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May 14, 2020
The 3 pitfalls you want to avoid as an M&A advisor
People unfamiliar with the industry usually think that M&A advisors are "finance" people. Hahaha. No, that is not what we do. The financial part of M&A is easy – and it is usually covered by junior employees, almost never by partners. An average high school graduate with decent Excel skills and some training could be fit for the job. And by the way, the "investment banking" term to describe M&A advisory is utterly deceptive. M&A advisors do not lend money to anyone, neither do they invest.

The job of an M&A partner has more to do with words than numbers. We spend a lot of time discussing and meeting with business owners and CEOs. The more people you meet, the better you understand them, the smarter you become about key drivers and challenges of their companies and industries, and the more opportunities you create.

That is the most interesting part of M&A. It is called "deal origination" and in this article we will talk about 3 main pitfalls we should avoid to make more and better deals.

P.S. If you want to originate more deals, check out Beasy CRM for M&A.

Successful M&A partners are obviously talented originators, who combine a set of at least three skills:
a) They are good at interpersonal relationships. They know when to listen and when to convince
b) They have a big-picture strategic vision. They get it and will help a business leader focus on what matters
c) They have a quick and connection-oriented mind. They will come up with ideas based on their experience across various segments, and their brain is automatically generating possible "matches" with other people or companies.

There is just one problem: time. M&A partners are too busy "interacting" and "connecting". In most cases, there is no time left for other tasks – maybe not as exciting, yet essential. This is a problem that I experienced every single day of my 10+ years of activity as an advisor in middle-market M&A, before I co-founded and started using Beasy app (http://beasyapp.com/). That did not prevent from successfully developing my own M&A boutique, but I would have done a better job if I had used Beasy app earlier. In particular, I would have avoided these 3 pitfalls:

#1. Relying too much on my memory

As a partner, I was always on the go, and in just one packed day I could get a lot of info from various meetings or calls. After a good meeting, things always seemed crystal clear to me, and I was candid enough to believe that all these insights would stick in my mind. They DON'T. If you don't write them down or share them with your team that same day – preferably right after the meeting – it is likely you will lose 50% of the info.

You may say: why not saving the info in your CRM when you were back to the office? That's what I did… 20% of the time. More often than not, by the time I was back to office, I would either forget, or focus on more urgent tasks.

I needed a tool that allowed me to input key info immediately after a meeting, from my mobile, in less than a minute, while sitting in a taxi. As smoothly as a Whatsapp message.

There is an issue with Whatsapp though: the key info should not disappear under the flow of new incoming messages. Quite the opposite: it should always stay visible in a single platform, ready to be used and enriched by the whole team.

#2. Leaving sometimes my team in the dark

This is a classic case for many M&A partners. I tended to not dedicate enough time to my team. After an important meeting, I would sometimes share information only partially. My team would know enough to complete their tasks, but they would not have the full picture. I knew perfectly how frustrating and demotivating that was for them. But as much as I wanted to avoid it, I often wouldn't find the time!

I needed a tool that allowed me to delegate better. To say what I needed to say right away and have the team dig into the details. This way, I would have saved time by delegating better, and they would have got the purpose right away.

By the way, this is not a one-way interaction, partner to team. My team, my co-partners even more so, would have their say on each opportunity, would bring their own experience and ideas, etc. I found out that the only way to discuss efficiently is to collaborate in mission-specific chats. For each mission, each target, I want to keep track of everyone's contribution in a dedicated channel, so that nobody never loses sight of where we are going.

#3. Not capitalizing enough on my network

Let's be clear: a partner's capital is equal to the opportunities he or she is able to generate. The problem I had was that I could "originate" much more opportunities I could actually execute. Again, a problem of time. And because I didn't have a helicopter view on my universe of opportunities, I would tend to favor the most recent ones – not always the most lucrative ones.

Now if you have a tool that allows you to update, search, filter, customize and match companies of your network easily, it is a game-changer. Then you can take a step back, make better decisions, and dedicate your time to what is really worth it.

That alone would have worked wonders for me. But the ultimate weapon is to combine my network of leads with my partners' networks. If everyone can follow in real time the opportunities we may grab as a team, and everyone can give his or her contribution on each opportunity to maximize our chances, you got a killer. And this is what Beasy app does.

As a conclusion, I would say that M&A advisory is a great activity, and the beauty of it is that you can make real money including with a small team. You don't need 20 partners, but you need to choose your tools carefully! Try Beasy app. You might be surprised that your team of 3 or 4 might be more productive than 20.

Armen Verdian,
M&A advisor and entrepreneur
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