Change Your Deal Origination Strategy

It can be difficult to adapt when traditional methods seem in a constant state of flux. Waiting for the dust to settle before shifting resources is a recipe for failure. Effective methods for sourcing the best business opportunities with top talent have shifted over the last decade–and they will continue to do so. Deal originators should be aware of the shifting tide or competitors will arrive first.

Sourcing opportunities in the financial world is often the bottleneck of revenue. It’s one of the more time-consuming, but necessary tasks used for keeping a full pipeline. Even the most well-connected rainmaker still needs to keep a warm network so as to remain top-of-mind when the next big opportunity crops.

The Changing Landscape of Deal Origination

Marketing has undergone drastic changes in the last decade and the metamorphosis is still marching on. Much of the change has greatly benefited the green horn startups that often lack the financing necessary to really move the needle. Shoestring budgets are now en vogue.

Performing deal origination in the 21st century will be very different than it was ten years ago, regardless of whether you’re funding startups or sourcing elephant M&A deals.

Before you go decimating your outside sales team in favor for some social media alternative, might I suggest true “origination” is still sourced from direct contacts and partnerships. While each opportunity requires a personal touch, the original opportunity source–at least in the 21st century–is likely to arise from a much more varied group of activities. In short, true deal origination in today’s day requires a much broader net given the bifurcated nature of today’s networking world– a feat that is more difficult to manage, but ultimately doable given the tools available.

The Death of “Smile and Dial”

No, no, no “smile and dial” deal origination is not dead. One of our partner affiliates operates a call center with a half a dozen agents. They’re not in the United States. They’re in the Philippines. Their English is fantastic and their understanding of the nomenclature and nuances of the industry are superb. They’re also well educated. And, as one might imagine, they’re significantly cheaper than their U.S.-based counterparts.

There will always be a place for good, quality push marketing and networking, but fortunately today’s tools for reaching your next viable business partner or growth opportunity are much more scalable and immediately accessible.

I like some of the non-intrusive methods for keeping on top of some of the closest contacts within your network. SlyBroadcast is one such tool that allows for pre-recorded voice messages left on the phone numbers of your choosing. Make sure those your’e sending know you, otherwise the FCC may come calling. It’s only non-intrusive if the individual wouldn’t be surprised to receive a follow-up message from you.

In short, nothing takes the place of a direct discussion, especially if it’s face-to-face. In the end, business is personal.

Scaling Deal Origination 

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of deal origination is attempting to increase quality and quantity at the same time. It’s not possible. While Mr. Buffet keeps the riff-raff out of most of his stock by never undergoing stock splits, the rest of us must continue to kiss frogs. It’s not necessarily a quantity over quality mindset, but at some point the best deals don’t come around until you’ve reached scale. Scale in deal origination usually means scale in your contacts and a highly-effective CRM system, including detailed information about each of your contacts.

Our team uses X2Engine. Like SalesForce, it’s feature-rich. Unlike SalesForce, it’s free and open and with Amazon’s free 5GB, we’ve still not even come close to maxing-out the capacity (that after we’ve grown our business contact list to over 1,000,000).

Your deal-sourcing will only be as good as your data. Constant massaging and pinging old contacts helps you to keep track of folks as they may move and change career paths.

Getting to complete scale with your deal-flow ultimately requires casting a very broad net. It’s a holistic approach, combining all aspects of marketing–both the old and the new. Today’s net is just much more diverse and dynamic than that of yesteryear.


I don’t like to waste your time as I know it’s valuable.Was this post worth your time? If not valuable to you, do you have suggestions on how we can improve what you’re seeing here? If so, please provide some feedback in the comments below.

Nate Nead on LinkedinNate Nead on Twitter
Nate Nead
Nate Nead is a licensed investment banker and Principal at Deal Capital Partners, LLC which includes InvestmentBank.com and Crowdfund.co. Nate works works with middle-market corporate clients looking to acquire, sell, divest or raise growth capital from qualified buyers and institutional investors. He is the chief evangelist of the company's growing digital investment banking platform. Reliance Worldwide Investments, LLC a member of FINRA and SIPC and registered with the SEC and MSRB. Nate resides in Seattle, Washington.
  • David Duroure
    Posted at 04:38h, 19 February Reply

    Nate, it’s hard to argue the points made in your post. I will only say that one thing that never seems to change in sales growth and deal originations is that it takes the tried and true “numbers of people numbers of times”!

    • Nate Nead
      Posted at 05:23h, 19 February Reply

      Hi David. Well put. It’s quantity contacts in a quality way, repeated to the same (and new) contacts over and over.

  • Peter Edward Welch
    Posted at 10:00h, 19 February Reply

    Hi Nate, perhaps it’s my age but despite the gargantuan
    growth of social media such as Facebook and my preferred LinkedIn, there will
    always be the need for direct human contact and interaction. So often we forget
    that organizations are not just products and services they’re people foremost working
    together combining a myriad of skills and experiences towards a common goal.
    Human resources should always view hiring as ensuring that goal-congruence
    between that of the candidate and the organization should be the primary factor
    in the decision process. I suspect however that this is far less the norm.
    Finally, how many folks view emails as the ‘only’ communication vehicle.
    Personally, though I also extensively use emails I also and often reach that
    turning-point where picking-up the phone is the next step and not ‘another email’!
    How many senior level folks view emails as a required but loathsome task given
    all the number of pressing priorities demanding time but more importantly a
    face-to-face discussion.

    • Nate Nead
      Posted at 16:11h, 19 February Reply

      Couldn’t agree more Peter. The most successful relationships are those that last long-term. That’s typically much more than a few emails or even a few phone calls. Not only is there no such thing as “one and done,” the way we approach relationships should not change, even if the mediums do.

      I also prefer a phone call to online chat, email and other channels, especially when clarity and complexity is required– which is quite often.

  • Jake Durrant
    Posted at 18:17h, 19 February Reply

    Great article Nate, I appreciate the collective thought dialed into this article. In regards to the personal interactions with people, reminds me of an important principle taught by Stephen Covey so beautifully, that relationships ought to be “transformational” not “transactional.” ‘You do this for me, and I’ll do this for you.’ Sometimes we get that confused, and it can be tempting to fall into that on occasion. Rather we should seek to learn about each other, listen, discover needs, and as a result we are both transformed in the process. True fulfilling contribution-deal origination-can only occur in transformational relationships.

    • Nate Nead
      Posted at 19:10h, 20 February Reply

      That’s perfect. Stephen Covey’s sage wisdom will always be cogent and evergreen. Quid pro quos is how it’s done.

  • David Aust
    Posted at 17:15h, 20 February Reply

    I appreciate your article Nate. Your article spoke about the tools we have for building relationships (CRM, email, telephone, networks, etc). Maslow (1943) in his two-dimensional theory of human motivation spoke of the drive based on physical and emotional support systems. During human trials and challenges, we all seek out support systems such as those you have mentioned in your article as a response. As automation for business capital continues to evolve, the primary need is the capacity to build additional dimensional support systems for investor audiences that will resolve concerns and build wealth with the least amount of risk as possible. Only then, can sustainable value be driven.

    • Nate Nead
      Posted at 19:39h, 20 February Reply

      Thank you for your comment David. Automating support systems will be necessary, but I wonder how far we can go before even the best automation begins to feel too “transactional” as Jake mentioned below. I like to look at risk in the relationship realm as non-systematic or risk that can be avoided, not by typical diversification, but ensuring those with whom you work have the characteristics that ensure you “do no harm” in a transaction. Characteristics like intelligence and integrity are paramount to this, in my mind.

      • David Aust
        Posted at 21:08h, 20 February Reply

        I appreciate your concerns about the automated feel of “too transactional.” May I suggest that there is a considerable amount of literature on the subject of mentoring or e-mentoring used to bridge the gaps of weakness with strengths. Depending on the leadership perspectives of the mentor (visionary, servant, situational, transformational, transactional, etc.) can an automation tool be created that can respond to such support systems. I would even recommend the application of a curriculum-directed e-mentored support system so that the gaps of weaknesses can be overcome through the transformational leadership style as a core value.

  • George
    Posted at 03:45h, 15 July Reply

    Great post. Very informative. Love the CRM too. 🙂

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