Successful VCs depend on having a deep understanding of customer relationships. But too often, VC firms house important pipeline data in siloed tools like emails and spreadsheets that don't cooperate efficiently with other tools and make data inaccessible.
Making business operations easy removes barriers and builds a foundation for relationship management and a successful portfolio. CRM platforms are a core part of easing operations, and the more your team uses their CRM the more value the platform brings back.
Bain Capital Ventures is a multi-stage fund heavily weighted towards B2B and enterprise technology. As a client of Affinity since 2018, they have refined their platform use over time through a crawl, walk, run approach. Kevin Zhang, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures, breaks down their process into three separate phases.
3 steps your firm can take to make their CRM a competitive differentiator
1. Unify your data in a single place
Your first mission with a new CRM is easy—get all of your data into it as fast as possible. You want to make it easier for anyone on the team to access important information quickly.
"The majority of the value comes from getting as much information as possible entered, and the records created so that you can see that you spoke to someone and what your action was without incremental work," Zhang said. Being able to sort a CRM by the last contact simplifies the process of making a list of people to follow up with regularly.
An efficient CRM integrates directly with a firm's workflow tools, like phone and email, to capture and sync data automatically. "One compelling feature of Affinity is the data science intelligence element, where record creation is synced automatically rather than manually," Zhang explained.
Syncing saves time by eliminating the need to enter the same information into different programs. As a result, there's less room for human error, and you can be more confident in your data being accurate and up-to-date.
Deal data is often fragmented among partners and stored in different silos. Deploying Affinity was the first step for Bain Capital Ventures to solve this problem and keep everyone on track.
2. Move from a team of investors to an investment team
Investors and check-writers aren’t the only members of a firm that drive deals forward. With full data science, talent teams, operations teams, and third-party consultants, it’s important to keep visibility into the full deal process across multiple workgroups. This shift means that the technology and infrastructure VCs trust have to fit that mold.
"We have sub-teams that focus on distinct subjects and industries," Zhang said. "We created templates of processes and weekly reviews. Since we all follow the same workflows, more teams have adopted their CRM as their source of truth. That alone has put Affinity in the center of our week-to-week operational processes."
An effective CRM platform allows valuable information to be shared as easily as it’s stored. Firms that can keep lines of communication across their teams open can more easily collaborate to support their professional relationships.
3. Turn professional relationships into mutual growth opportunities
Bain Capital Ventures' focus on their VC tech stack has done more than improve their inbound deal pipeline by focusing on new growth signals. They’ve also been able to focus on—and improve—sourcing by positioning themselves as LPs to develop a kind of scouting program.
“We saw that seed investments are often struck before a founder leaves their previous job. We’re no longer selling at a point in time. A loose, long-term relationship with someone is what leads to an investment. It’s a relationship to manage, not an opportunity to be sold.”
By offering to build a collaborative professional relationship with potential founders before an idea ever becomes a company, your firm can ensure it's the first at the door when it opens. Even if the investment opportunity doesn’t ever come, your team can continue to expand its collective professional network and create more chances for speaking to the right people at the right time.
What leading VCs firms should expect from their technology
Typical, numerical data sets that any firm can pull from Pitchbook or Crunchbase are, in and of themselves, not unique offerings. Your firm’s differentiator is the information you gain from your collective professional network. Leveraging your CRM to move from simple data management to relationship management is possible with relationship intelligence.
Knowing who knows whom and how well they know them means you can seamlessly explore your relationship history in context. Combining your relationship data, deal data, and public data from your third-party data partners, you have the ability to take a birds-eye view of your complete network and dive into details all at once.
This is all just the start. The next step is turning data into decisions. Learn more about how tech-forward VC firms continue to build on the value in their CRM with data enrichment.