Free Deal Flow CRM Template for VCs to Track Investments

In a year, a mid-sized VC might source and screen anywhere from 200 to 1,000 potential deals. That is a lot of information to manage, and the volume has only increased as we’ve started to see more investment and companies entering the market. As firms become larger and more complex, they need to adopt more sophisticated deal flow technology. As a result, we’re expecting to see customer relationship management (CRM) software revenues reach +$80 billion by 2025.  

We’ve witnessed VCs turning to CRM technology because they realize this one truth about the industry: Poor deal flow leads to poor investment results. When we say poor deal flow, we’re referring to the breakdown in the consistency of deals and the quality of the data used to track deals. 

Venture capital deal flow is a complicated process that demands efficiency and accuracy. Attempting to manage information and make critical investment decisions based on information haphazardly collected across emails, meetings notes, spreadsheets, and conversations, is a disaster in the making. 

The funding process is complex, requiring sourcing and screening of hundreds of investments, meeting with prospective companies, and assessing the viability of the possible investments through analysis and conversations. It all adds up to a lot of activity and information to manage.

Which is why we put together a basic CRM tool to help VCs manage their deal flow. 

In this free tool, you’ll find tabs that help you track your investments by:

  1. Deals
  2. Investment companies
  3. Investor contacts
  4. Meeting Interactions
  5. All of your intros
  6. Priority Status
  7. Company information
  8. Next steps

Using the tool, you can track prospective deals, including contacts, valuations, notes, and attachments. Additional fields help you stay organized and collect all of your source data in one place by including links to Crunchbase and LinkedIn profiles. 

The template is built for VC firms to easily adapt to their exact workflow. Here are a few tips to get started.

  • The Contacts field is a linked record field. That means that if you click on one of the blue tokens with a contact’s name, it will open up an expanded version of the record for that contact from the Company Contacts table.
  • The group records function allows you to group records based on a field of your choosing. Check out the By location view, which groups prospective deals together by the location of the company.
  • Hiding fields can be a great way to make views that show just the information you need for a particular task. Check out the Simplified overview to see an example of how hidden fields can let you focus on what’s important.

To get started using this template, simply create a free account on AirTable and select “Copy Base” in the upper right hand corner.

deal flow

Keep in mind that this template is excellent for individual use and to test how a CRM might work to organize your deal flow. However, if your firm is looking for something more sophisticated to grow your firm, we recommend investing in a CRM that can be customized and used across the organization. Altvia’s platform is a CRM solution specifically built for VCs and Private Equity firms.

We’ve seen that most firms are spread across a generic CRM, an email platform, and static spreadsheets. Disparate data sources across the firm make it hard to see the whole picture. 

Altvia, expands the capabilities of a regular CRM. Built for private capital markets, the platform accounts for all stakeholders and value drivers in a private capital markets firm setting. A cohesive view seamlessly stores contact information, conversations, email exchanges, and leverages 3rd party data enrichment, all in one place.If you’re just starting to explore the use of a CRM for deal management, try out our free tool. But, if you’re ready to adopt more sophisticated technology, we should talk.

deal flow

A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.

deal flow