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Origination: making a good impression


It’s a tough climate at the moment, and competition for deals, including origination, is growing. To stay in the game, it’s essential for corporate finance professionals to leave a good impression from their very first interaction with sponsors and strategics. But what if this process is mishandled? That’s a big threat to credibility with prospects, and could ultimately lead to landing fewer deals.

I got an insight into this recently after Singletrack went through our own acquisition process with private equity software investor Accel-KKR. We received outreach messages from other corporate finance firms, and not all of these were high quality. A big proportion of the messages I saw were based on out of date or incorrect information. There were countless emails from people who didn’t know we’d recently completed our transaction, as well as teasers for irrelevant ideas.

This is despite the fact that we had widely announced the deal on our website, on social media, and in the industry press. It wasn’t a secret! So why were these firms wasting their time reaching out about a transaction that was irrelevant?

You only get one chance at a first impression

Messages like those didn’t leave a good impression, and they don’t inspire confidence. Prospects are likely to see initial outreach (and for that matter all interactions) as a reflection of your execution capabilities. If that outreach demonstrates information is out of date or incomplete, would the prospect choose you over your competitors?

Follow-up calls – once communication has been established – tended to be better-informed and more personalised in my experience, but the quality still varied widely. The firms who got in touch were hoping they could help Singletrack, but strangely enough, they revealed that Singletrack could help them. And during our conversations, many agreed there was room for improvement.

Getting it right

So, what does a good first impression look like?

For strategics

  • Email outreach from corporate finance professionals incorporates messaging relevant to the target, taking into account current funding or ownership status and transaction history
  • Messages refer to the target’s industry and other similar transactions 
  • The first call makes reference to any past conversations with the owner/investor

For sponsors, initial conversations should

  • Demonstrate knowledge of any recent transactions they’ve conducted
  • Show an understanding of their portfolio
  • Make reference to any relevant past conversations with colleagues and with any of their portfolio companies

That all sounds good, but how can corporate finance firms ensure their teams are well informed enough to have conversations like this from the start of each relationship? Wouldn’t that prove impossible to scale?

No. While it is true that trying to gather the kind of information needed for targeted outreach manually would be a big drain on resources and introduce the possibility of mistakes, tools exist to support corporate finance teams and automate many of these processes. 

Data-driven outreach

Using a data-driven platform like Singletrack which brings all your information together in one place – including interaction data, corporate data and third-party sources will ensure your people have access to up-to-date, accurate information from across your business before they press send on their first email or pick up the phone. Ambient data capture, where AI-based tools record pertinent detail from your contact with prospects and clients, takes away the burden of manually entering all this information, which saves time.

And once the system is integrated into your workflows, being constantly updated and added to, the data your people can draw on will only become richer, and the interaction histories with all your current contacts will help you see where opportunities might be, and meet them with professional, targeted points of contact. 

Ready to find out how Singletrack can help you make a good impression when it comes to origination?

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Published: 16/03/2023