How to Increase Your Proprietary Deal Flow for M&A

— 5 min read
Nov 4, 2020

It's no secret that mergers and acquisitions continue to have a promising future, but where does your company fit into that picture?

According to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA), M&A was valued at approximately $3.7 trillion in 2019, across nearly 50,000 deals.

While many deals are traditionally sourced through intermediaries and advisors, proprietary deals present a unique opportunity to firms across the globe.

Proprietary deals do require more legwork up front — but they also allow you to find opportunities with lesser-known companies, conduct one-on-one negotiations with the seller, and speed up the process of information gathering.

In other words, your company is in the drivers' seat to exponentially increase deal flows. Here are some places to start:

1. Set up a website

Any modern company needs a high-quality website so potential prospects can research you and your company. List your mission, team bios, a portfolio (or prior transactions if you don't have a portfolio yet), contact information, and relevant social media handles.

Even if your team is small and agile, you can easily set up a website without learning to code through platforms like Squarespace and Wix. These platforms are also automatically mobile-friendly, so people can check out your company on the go.

2. Use LinkedIn

A 2020 study conducted by HootSuite found that 4 out of 5 people on LinkedIn use the platform to drive business decisions, and 89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for lead generation.

Having a digital presence on LinkedIn signals to prospects that your company is established and legitimate. It also helps give them an idea of how you work and play with others. Publishing thought pieces on LinkedIn, commenting on posts from people in your industry, and engaging with others is a great way to boost your presence and show you're trustworthy.

3. Pin down a company data source

According to a 2020 study conducted by Accenture, 80% of executives agree that M&A activities require third-party providers for new technology adoption.

Googling only goes so far when you're looking to build out a deal flow. Look into databases or company search engines to keep track of which sources provide the most lucrative and effective leads for you. It may also be worth tracking how much time it takes for you to find those leads, since some methods are way more time-consuming than others.

4. Get a data source for contact information

Keeping track of all your prospective deals can quickly get messy. Contact databases don't always have what investors need to know about companies, which is why it's helpful to build out your own. Using LinkedIn browser plug-ins is one way to get started.

5. Get a CRM system

CRM, or customer relationship management, makes it easier for you to manage interactions with prospective customers. This will keep you from repeating the same interactions or losing vital information. They also help you collect data on which type of prospects are the best to close.

Some of the most popular options include:

  • Salesforce – The industry standard for most modern companies
  • DealCloud – A deal sourcing and fund management platform for capital markets
  • Affinity – Another popular option for people who work in venture capital, private equity, and investment banking
  • HubSpot – A multi-use tool that best fits a marketing-driven strategy

6. Use an outbound sales automation platform

Automating outbound sales messages spare you a good amount of manual labor, then allow you to focus on tailored discussions once a prospect responds. It's important to develop a strong messaging cadence that hits on your company's most valuable points, and delivers emails spaced out over time so you don't overwhelm prospects.

Some of the most popular outbound platforms are:

  • Outreach – Offers sales sequences, multichannel communication, and personalization at scale
  • SalesLoft – Helps B2B sellers integrate with top CRMs, including features of cadence, automation, and analytics
  • Reply – Automates email search, LinkedIn outreach, personal emails, and calls
  • ActiveCampaign – Email marketing and automation tools for e-commerce, digital businesses, and B2B companies
  • HubSpot – As mentioned above, this tool has a sales automation platform automatically built-in

7. Hire interns for help

Building a pipeline of deal flows is important work, but also very time-consuming if you're not using a specialized search engine or tech stack. College students and other recent graduates are a great option if you need to focus your energy on higher-level work. Just make sure to avoid free internships to keep your employment practices aboveboard.

8. Get involved in the community

Similar to joining trade organizations, making yourself an active presence in the community is one of the best ways to establish your company. Attend events, post thoughtful answers on forums, and slowly build up your reputation as a respectable leader who is here to help.


Setting up new software and a fresh deal pipeline might feel like a lot of work upfront, but once you have everything in place, deal flows will come more naturally than ever.

Grata can help

Grata is a modern company search engine for proprietary deal sourcing and targeted B2B campaigns. Grata’s search engine enables you to find private companies by strategic fit: what they do, how they’re positioned, and the markets they target.

Break free from legacy databases and Google search and leverage NLP-driven search to find companies that are right for you. You can learn more about Grata by speaking with a member of our team. Get started here.

Try Grata today

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