Thought Leadership

Make Winning Acquisition & Partnering Deals with Holistic Secondary Research

August 23, 2021

Anyone who’s ever made a major purchase decision has probably done their own version of secondary research. Ever bought a car? Most people wouldn’t go straight to the dealership. They might have a type of car in mind, but they’ll want to make an informed decision. They might check out websites to compare features or read Car and Driver for expert reviews and ratings. They might seek out the opinions of current owners on YouTube or ask someone they know. That’s secondary research —compiling, curating, and analyzing existing data to drive informed decision-making.

Okay, that’s a super simplified version of secondary research. For mergers and acquisitions or partner scouting, you’d obviously want a caliber of secondary research expertise that goes further than a Google search. You’d want a thorough and nuanced understanding of industry disruption, regional and geographic specificities, and in-depth company profiles. The consequences of M&A decisions are high. Acquisitions and partnerships can carry enormous risks: financial, operational, and cultural. Comprehensive secondary research can give you the data and understanding to make the right decision.

For M&A and Partner Deals, Secondary Research Must Go Way Beyond the Search Bar

The good news is there’s a goldmine of data in the public domain…if you know where to look and what to do with it. You can use secondary research to get answers to critical M&A and partner scouting questions:

  • What is the competitive environment?
  • What’s the financial health and future outlook of the target company?
  • Any potential conflicts?
  • Are there regional and regulatory watch-outs?
  • Where is the opportunity?
  • Technology specifications?
  • Employee perspectives?

At Escalent, we mine sources you wouldn’t find in a basic web scan. Sources can include subscription databases, government resources, patent filings, and financial statements. Our analysts have been known to reverse engineer an organization’s structure via LinkedIn and paint a picture of a company’s employee culture and future outlook through social listening. If needed, they’ll interview former employees or track down other experts who may have insights that aren’t available in the public domain.

In one case, a global technology client was looking to acquire an upstart player in the IoT (Internet of Things) realm. The challenge: so many upstarts! The client needed a clear overview of player potential in a crowded and fast-evolving field. First, we developed a framework to identify prospects that would complement the client’s value proposition. Then we dug into hard-to-find yet publicly accessible data to inform a shortlist of companies with the growth profile required. And to shorten the shortlist, we interviewed a handful of insiders identified through secondary research. We then created detailed profiles of high-potential contenders. The final product was delivered in the form of an easy-to-use interactive dashboard.

In another engagement with a global investment firm, our client was looking to enter the fast-evolving car-sharing marketplace. They had their eye on a few companies but needed more information before committing to what would be a significant investment. To add to the challenge, this was a nascent market where information was limited, sensitive, and difficult to quantify. Our approach combined a review of existing information, financial reports, industry opinions, company websites, and marketing materials along with first-hand conversations with early-adopter car owners to refine our client’s valuation approach. Over the years, investors and portfolio managers have relied on critical insights from our analysts to inform numerous such decisions and deal flow.

Need Secondary Research to Inform your Next M&A or Partnership Play?

Secondary research is fast and cost-efficient. It is the ideal starting point for identifying M&A and partner targets, based on your business growth objectives. We help vet opportunities, assess risks, and deliver the insights you need to find your match and negotiate the right outcome.

Contact us to learn more about our secondary research capabilities, M&A research, and Partner Scouting frameworks.

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Svetlana Gershman
Svetlana Gershman
Director, Technology

A seasoned professional, Svetlana is accustomed to taking ambiguous business questions and shaping a research roadmap for finding actionable answers. She is known for innovative approaches to tricky problems and stays engaged in the market research community as a board member of Puget Sound Research Forum, a Seattle-based association of insights professionals. A graduate of the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Svetlana is a technology enthusiast, fashionista, and online shopaholic. A true Pacific Northwesterner, she's also into skiing, hiking, and just about anything outdoorsy. Born in Russia, Svetlana has a true bi-cultural perspective and loves to travel, though she currently spends most of her free time jamming with her three musically talented children.