7 Free Online Tools to Improve Your Deal Flow
Having worked in small deal teams ourselves, we know how important it is to find the best tools to automate and enhance your deal processes. It’s even better when those tools are available for free.
Over the years, we’ve tried all sorts of sales tools to help get deals done and so we thought we’d do a quick round up of the best free tools we found, along with how we applied them to investment opportunities.
The tools we looked at can help you do everything from deal prospecting and outreach to booking meetings and deal execution.
At the time this blog post was published, all of the tools on this list had a 100% free tier available. Of course, ‘free’ often comes with advertising or feature limitations but it is often a great way to get started with a new tool before making a bigger commitment.
Finally, before we get to the list, we just want to state that this is not a paid promotion and we are not being compensated in any way by the companies included in this list.
For differentiating your outreach activities
Vidyard helps deal sourcers create and send personalized videos that stand out in a target’s inbox, thereby increasing the reply rate. In our experience, we found that putting a face to your name in a short video did increase email reply rates from business owners.
While Vidyard has over 250,000 customers, the vast majority of them are sales teams. It seems that few investors have adopted personalized video as part of their outreach process yet, as many owners we spoke with remembered us because our videos were perceived as unique.
We found Vidyard fairly easy to use and we created a custom video for each target that we then emailed to them. We then captured that we’d sent a video to the target in Galaxy, so that we could compare reply rates.
Vidyard has a free plan that doesn’t require a credit card and allows you to create a library of up to 25 videos that can be shared by email or through social media.
To set up calls without all the back-and-forth emails
Calendly is a scheduling automation platform designed to simplify the process of scheduling parties for a meeting. For deal teams, Calendly is a way to work more efficiently and speed up deal cycle time. It enables you to set up your calendar so that prospects can book a meeting with you based on your availability.
We found Calendly extremely easy to use and with over 10 million users, many of our targets either used Calendly themselves or were familiar with the concept. The trick for us to make Calendly successful was to be diligent about keeping our calendar up-to-date when deal activities forced changes in our schedule.
Overall, it definitely saved us time and it was particularly helpful for dedicated deal sourcers.
Calendly has a basic ‘always free’ plan that enables you to get started with one calendar and some customization of the booking page.
For making your social media presence look professional
You may be wondering how a free graphic design platform can help you with deal sourcing. Well, Canva can help by ensuring that your social media profiles stand out. Canva is essentially an easy way to create LinkedIn background photos or image-based social posts (including blog posts) without needing a graphic designer.
We used Canva to create professional backgrounds on LinkedIn for our deal sourcing team, to create graphics for blog posts as well as to create visual content for other website resources. You can even use it to create custom virtual backgrounds for virtual calls with targets.
The free plan was more than enough for our needs as it included over 250,000 templates and customizations using their drag-and-drop editor.
For tracking target companies
Owler helps you get the latest information on companies of interest. It’s like a higher precision version of Google Alerts.
You can use Owler to set triggers that automate outreach activities (i.e. email). We used Owler to track deal signals – data points that we felt may indicate investment readiness or interest (i.e. when an owner may be more receptive to an inquiry from an outside investor).
Examples of potential deal signals you can track on Owler include: if the company hires a new CFO, length of time passed since the last fund raise and news related to the Founders.
While Owler’s free plan only allows you to track a few companies, it’s a good way to learn if Owler is right for you and to test integrating Owler triggers into your deal sourcing process.
Magical: GPT4 AI Writer & Text Expander
For improving productivity on repetitive tasks
Magical is a Chrome extension that can save you tons of time on repetitive deal sourcing tasks like writing personalized initial outreach emails or replying to emails. It will automatically generate message content for you based on the context of the communication and you can save your favorite messages as templates for future use.
We found it particularly useful for storing responses to commonly asked questions, referencing URLs that we often include in messages (without having to navigate around various tabs) and entering information into Galaxy after a prospecting call. It also gave us ideas for message content when we were in a rush.
Overall, Magical saved us a few hours each week and we would recommend it as a free Chrome extension.