Effective deal sourcing is crucial for private equity firms that want to identify high-potential investment opportunities. While there are various methods and strategies for sourcing deals, it is essential to develop and implement a structured and systematic approach to ensure consistent success.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the basic and more advanced deal sourcing strategies that you might want to consider implementing! First, we’ll introduce the very basic deal sourcing strategies that are key for mastering deal sourcing for your Private Equity firm. Then, we’ll dive deeper into more advanced deal sourcing strategies, such as developing proprietary deal flow for your business. Finally, we’ll cover the best practices to keep in mind when building your deal sourcing strategy mix.

Old School Deal Sourcing Strategies

In this section, we will explore some of the basic deal sourcing strategies that are commonly used by private equity firms. By utilizing these basic strategies, private equity firms can build relationships with industry insiders, stay up-to-date on industry developments, and identify potential investment opportunities. 

The old-school deal sourcing strategies include:

  • Warm connections: networking and referrals
  • Cold outreach: systematic cold outreach, marketing efforts and highly customized outreach

Let's dive into each of these strategies in more detail.


Networking is a critical strategy for private equity firms looking to source deals. Attending industry events, conferences, and trade shows can provide valuable opportunities to connect with potential targets and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the market. 

Staying in touch with college time friends and attending events is invaluable for maintaining relationships! It’s also important to build relationships with investment bankers, consultants and network with other private equity companies. These connections can be a valuable resource, offering insights and ideas you might not have considered earlier. They might also be selling companies themselves and you’d want to be the first one to know.


Related to networking, referrals can be a powerful strategy for sourcing deals. As you’ve been building strong relationships with other professionals in the industry, you can increase your visibility and reputation - making it more likely that they refer a potential client to you! Private equity firms can position themselves as the go-to choice by establishing themselves as a reputable and trustworthy partner in the industry.

Additionally, old customers can also be a valuable source of referrals. Maintaining good relationships with previous clients can keep your firm top of mind, making it more likely that they will give you a referral when a potential deal arises. By leveraging referrals as a deal sourcing strategy, private equity firms can tap into a network of potential investment opportunities and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Industry Publications and Online Resources

Industry publications and online resources such as databases, market reports, and industry-specific websites can provide valuable information and insights into potential targets and opportunities. This is one way to also hear about the industry events and conferences happening near you!

Cold-calling and Direct Outreach

Reaching out to potential targets directly can be a useful way to generate deal flow, although it requires a more targeted and strategic approach. AI-powered tools with contact data can help you do this in a more efficient manner. For example, with a tool like Inven you can search for companies that operate in your specific niche and get their contact information easily with a few clicks. 

When you build a big list of potential targets with their contact data you can also consider using call-centers for cold-calling hundreds of businesses daily. Though, it is essential that you use a high-quality call-center as your company’s reputation is on the line too. Other highly used direct outreach channels are LinkedIn, emails and even old-school postal cards.

Highly prepared customized pitches for off-market companies

Another strategy used by high-performing private equity firms is presenting highly prepared pitches to win proprietary deals with selected potential targets. Thorough preparation is key to executing this strategy successfully. Start by identifying 2-5 high-quality potential targets that align with your investment thesis. These companies should not be on the market, and the goal is to convince them to sell their company by demonstrating how you can bring additional value. Once you've identified your targets and built a thorough understanding of how you can help them, schedule a pitch with each potential target to present your ideas, future strategies, and the benefits of working with your firm. If executed well, this strategy can convince entrepreneurs or family-owned businesses to sell their company without an in-depth bidding process, potentially leading to a lower valuation and shorter timespan for the target company.

This strategy is particularly effective when there is a specific deadline or pressure to find new investments, such as the final investments of an old fund or the first investments of a new fund.

Advanced Deal Sourcing Strategies

As competition in the private equity market continues to intensify, developing and implementing more advanced deal sourcing strategies on top of the basic strategies has become increasingly important for firms seeking to gain an edge and identify unique investment opportunities.

In this section we will cover some of the more advanced deal sourcing strategies that private equity firms can use to generate proprietary deal flow and leverage technology and data analytics to identify high-potential investment targets. These advanced strategies can not only help private equity firms stay ahead of the competition, but also provide access to unique deal opportunities that others may not have. 

Advanced deal sourcing strategies can be divided into five:

  • Developing proprietary deal flow
  • Building relationships with industry insiders
  • Collaborating with other firms and investors
  • Leveraging technology and data analytics
  • Developing and executing creative deal sourcing campaigns

Developing Proprietary Deal Flow

Developing a proprietary deal flow involves proactively identifying and pursuing potential targets, often by leveraging data analytics, market intelligence, and other advanced tools and techniques. The most advanced PE firms use Artificial Intelligence powered tools to make this process efficient and effective. Learn more how to use AI in developing proprietary deal flow. 

Building Relationships with Industry Insiders

As we mentioned earlier, networking is truly powerful when you want to create that deal sourcing flow. We recommend building relationships with key decision-makers, including executives, entrepreneurs, and industry experts. This way you will be the first person in their mind when selling or buying becomes timely for them. This strategy takes time but it will generate high-quality deal flow for your private equity firm.

Collaborating with Other Firms or Investors

One strategy is collaborating with other private equity firms or investors. This refers to partnering with other firms or investors to find and acquire deals that meet both parties’ investment criteria. For example, some private equity firms may establish joint ventures or co-investment arrangements. Or, you might want to consider partnering with industry experts who can identify and evaluate potential opportunities. The key is to approach relationship building and collaboration  systematically. 

One best practice is to create a spreadsheet with all the important contacts and companies that your private equity firm should have close relationships with. Assign team members to be responsible for organizing frequent lunches and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in each contact's business. This ensures that no relationships are overlooked and helps to maintain strong connections with potential collaborators, increasing the likelihood of successful partnerships and investment opportunities.

Leveraging Technology and Data Analytics

Using technology and data analytics to identify and evaluate potential targets and trends helps private equity firms generate more accurate and timely deal flow and make more informed investment decisions. Today, there are various AI-powered tools that make this a really effective strategy. For example, many of our customers use Inven to find companies that are: family-owned and therefore might be ready to sell or private equity-backed to add them to your buyers list.

Best Practices to keep in mind for Effective Deal Sourcing

Once you’ve chosen the strategies you want to pursue, these best practices might help you to truly succeed and make the most out of it. These best practices are based on industry research and insights from experienced deal makers. By following these, private equity firms and M&A professionals can enhance the likelihood of succeeding with their chosen strategies.

1. Maintain a disciplined and systematic approach

Trying everything here and there will not work. This way you never get to know what actually was the strategy that worked and how you can improve. To maintain a disciplined approach you should first, choose the strategies you are pursuing and second, create a consistent process for executing and evaluating your chosen strategies.

2. Cultivate diverse network of sources

In this blogpost we have introduced nine deal sourcing strategies of which some are more old-school and some more advanced. The key to success is implementing more than one of these strategies. It is crucial to have a diverse network of deal sources. This way you can count on great deals coming your way. So, do focus on developing relationships and networking but also see how you could leverage data and for example, AI-powered tools in deal sourcing.

The sources we’ve seen working best as introduced in this article:

  • Networking
  • Referrals
  • Cold-calling
  • Customized pitches
  • Generating proprietary deal flow
  • Relationships and collaboration with other private equity firms, investment banks and consulting firms
  • Leveraging AI softwares

3. Measure and analyze performance and results

Last but definitely not least, you should always make sure to measure and analyze your performance and results. It’s essential to track how different deal sourcing strategies are working while keeping in mind the time spent. One way to do this is to always track where your firm’s deal flow comes from. By doing this, your Private Equity or M&A company will have a clear view on what strategy to focus more and what not.


In conclusion, effective deal sourcing is a critical component of private equity investing, and developing and implementing a structured and systematic approach to deal sourcing is essential for consistent success. Private equity firms can utilize a variety of strategies and tactics, including networking, industry events, online resources, direct outreach, and more advanced techniques such as proprietary deal flow development and leveraging technology and data analytics. Especially today, there are various AI-powered tools that can help you take your company’s deal flow to the next level. Consider for example tools like Inven to save time in your company search and outreach efforts. 

It is important to maintain a disciplined and systematic approach to deal sourcing, balancing the quantity and quality of deal flow, cultivating a diverse network of sources, staying up-to-date on industry trends and news, and measuring and analyzing performance and results. By following these best practices and strategies, private equity firms can identify and capitalize on high-potential investment opportunities and generate superior returns for their investors.

To generate proprietary deal flow effectively, you need to systematically reach out to potential businesses that are ready to sell. Follow these steps to yield the best results:

  1. Build a list of targets that fit your criteria. Consider using AI-powered software to efficiently identify potential targets.
  2. Contact the companies either directly or through an introduction obtained through networking.
  3. Prepare for the meeting by gaining a good understanding of what the company does and who their competitors are.

By following these steps and strategies in this article, you can increase your chances of generating successful proprietary deals.