Silly vendor, segues are for kids

Jim Milbery

We closed on a new deal at ParkerGale this week. We’re a small private equity shop, and we buy a company or two a year. In this internet age that we live in, it’s impossible to keep these deals private. Not that we want to keep them private, we don’t. At the minimum, we almost always issue a press release featuring comments from ParkerGale and the management team. It’s the response to the press release that grates on my nerves. The news gets out, and right behind it, my team starts getting bushels of inbound emails from vendors pitching their services in the most ham-handed way possible. These inbound emails follow a standard format. It starts with a single sentence fragment:

“Dear Jim, Congratulations on closing [Company Name] …”

The remainder of the email is a pitch for their services. Six words about our company and us and then pages of glop about them and their product. And this glop comes in two different formats: The first type of pitch that we get has little or no connection to the deal that we closed or ParkerGale itself. These go right from the “congratulations” into pitching us on how their services have DRAMATICALLY INCREASED REVENUE for the likes of Vista, AccelKKR, or GTRC. <Sarcasm> And, of course, my first thought is that we have to DROP EVERYTHING AND DO WHAT VISTA, ACCEL-KKR, AND GTCR are doing because that’s a guarantee of success. </Sarcasm> Look, as private equity owners, we are always looking for an operational edge. Copying what everyone else does is not a solution.

The second type of pitch is worse. It starts the same way with the same sentence fragment and then quickly spirals out of control. The rest of the message is a pitch for their services with a thinly veiled threat that [fill in the topic here] is often overlooked during due-diligence … but fear not, as THEY can help. Much of the time, these emails contain LOTS AND LOTS of UPPERCASE words so that we know that they are SERIOUS. Lately, most of these sorts of pitches reference information security, artificial intelligence, or blockchain. There is no reference to ParkerGale, our portfolio, or the company that we acquired — just screaming pitches for their products and services. It’s ridiculous. We could buy an ice cream parlor and, we’d get inbound pitches telling us that ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE is helping the WORLD’S BEST COMPANIES …. blah blah blah.

Closing at deal at a Private Equity Firm is a massive undertaking. It’s generally all-hands-on-deck across the firm — especially at smaller funds like ours. When we get a deal closed the whole team is exhausted, and we’re often catching up on other portfolio work that piled up over the last week of the closing process. We’re sifting through reams of emails and returning phone calls. And nothing puts a thorn in our paw faster than reading one of these crappy emails. I assure you that we don’t delete them, we login to our Barracuda device and block their domain permanently.

So how should you pitch us?

— Wait a week or two after a deal announcement. Sure, maybe you never heard of ParkerGale before, and our name just landed on your desk courtesy of a press release or a news flash. But don’t pitch your products or services right on the heels of a deal announcement, because we aren’t listening.

— Avoid the name dropping. Just because some other private equity firm uses your products or services does not make them relevant to us.

— Do some basic research by reading our web site, reading our portfolio company web sites, or have a listen to our podcast. We’re a pretty open book regarding our companies and our focus. If you want us to spend our time reading your pitch, then spend some time getting to know us and make it worthwhile for both of us.

Jim Milbery

Written by

Technologist. Strong opinions on technology, books and movies.

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