One common topic among Venture Capital professionals is dealflow management and the reality is that funds use a variety of tools to fit their own process flow:
- Email inbox (I kid you not)
- CRM tools (Base, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Close.io, Microsoft Dynamics)
- Customers support tools (desk.com, Zendesk)
- Dealflow Management tools (Sevanta Dealflow, Caplinked)
- Internally-developed solutions
Every solution has its own merits and pitfalls and we tried many solutions in the years. It was not an easy choice as we wanted a tool that is: flexible, easy to use, complete, mobile/desktop and…cheap. We think that we have found an optimal solution with Pipedrive (conflict of interest disclosure: it is one of our portfolio companies).
Our dealflow process
To provide with some context, at Paua we run a clear and simple dealflow process:
- Deals come in (“Inbox” stage) and a quick first analysis is done
- Every week we sit together and discuss deals (“Discuss” stage)
- Deals are either advanced to “Follow-on 1" stage, “Decline” or put on “Hold”
- Deals in the “Follow-on 1" stage are either advanced to the “Follow-on 2” stage, “Legal DD, IM and Final go” stage, “Decline” or put on “Hold”
- This is how our dealflow pipeline structure looks like (obviously I cannot share our actual pipeline here, so I have created an identical one populated with dummy companies)
A note on Hold & Decline stage
Given the nature of our business declining an opportunity is part of the job and usually we must notify about declining an opportunity (while usually in Sales it is the other way around), therefore we put rejections in a separate column as leads still have an action to be done, that is a decline call/email. A more common practice is to mark deals as “lost” in the pipeline stage where they are when declined. Also regarding on “Hold” deals, sometimes deals just get postponed and we like it to keep them there. Another good solution would be to put them in a separate pipeline just for Holds, this is the best solution if you have a specific procedure of reactivation for Hold leads.
Create your own pipeline
Pipelines, names and stages can be modified super easily to fit pretty much any dealflow process . To do so just go to “Settings” (click your profile picture in the top-right corner) and then click “Settings”
You will be welcomed in the Settings home, where all the customization and the magic of Pipedrive happens. Quite a useful place. In the left side menu there go to “Pipelines”.
After having clicked on “Pipelines” look for the button “Add new pipeline” in the right corner, you will be able to create and modify pipelines. Stages must be added one by one clicking on “Add Stage”
Bam! Pipeline created. Now go back to the general homepage (to do so just click on the Pipedrive icon and you are back to your regular funnel view).
Enter deals, move deals, insert notes, set activities, upload files
To enter a new deal simply click on “Add deal” in the top-left corner of the main funnel homepage. Once you have filled the input fields and clicked on “Save” the deal will be added to the funnel.
To see the details of a single deal and access the deal information page just click on a deal’s name in the main funnel homepage. You will then enter the deal information page.
In the deal information page you will be able to do multiple things:
- Input details in the left column — it works like a tagging system, so this will be useful when setting filters and when exporting deals data
- Insert notes — bread and butter of deals management (see screenshot above)
- Set to-dos and reminders (see screenshot below)
- Connect with emails — you can either integrate your email client in Pipedrive or use the “smart Bcc” function (see screenshot below)
- Upload documents — either upload manually or automatically send email attachments (see screenshot below)
To maintain an efficient process reminders and to-dos can be life-savers. Just click on “Add activity” and create an activity with a reminder that will automatically send you an email to remind you of the activity.
It is possible to connect email clients in Pipedrive but we did not do it so far (we are looking to do so after this new feature realese). Instead we have used Pipedrive’s powerful “Smart Bcc” feature. Every deal gets an automatically generated email address where emails can be forwarded to. Pipedrive will then strip the text from the attachment and upload the attachment while entering the text as an email-note. You will find the email address in the deal information page in the bottom-left corner.
Finally, to move a deal through the funnel simply drag and drop it in the main funnel homepage.
One good feature of Pipedrive is “Lost Reasons”. Through this a user is forced to input a reason when marking a deal as “lost”. It is possible to define a list of options (in Settings) and to track what are the reasons for declining deals that happen more often.
Data exports, integrations and other advanced features
We like to work with data and best with raw data. Therefore, we are eager users of the “Export” function of Pipedrive.
The Export function can be easily found in the left column in the “Settings” page. Just define what you need to export (hint: if you export “Deals” you will have the whole package so just go with this at the beginning) and then click on “CSV” or “Excel” depending on the preferred format. The database structure will be based upon your “tagging” structure (see above where I explain the left-column in the deal information page). Once you have your raw data just go crazy! I love to crunch our dealflow data, I strongly believe that modern VCs must own analytics of their dealflow.
There are many other advanced features available (not going through them here):
- Import function
- Forms integration (direct pipeline entry connected with a form)
- Bulk-overview to modify many deals at the same time
- Filters to easily find deals with certain features
On top of those you can integrate Pipedrive with a number of other tools:
- Slack (Zapier-driven)
- And many others -> have a look at Pipedrive Marketplace
If you want to give it a try here is my invitation link — you will get 8 extra weeks of free trial!