As a venture capital investor, you are in the business of building long-term relationships. Whether you focus on small seed-stage deals or large growth equity investments, who you know and how well you know them matters.
The stronger your relationships with entrepreneurs, startups, LPs, other investors, accelerators, etc., the more you can improve your firm’s deal flow while providing the most value to your portfolio companies.
Selecting the right customer relationship management software (CRM) is crucial for your firm to remain competitive. The right system should increase your team’s productivity by minimizing manual data entry and accelerating the deal-making process, allowing you and your team to focus on cultivating meaningful relationships and closing deals.
Unfortunately, most VC firms still rely on bloated and outdated Excel spreadsheets or clunky sales-focused CRM systems.
These sales or traditional CRMs have not been designed to build long-term relationships or generate referrals; instead, they are transactional tools that help sales professionals streamline the sales process by moving prospects down a linear sales funnel.
Most of these CRMs are highly effective tools but are not a fit for deal-driven teams. Sales outreach and linear transactional relationships are very different from the long-term collaborative relationships you are trying to build and foster as a venture capitalist. Investing in a high-tech venture is not like closing a sale; it requires a deeper personal connection and chemistry with the founders and the team. You should not treat long-term relationships as a sales funnel to execute.
To stay ahead of the competition, you need a system built for your unique workflows and processes that gives you complete visibility across your firm’s deal pipeline and your ever-evolving relationship networks, a concept we call Relationship intelligence.
What is a Venture Capital CRM, and How is it Different from Other CRMs?
According to Salesforce, the pioneers of modern-day SaaS CRM software, a Customer Relationship Management platform is “a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, agent productivity, and profitability. Yet, as an investor, you do not have customers in the traditional sense, nor are you managing support agents or a transactional sales process. So why would you pay for a bloated CRM system loaded with unnecessary features your team will never use?
It is no secret that most CRM implementations fail because of a misalignment between the platform’s functionality and the firm’s needs. You need a platform that works with your existing processes without adding extra layers of complexity.
The first step of implementing a CRM system is selecting the platform that solves the specific pain points unique to your firm and industry. Well-known generic CRMs such as Salesforce, Hubspot, and project management tools will only result in a costly and lengthy implementation while failing to bring any material value to your team. You need a system to improve deal sourcing, pipeline, and portfolio management efficiencies.
Enter the venture capital CRM; this software category is more than just your standard Excel spreadsheet or contact management database. Venture capital CRMs have been designed from the ground up to address VC use cases, allowing firms to integrate them into their existing processes seamlessly.
Let’s explore the unique features and benefits of a venture capital CRM system.
Unique Features of a Venture Capital CRM
Automating Manual Data Entry: A typical venture capital deal consists of hundreds or thousands of email, phone, virtual and in-person interactions, and VCs should not be spending hours creating and updating contact or deal records in the CRM.
Pipeline Management and Visibility: VC firms are concurrently working on various sophisticated deals with multiple stakeholders. This is very different from a transactional deal, where the main focus is to close a sale.
Leveraging the Full Power of the Firm’s Relationship Networks: Relationships are the magic ingredient that drives success in venture capital, so leveraging them to the fullest is key to uncovering new opportunities by identifying the best path to a company, investor, or expert.
Implementation and Adoption: VC investors are busy and do not have the time to go through months-long implementations and arduous training programs. Team members should be able to replace Excel and other generic CRMs without disrupting their workflow by getting up and running in days, not months.
Unique Reporting Capabilities: Reporting on a sales pipeline and customer support calls differs from reporting on deal sourcing or LP fundraising. Investors need access to powerful dashboards and metrics that help them track activities and uncover new opportunities.
Benefits of a Venture Capital CRM
Many CRM providers can help teams automate tasks and conduct business development and other operations. These options range from the powerful Salesforce CRM to more niche players like Pipedrive CRM.
However, the common denominator is: that they are not designed for venture capital or private equity firms. If you are serious about growing your firm, you need to invest in the right technology, starting with a venture capital CRM.
Based on our experience working with hundreds of venture capital firms, these are the benefits our clients experience from using a VC CRM like 4Degrees.
Save Hundreds of Hours Per Year
A CRM is only as powerful as the data entered. Therefore keeping a high level of data integrity is crucial, but relying on manual entry is antiquated, expensive, and risky.
Traditionally, most systems require users to log calls, emails, and other interactions manually. However, we all know not all interactions get entered into the system, leading to embarrassing mistakes like reaching out to prospects that have already been contacted by a colleague, wasting your team’s time, and even eroding your firm’s reputation.
The more a traditional CRM relies on manual data entry, the less likely it will remain updated and accurate. And once most of the data becomes outdated, teams will stop using the system, resulting in a negative ROI.
A survey conducted by Zapier shows how data entry is killing productivity. 76% of respondents spend 1-3 hours per day moving data from one place to another. Your team of professionals should focus on high-value activities and building relationships, not logging data into a bloated spreadsheet or CRM.
VC CRM platforms automatically capture all communications by syncing with your Microsoft Outlook or Gmail inboxes, creating and updating contact and deal records. Additionally, records are enriched with high-quality industry data from Pitchbook, CrunchBase, and other data sources. This process ensures your data remains current and accurate, empowering your team to focus on building deeper relationships and driving deals.
Having all data and interactions under one roof enables team members to work together directly from the CRM without the risk of having data spread across multiple spreadsheets and documents that don’t talk to each other.
Seamlessly integrating your CRM with your current workflow and other elements of your firm’s technology stack can save your team hundreds of hours. Some of these integrations include:
- Adding contacts and deals directly from your inbox or any webpage in real-time without opening the CRM.
- Getting a warm introduction to a prospect directly from their LinkedIn profile.
- Automatically sync files, attachments, and due diligence documents from your cloud storage system.
Easily Keep Track of All Deals With Deal Flow Management
By having a CRM designed by former VC investors who understand the industry’s unique workflows, your team can review thousands of potential deals every year while ensuring nothing gets overlooked.
Most VC deals have multiple moving parts and involve months of research, touchpoints, and follow-ups. Some pieces can fall through the cracks without the right processes and tools, resulting in lost opportunities.
With a CRM, your team can instantly see the deals they are currently working on and where they stand. To gain a deeper understanding of a particular deal, you can drill down to see all the specific communication and action items related to each engagement. All without having to leave the platform, let alone juggle between dozens of programs and browser tabs.
Since no two firms are the same, VCs can customize their deal pipeline views in the CRM to show relevant data points they need without opening the individual deal record. Compared to digging through multiple email conversations and spreadsheets, having a macro view of the deal pipeline allows investors to be more efficient and make better investment decisions.
By having all your deals under one list or Kanban-style view, you can easily filter out those deals that don’t fit your firm’s investment thesis and ensure you only spend time on the right kind of engagements.
Leverage The Power of Your Relationship Networks
Relationships are the difference between winning a deal and hearing about it afterward.
VC CRMs give you immediate visibility into your firm’s network to uncover new opportunities, get warm introductions, and win competitive deals.
These systems empower your team with thousands of contacts, interactions, and data points by activating your collective relationships to source deals, evaluate them or identify connections that can meaningfully change the trajectory of your portfolio companies.
For example, suppose you are looking for a niche AI /ML expert when conducting diligence on a potential investment. In that case, you can easily see who on your team is connected to an AI/ML expert and who knows them best with the help of the strength scoring algorithm. This way, you can request a warm introduction and forgo the cold email, expediting the process and boosting efficiency.
In venture capital, relationships are not transactional; they must be nurtured, fostered, and developed. Having immediate visibility into your organization’s network from a central hub that provides information on their most recent updates, mentions, social media activity, and articles will help you build and grow those quality relationships. All without having to sort through your LinkedIn, email inbox, outdated spreadsheets, and other cumbersome systems.
Insights and Analytics to Make You More Efficient
When your tech stack consists of spreadsheets, calendars, and other disparate tools, you spend valuable time building reports with out-of-date data.
If your firm still relies on data from multiple systems, it lacks the insight and visibility to effectively identify patterns and accelerate your investing processes.
You can optimize your investment activity and close more deals by accessing the data you need via customizable, easy-to-digest reports that provide the metrics that most matter to you.
A VC CRM with reporting capabilities will empower you with real-time data by automatically creating a report for your Monday morning meetings, answering questions such as:
- Where are your best investment opportunities coming from?
- Why are we adding fewer deals to the pipeline this quarter than last?
- Why are some deals moving forward while others are stalled in the process?
Adopting a data-driven approach to your pipeline performance can help you identify patterns like where your best investments are coming from, allowing you to pursue more opportunities and generate better returns for your LPs.
The Right Tool For The Job
In an industry where relationships are the core pillars and your most valuable assets, you need a tool backed by a team that understands your needs. Trying to adapt to a CRM system designed for linear transactional sales processes does not make sense for your firm.
If you are interested in leveraging your firm’s most valuable asset by fully cultivating and harnessing the power of your team’s business network, you should request a personalized demo of 4Degrees; the only Relationship Intelligence CRM built for VCs by VCs.
During the demo, we will review your firm’s specific use cases and show you how 4Degrees can empower you to close more deals faster.