Service Secrets that Lead to Repeat Investments

This is the fourth and final post in our series The Stages of Investor Experience.

In our last post in this series, we covered how to manage investor relationships and keep your investors coming back for more.

While the management stage of the investor relationship is all about earning trust and anticipating needs, the next stage—service—is where best-in-class firms truly differentiate themselves from the competition. Instead of creating a more tactical management style, these savvy firms strategically position themselves to become less about “doing things right” and more about choosing the “right things to do” for their investors.

This approach boils down to everyone in the firm—not just the investor relations team—having a customer-centric perspective. Where maintaining relationships is reactive, providing excellent customer service is far more proactive. Top-tier firms understand this and seek out ways to provide added value to their investors through greater transparency, more co-investing opportunities, and impactful communications, which we’ll cover in more depth for you below. 

TAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH TRANSPARENCY

In addition to being honest, following up, and delivering more than expected (the keys to earning and maintaining your investors’ trust that we outlined in a previous post), transparency around investments is more critical than ever.

Take, for example, recent events in Saudi Arabia. In the wake of an American journalist’s death, investors who are bought into portfolio companies doing business with Saudi Arabia are understandably asking about their exposure. Historically, not all investors report on each company within the portfolio, but the best practice is to highlight any key issues that might affect the portfolio’s investments.

Best-in-class firms reduce risk and exposure by keeping their investors abreast of any changes affecting the companies within their portfolio. General Partners (GPs) who provide detailed company updates on what is going on with their investments provide the kind of service that leads to investors to come back to your firm during the next fundraising cycle.

PROACTIVELY OFFER CO-INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES 

Offering co-investing opportunities is another smart way to grow your existing investor relationships. Co-investments, you’ll remember, bypass the standard fund by investing directly in a portfolio company. Technically, co-investments are a minority ownership stake with many co-investors already existing as Limited Partners (LPs).

Both LPs and GPs are actively seeking co-investments, according to Preqin’s latest survey of fund managers and investors. That’s because 80% of LPs have seen their co-investments outperform private equity funds, with 46% seeing their co-investments outperform by a margin of more than 5%.

With co-investments, not only do LPs see higher returns and get to invest directly into the company at a minority ownership, they pay lower fees than when investing in a standard fund.

To stand out from your competition, use today’s Private Equity CRM Management System to track which kinds of co-investing LPs are interested in and what your firm has already presented to them. When opportunities arise, you’ll be well-positioned to target investors who are more likely to be interested.

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND WITH YOUR COMMUNICATIONS 

While Investment Relations routinely shares capital and legal documents with investors, this role calls for far more than transactional communication. Besides sending out a K1 every quarter and inviting investors to sit in on a regular quarterly performance calls, you can provide additional value to your investors with newsletters, annual meetings, deal announcements, and opportunities to connect with other investors.

Staying engaged with your investors not only shows that you want them to be informed, but it also demonstrates that you are proactively managing your investor relationship, which over time, is what leads to repeat investments. When you enter the fundraising stage again, you’ll be halfway to the close if you’re managing your relationships in this manner.

Best-in-class firms operating using a predictive approach are already adopting technology to share reports and fund information and then tracking what the investors are doing with that information. Again, software tools such as Altvia’s ShareSecure or Correspond Market Edition can help you improve the targeting and personalization of your communications for a more impactful touch.

The secret to being in the right spot at the right time when the next fundraising opportunity arises? It’s all about providing an outstanding LP experience to your existing investors, so they’ll want to do more deals with you. As we’ve outlined above, if you’re as transparent as possible, tailor co-investing opportunities to LPs’ preferences, and use every chance to communicate added value, you’ll be providing the exceptional customer service that attracts and builds successful relationships with investors for years to come.

If you’re looking for more guidance on ways to improve the investor experience, read our full guide by clicking below and be sure to subscribe here for future insights.

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.

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