In private equity, relationships are the foundation of a team’s dealmaking. With such an integral role, it’s no surprise that the customer relationship management (CRM) software that a firm selects to track those relationships can either hinder or nurture them. Leading firms must act decisively, with agility and speed, if they want to develop and maintain a competitive edge to their deal flow. The quality of the relationships throughout your collective network, and how you’re able to leverage them, will impact your ability to win—and close—competitive private equity deals.
Private equity dealmaking, unlike transactional sales, is a nonlinear, complex, and long-term deal process. And firms understand that their CRM needs to function as more than just a contact database. Standard customer relationship management platforms are fine for short sales cycles and funnel-driven sales teams, but they don’t provide private equity firms with the intelligence that allows them to analyze all the data points across their firm’s business network. Purpose-built CRM software can set sophisticated dealmakers apart from the competition with features such as relationship intelligence, the automation of data entry and other traditionally manual processes, and data enrichment.
On average, the lifecycle of a deal can span one to two years, from prospecting to deal sourcing to closing—and this makes it even more challenging to keep up with key relationships. Managing directors don’t have time to spend hours searching for updates on key players, and it’s common for individuals to change companies or firms. Having all that information on hand as a result of automated data enrichment, coupled with relationship intelligence, ensures that your team can easily identify the warmest introductions and act quickly on these insights. Your network of business relationships can become an ecosystem that drives success, instead of a tangled web of missed opportunities and crossed wires.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll take a look at eight of the top private equity CRMs. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of important features that your ideal CRM platform should have and how to leverage those features for your firm’s business development.
Private Equity Customer Relationship Management Platforms
DealCloud CRM is a software as a service (SaaS) built specifically for capital market dealmakers like private equity, real estate, and venture capital—and its highly customizable solution provides a platform for single-source deals, relationship management, and firm management. Private equity firms and their limited partners have used DealCloud for the past ten years to streamline their deal pipeline, from origination to execution.
If you’re interested in DealCloud but aren’t quite ready to make a decision, check out these DealCloud alternatives.
Like most other traditional CRMs, DealCloud relies on users to keep up with manual data entry to keep deal activity current and up-to-date. And similar to Salesforce, DealCloud’s customization can result in up to six months for onboarding and deployment. If your team needs a quicker deployment and wants a more robust feature set and a more user-friendly interface, another CRM might be a better option.
Navatar is a traditional CRM built on top of Salesforce, and users familiar with CRMs will find most of the basic features they would expect from CRM software solutions. Navatar Group has several offices across the world and more than 20 years of experience delivering a SaaS solution. They are best known for their streamlined deal pipeline management workflows, and their original focus on financial services ensures that organizations can easily track investor relations, asset management, and other important variables.
Unfortunately, like most other CRMs, Navatar requires manual data entry for contacts and entries to remain current. Your team could spend hundreds of hours per person every year entering countless data points.
4Degrees is a CRM built by former investors who are familiar with the crowded capital market space, including venture capital firms and PE firms. 4Degrees is a newer CRM solution and offers users lead management, contact management, relationship management, and sales pipeline management. 4Degrees uses artificial intelligence to identify insights into your private equity team’s strongest connections—which sets it apart from some of the more traditional CRMs.
However, these insights are minimal, and in order to connect 4Degrees to any other tools in your private equity tech stack, you must use third-party integration tools like Zapier. If your team relies on any Microsoft Suite products, such as Outlook, or any marketing automation, like Mailchimp, there are no native integrations. This places your data in a precarious position. If Zapier fails at any point, the link between your data and the tools on which you rely could be broken. Some 4Degrees alternatives, including other platforms on this list, provide these services natively.
Salesforce is known as the industry standard for transactional customer relationship management platforms. In contrast to 4Degrees, teams can choose from a nearly endless selection of integrations found in the Salesforce AppExchange. Integrations include all the most common tools in the PE tech stack, including Zoom, Dropbox, Slack, and Quickbooks.
Although Salesforce is one of the best-known CRMs in the world, it was not built with private equity firms in mind; as an all-in-one solution, PE firms might find that Salesforce is too robust or complex. Team members can find it hard to navigate and you may face resistance getting your team to adopt it. Your digital tools should serve your business, not demand hours of attention to maintain. Instead of spending your time on training or manual data entry, your team could be focusing on what they do best—building relationships.
Dynamo software offers solutions for investment fundraising—and although it is not focused solely on private equity, it does allow teams to track pertinent information. The platform includes deal management, manager tracking and due diligence, investor relationship management, and workflow automation. Team members who want to access Dynamo from the road will need an iPhone or iPad—there is no Android app. Dynamo does integrate with several common SaaS tools, such as DocuSign, Office, and Pitchbook, but your options are limited. Data entry, like many other first-generation CRMs, is manual, and customers report challenges with transfers of interest.
Altvia is built for private equity, venture capital, and other alternative investment firms, and works on top of Salesforce. Altivia offers GPs, LPs, and portfolio managers the opportunity to collaborate within a single system. Private equity firms can access due diligence support, marketing automation, and portfolio metrics, among other features. Altvia does use some artificial intelligence, or AI, to offer insights across data sources, but does not process or analyze them in a way that highlights relationships. The CRM is capable of some custom reporting and data analytics, which may reduce manual data entry; however, users will still need to manually enter data rather than count on automation to keep contact and activity data current.
Not to be confused with the (now defunct) late-nineties affiliate marketing network of the same name, eFront is an alternative investment management software with headquarters in Paris, France. In 2019, BlackRock acquired the company, and eFront now operates alongside Aladdin Institutional and Aladdin Wealth.
The company is more than 20 years old and offers private equity firms six modular products that can support deal flow, customer relationship management, pipeline management, and other aspects of day-to-day activity. Although eFront boasts an end-to-end solution with seamless integration within their suite of products, customers who want to integrate it with third-party software may find it more challenging.
Affinity CRM allows private equity firms to focus on their highest-value activity—building and nurturing relationships—and automate everything else. You can eliminate manual data entry with automated data capture of your firm’s data exhaust—interactions from Gmail or your email provider, calendar events, and contact information.
Proprietary algorithms provide PE firms with a 360° Rolodex for relationship intelligence and actionable insights. You can streamline your dealmaking by choosing a purpose-built CRM that can quickly identify the warmest introduction on your team using relationship intelligence and insights. Find, originate, and close more private equity investments faster than your competition with this unprecedented leverage. Private equity teams can access Affinity on the go—from an Android or iPhone mobile app—or from their desktop.
Why Affinity wins as the best private equity CRM
In the pandemic landscape, capital markets—from real estate to venture capital firms, and from private equity to investment banking—have transitioned to more virtual contact than before. Instead of the commonplace activity of drinks and dinners, teams are leaning on Zoom and other virtual touchpoints more and more often. Despite this shift, your PE firm’s success still lies in its ability to build deep and lasting relationships in order to source, manage, and close your most important deals. Affinity CRM facilitates, enhances, and leverages these relationships by offering data enrichment and automation coupled with a powerful relationship intelligence platform.
When you can outsource your memory to your CRM solution, you can trust that the important relationships won’t fall through the cracks. And, since Affinity functions as a single source of truth for your team, you won’t lose deals to siloed data or a lack of current intelligence about the relationships between your team members and their contact, and about the relationships among your contacts themselves. Team members can confidently collaborate when they know they’re all operating from a single source of truth.
Managing directors can easily assess a real-time analysis of deals and KPIs without having to track down colleagues, search for emails to confirm a step was completed, or look in multiple locations for critical documents. With Affinity, all of this can happen without having to manually enter data or create reports.
Private equity firms need a CRM platform with functionality that exceeds that of an Excel spreadsheet. Affinity allows modern PE firms to lean on automation and relationship intelligence to accelerate the process of finding, managing, and closing deals.
Is your private equity team ready to focus on relationships instead of data entry? Speak with an Affinity team member today.