just feeling out the idea of an M&A transaction, we recommend DealRoom for as the most user-friendly solution on the market.
It also gives users access to an extraordinary quantity of templates that can help you through due diligence of every conceivable kind.
DealRoom calls itself an “M&A Lifecycle Management Platform” meaning that it has been designed to facilitate deals beginning at the origination phase, right through to post-merger integration.
It could also quite easily have been added to the collaboration tools (above) as it has been shown to add significant value to collaboration in deals, even allowing several deals to run concurrently on a user’s account.
Likewise, every user gains an overview of where the deal is in its process, and what tasks they have to complete to move forward.
If you’re not accumulating data as you run your transaction process, the chances are you’re not doing it right.
The more data you have, the more you maximize your company’s opportunities to make informed decisions.
FirmRoom has been designed to enable companies involved in transactions to leverage their data for value generation.
It enables easy document storage, manipulation, and exchange. For companies with large data storage requirements, its prices are competitive with every other platform of its kind on the market.
Communication and Conferencing
The Covid-19 pandemic was a boon for communication and conferencing tools out there. People already forgot how does it feel when you sit in a conference room with your group members in a comfortable chairs and modern conference table and discuss business critical things.
Many companies moved out of the office onto platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and MS Teams. Whichever you choose will depend not just on your own preferences, but on those of your client.
Just remember to be flexible, use the available auxiliary tools on each (e.g. add an office screen background so that you can take a call anywhere), and to export notes from each call from the platform before closing the call.
For business intelligence, the two undisputed leaders in the arena are Tableau, Microsoft Power BI and Looker.
Our recommendation is that these tools really come into their own after transactions have been closed and your post merger integration (PMI) phase is ramping up.
With so many tasks to fulfill, this is a phase of M&A transactions where leaders tend to take shortcuts. Good BI software will at least ensure you’ve got an overview of where you are on each task. Here is an example of BI Reporting in DealRoom.
There is simply no excuse to not leverage the outstanding business development tools currently at your disposal.
The reality is that your company’s competitors will be using many of these tools to improve their business development activities, even if you decide not to.
Find the balance that works for you – your company’s pain points (e.g., inefficient collaboration, unsafe data storage, etc.) will direct you to the technology stack that delivers most value for your company’s transaction process.