- What Is an M&A Pitch Deck?
- What to Include in an M&A Pitch Deck
- Free Pitch Deck Template
- Don’t Want to Spend All of Your Time Pitching? Try Listing on Acquire.com
Imagine reading a book without first checking the blurb. How annoying would it be to get halfway and realize it’s not for you? Even if you’ve been reading it for days, you’d probably prefer to cut your losses than spend another hour following a poorly-written plot.
In acquisitions, the pitch deck is the blurb of your business. Buyers don’t want to invest weeks into due diligence only to realize your business isn’t a good fit. Your pitch deck should, therefore, hook buyers in and persuasively explain why your business is worth acquiring – with facts.
The best pitch decks turn uncertain leads into eager buyers ready to continue vetting. We’ve seen what works when presenting your business to potential buyers online. The following is everything you need to create a compelling buyer pitch deck for your business.
What Is an M&A Pitch Deck?
Pitch decks help in many business areas: sales, attracting investors, landing clients, convincing your board to go private, and much more. Pitch decks are presentations used to convince people to take action.
M&A pitch decks are presentations giving your buyers the what, where, why, and how of your business. By the time your buyer finishes reading your pitch deck, they should understand:
- What your business does.
- Your market and competitors.
- Basic highlights of your finances like revenue and debt (more on that below).
- Why your business is worth acquiring.
- How they could make your business better and more profitable.
Why Make an M&A Pitch Deck?
You might see an exciting future for your business, but most of your buyers won’t.
Your buyers might not know anything about your industry, competition, trends, employees, or location. They need background information to understand why buying your business will benefit them in the long run.
A good pitch deck should entice buyers to acquire and run your business. By the end of your pitch, they should be able to see your business’s potential and understand how their expertise could help improve it, earning a return on their investment.
Do You Need a Buyer Pitch Deck in M&A?
Most buyers will want to know more about your business before pursuing it. This basic information tends to be the same in most pitch decks. While you’re not required to present this information in a deck, most sellers will provide either a lengthier pitch book or a short blurb about what they do. Crafting a pitch deck is a good start.
Upmarket transactions often replace the buyer pitch deck with the confidential information memorandum (CIM). CIMs are long documents prepared by a brokerage, investment bank, or other M&A advisors and presented to institutional buyers.
What to Include in an M&A Pitch Deck
Pitch decks often have similar parts but aren’t rigid. Remember, you want to entice potential buyers, and anything too formulaic might have the opposite effect.
Most M&A buyer pitch decks include:
- An executive summary
- Industry analysis
- A list of key assets
- Your go-to-market strategy
- Key financial information
We’ll discuss each of these more in-depth with examples below.
Most buyers get turned off if you start a pitch with a deep dive into your HR policies. To start, hook buyers in with the most exciting parts of your business.
Your executive summary succinctly covers the highlights of all of the information you cover later in the deck. Some sample elements to talk about in the executive summary:
- What problem does your company solve?
- Company history
- Transaction rationale (Why should they buy?)
- Risks and opportunities
- High-level financial information
An Example from Dropbox
We pulled a couple of slides from one of Dropbox’s first investor pitches when it was a tiny pre-seed in 2007. Investor pitches are slightly different from buyer pitches, but they usually cover similar material (investment is buying a portion of a business after all).
While this executive summary is light, it does a good job of covering the basics. You’ll notice they immediately debut the problem Dropbox solves, talk about their competition, and then explain what they do better.
Buyers want to forecast your performance compared to other businesses in your industry. Showing the broader industry, therefore, can work in your favor. For example, If your business is breaking even but all of your competition is losing money, that changes your position considerably. For your industry analysis section, inform your buyer about:
- Industry trends
- Your competitors
- Recent notable events in your industry
- Likely events on the horizon
Example from Dropbox
In this example from Dropbox, the founders created a simple graphic comparing them with the competition and then explained how they are better on the next slide. As their product was relatively novel, they didn’t focus on factors like current business regulations.
Your business likely generates value from assets like:
- Web domains
- Stock in warehouses
- Marketing processes
- Large contracts and relationships
- HR team
- Founding team
Highlight each of these assets in your pitch deck and their impact on your business. You might be surprised which business assets your buyers are interested in. One or two good client contracts could sway a buyer to acquire the whole thing.
Example from Dropbox
This presentation from Dropbox covers their assets in a two-slide sequence. At this point, they had little more than their codebase (in Python, no less!) and the credentials of its two founders, Drew and Arash.
They say an average product marketed well always does better than a great product marketed poorly.
How you market your business is a huge part of your price tag. You might have the same product as everyone else, but if you have a loyal social media following or are at the top of Google search results pages, your product is more valuable.
Even if your marketing strategy is flawed, buyers might see your challenges as an opportunity to fix what’s wrong and reap the rewards.
Include the following in your marketing strategy:
- How you gained your initial customers and spread the word about your business
- How you have continued gaining customers
- How you plan to gain customers in the future
Example from Dropbox
As Dropbox was early-stage during this pitch, its customer acquisition methods were theoretical at best. However, the cofounders proposed attracting customers using viral elements like file sharing. Many of these strategies ended up working precisely how they predicted.
Key Financial Information
You wouldn’t buy a car without ensuring the engine works, and buyers won’t buy your business without knowing how money flows through it. You can make millions of dollars in revenue, but your buyer will find out sooner or later if you continuously fail to make a profit.
Usually, your pitch deck will include figures like:
- Gross margin – your gross profit compared to revenue as a percentage.
- Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA)
- Net income
- Historical financial data from the last three to five years
- Financial projections for the next three to five years
- Your valuation – based on different valuation methods like price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) and discounted cash flow
Example from Shopify
Since the deck from Dropbox was from the pre-seed stage, they didn’t include much financial information. To illustrate the financial data section, we pulled some slides from Shopify’s 2016 fundraising deck.
Strategic Advantages and Positioning
If someone showed you a yo-yo and you’d never seen one before, you’d probably be at a loss as to why people would buy this plastic disk on a string. A quick demonstration of how the same yo-yo works might inspire you to buy it and make yo-yo-ing a lifelong hobby.
To round out a pitch deck, you need to tell your buyer what they can do with your business for it to reach its full potential. Make them excited about the possibilities when running your operations.
For example, describe a simple fix to your customer acquisition process that you’ve seen done successfully by your competitors. Tell them about a major customer complaint that you haven’t had time to fix but could boost growth or revenue retention.
Example from Dropbox
Switching back to the Dropbox investor presentation, they included one short slide detailing larger trends Dropbox was poised to exploit. It’s fun to look at this deck in hindsight since many of these strategies proved right on the money. Cloud file storage proved an excellent way to get peoples’ files online and reduced friction for web apps. However, today we know that Google largely came in and dominated this market.
By the end of your pitch deck, you’ve provided enough information to compel buyers to make an offer or decide it’s not the business for them.
Free Pitch Deck Template
While pitch deck templates can be broad, we’ve provided a structure based on the above examples you can use while creating your own. Along with free tools like Canva, finding a design template will be the easy part. Your focus should be on the content of the slides as detailed below.
Describe the problem your business solves for customers. How will the world change for your customers because of your business?
Industry Analysis Slides
List known competitors of your business. Explain what you have to offer that they do not. Comparison charts are useful here.
List all business assets you think are relevant to the sale. You may want to tailor this part slightly to your buyer. This can include your founding team and their backgrounds.
Marketing Strategy Slides
How did you gain your first customers?
How do you gain customers now?
How will you gain customers in the future?
Financial Stats Slides
When showing financials you should always include:
- Revenue (over 3-5 years)
- Profits (over 3-5 years)
- Growth in revenue/profits (over 3-5 years)
Strategic Advantages and Positioning Slides
Describe major growth opportunities and playbooks for making them happen. Make it easy for buyers to see how they’ll earn a return on their investment.
Don’t Want to Spend All of Your Time Pitching? Try Listing on Acquire.com
With the above advice, you could make a great pitch deck, but pitching your business over and over to warm leads is hard work. You may spend hours or days on the phone or attending meetings and pitching your heart out for nothing.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could pitch your startup once and then only spend time talking with interested buyers?
When you list your startup on Acquire, you’re automatically viewed by thousands of active and interested buyers within a few hours. We give you all of the tools and templates you need to create a compelling listing for your business and close your dream exit in weeks, not months. No need to spend hours poring over legal documents, making sure buyers have funds, or looking for hidden advisory fees.
It’s free to sign up and list your startup on Acquire. Sign up for an account today and make your dream exit with no hassle and total anonymity.
What Is the M&A Pitch Process?
When pitching buyers for your startup, the most common method is to:
- List potential acquirers
- Prepare your executive summary and pitch deck
- Reach out to buyers by yourself or through a third party like a broker
- Sign a confidentiality agreement and NDA
- Provide more details and vet your buyers
- Close your deal
You can also pitch many buyers at once by listing your business on an M&A marketplace like Acquire.com. Once you create a profile, thousands of potential buyers can view your business and decide if they want to buy.
What Are Key Metrics in a Pitch Deck?
Some metrics commonly seen on pitch decks include:
- Total addressable market (TAM) size – How many customers you project your business could potentially have.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC) – How much it costs you to gain a new customer.
- Customer lifetime value (CAV) – How much revenue each customer generates on average.
- Past growth and future projections
- Burn rate – how quickly you use up your funds
What’s the Difference Between a Pitch Deck and a Pitch Book?
Both terms aren’t clearly defined, most sources claim a pitch book is a longer version of a pitch deck with more detailed descriptions. A pitch deck is usually assumed to be part of an in-person presentation (like a Powerpoint presentation), but you could send a pitch book as a standalone document.
Do I Need to Include All of My Financial Data in My Pitch Deck?
You do not need to include all of your financial data in your pitch deck. However, you should include information about revenue, profits, revenue growth, EBITDA, and general operating costs. Reveal enough information so that there are no surprises during due diligence.
The content on this site is not intended to provide legal, financial, or M&A advice. It is for information purposes only, and any links provided are for your convenience. Please seek the services of an M&A professional before entering into any M&A transaction. It is not Acquire’s intention to solicit or interfere with any established relationship you may have with any M&A professional.