Whether you’re striking out on your own after years at a large firm, or have been in the boutique investment banking world a long time, you’re likely tackling a big issue day after day: how to create amazing pitchbooks, without burning through resources.
Integral to the deal pitching—and winning—process, a pitchbook is more than a token leave-behind. Once you have walked out of the door after a meeting, it’s left to speak for you and your team, to convey your expertise and ideas, and must be robust enough to withstand perusal by clients who didn’t attend the meeting. As such, you need to make sure that the document you slide across the table represents you in the best light possible.
Those new to investment banking are often surprised that execution is not the most important things that bankers do; it’s definitely the most valuable as it’s what brings in the dollars and keeps the lights on, but it’s not the most important. That would be the pitchbook. Without a pitchbook, you’re not going to be considered for those dollar-generating execution opportunities. With no pitchbooks, it’s only a matter of time until you’re sitting in the dark.
Given the criticality of pitchbooks, you can’t afford to relegate to an administrative burden or something to just check off the list. The drudgery of their creation—the mundane, repetitiveness of scrubbing numbers, tweaking designs, and repeating work—stems primarily from two things:
- A lack of creation process
- A lack of tools and technology designed to alleviate the burden
Or, together, an effective “pitchbook stack.”
An effective pitchbook stack will stop you kicking your laptop across the room in frustration when trying to build a pitchbook or staying up until 4 a.m. working on a presentation. Essentially, getting the right stack in place can be the difference between walking into a client meeting feeling confident or walking in feeling frazzled and uncertain. An efficient pitchbook stack is important because:
- Pitchbooks are pricey: Unlike execution work, you don’t get paid for pitching. They are loss leaders, or hopefully anyway. Anytime you’re doing something necessary for free; you need to figure out how to do it fast.
- The pitch:win ratio: The pitch:win ratio magnifies the cost of pitching. For most firms, this lies somewhere around 5-20%. This should inspire two thoughts: 1. Good content is important 2. There has to be an efficient way of producing this content.
- They give access: As a smaller firm, you’re often competing against larger companies with more resources to burn. An efficient pitchbook stack gives you leverage, meaning for every hour of sweat poured into a pitchbook, the client will perceive a manifold increase. What this means at a greater level is that your 20-person firm can produce work at the same degree of quality as a 50-person boutique, increasing your average deal size--and hopefully bonus.
So what does a good pitchbook stack look like and where is there an opportunity to increase cost effectiveness?
A typical pitchbook stack
From management teams at bulge brackets down to single-person operations, we hear the same thing, “Our pitchbook practice could do with some work” as teams look to challenge the status quo.
Before rebuilding a pitchbook stack, however, it’s important to know what each step of the current process is responsible for. Typical pitchbook creation flows look something like this:
How is each element used?
Data is essential to a pitchbook. As it’s widely available from specialist firms, it’s not efficient for a firm to collect their own information (not even bulge brackets do this). Depending on your industry, client size, and products you market, you likely work with between 7-10 providers who collect and organize the data for you, each with their own interface and systems data connection requirements.
Knowledge is power. But data is not knowledge. Knowledge comes from taking raw data and transforming it into information; this then forms the building blocks of your analysis. Transformation methods are pretty personal (either by senior banker or client), however, and any pitchbook stack should accommodate customizations.
This is the calculation method that increases the value of the transformed data. Something as simple as calculating the average of a benchmarking analysis, to performing a Monte Carlo simulation is all within the ambit of investment banker analytics.
Not as simple as it seems, the data layer needs to be able to store the output of your analysis and also store information in the source field itself. A pitchbook stack has to take into account the flexible data requirements of investment bankers.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a data visualization is worth ten times that. It needs to convey the results of your analysis, an understanding of the work performed, and your subsequent recommendations. And what’s more, it needs to be able to do all of those three things when you’re not in the room, serving as a reference points for continuing internal conversation.
Pitchbooks need to look as good as the advice you provide and using the default Microsoft Office style guide is the quickest way to say “I didn’t think too much about this.” When you’re not in the room, you’re represented by your pitchbook, so you need to make sure it is designed to a high standard and correctly represents your brand.
Your pitchbook software should bring all of the other points together and serve as a central location for creating, accessing, and updating your content.
Effective knowledge management is essential to leveraging work once it has been presented. The ability to recreate, edit, and update content saves time and helps you draw on previous knowledge, meaning each time you create a pitchbook, you are investing in future content creation.
When you consider the skills and time needed to be able to pull all of this together, it’s understandable why large banks have teams dedicated to just this problem. Not using the right technology stack for content production can place growth constraints on your firm, locking you out of competing for bigger clients and deals, so it’s really something you need to invest time and energy into getting correct.
At Pellucid, we develop workflow solutions to help clients transform data into amazing content more easily and quickly. If you think your pitchbook tech stack needs some work, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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