Outbound Email Tools for Proprietary Search

Table of Contents

In the business acquisitions, proprietary search is a crucial strategy for identifying potential targets that are not publicly listed. An effective outbound email tool is essential for executing successful email campaigns and engaging with potential sellers. Recently, a discussion on the Searchfunder forum highlighted several recommended tools for this purpose. Here’s a detailed summary of the key insights and recommendations shared by experienced professionals.


What is Proprietary Search?

Proprietary search involves identifying and reaching out to potential acquisition targets that are not actively listed for sale. This approach relies on direct outreach, often through email, to engage business owners who may be open to selling but have not yet taken steps to market their business.


Pros of Proprietary Search:


  • Exclusive Opportunities: Gain access to acquisition targets that are not available on the open market.
  • Less Competition: Reduced competition compared to businesses listed on public marketplaces.
  • Better Deal Terms: Potential for more favorable deal terms due to direct negotiations with business owners.
  • Stronger Relationships: Opportunity to build stronger relationships with business owners, which can lead to smoother transactions.


Cons of Proprietary Search:


  • Time-Consuming: Requires significant time and effort to research, identify, and contact potential targets.
  • Lower Response Rates: Business owners may not be interested in selling or may not respond to unsolicited inquiries.
  • Lack of Information: Initial outreach may lack detailed information about the target business, requiring further investigation and due diligence.
  • Higher Costs: Potentially higher costs due to the need for specialized tools and services to support the search process.


Key Requirements for Outbound Email Tools


  • Email Sequences: Automate email sequences to streamline outreach.
  • A/B Testing: Test different email variations to optimize performance.
  • Analytics: Track email open rates, click-through rates, and other critical metrics.


Recommended Tools


  1. HubSpot
    • Pros: Comprehensive CRM integration, extensive features for email sequencing.
    • Cons: Sequencing setup can be complex.
    • User Insights: Paul Khazansky suggests consulting a friend or hiring a consultant to navigate the sequencing setup.
  2. Outreach.io
    • Pros: Robust email automation and CRM integration.
    • Cons: Higher price point.
    • User Insights: Joe Gibson and Anthony Franklin recommend it for its utility and note its suitability depending on budget.
  3. Reply.io
    • Pros: A/B testing, integration with LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and strong analytics.
    • Cons: Can be complex for new users.
    • User Insights: Dana Delvecchio and Ryan Lynch highlight its A/B testing capabilities and comprehensive feature set.
  4. GMass
    • Pros: Affordable, user-friendly interface.
    • Cons: Limited advanced features compared to higher-end tools.
    • User Insights: Roger Chang and Roman Beylin find it effective for straightforward email campaigns.
  5. Lemlist
    • Pros: Excellent functionality, email warm-up features.
    • Cons: Limited to email-only outreach.
    • User Insights: Sumeet Chhawri and Brendon Temple praise its features and email warm-up option.
  6. Quickmail.io
    • Pros: Solid performance and high user satisfaction.
    • Cons: Less well-known compared to other tools.
    • User Insights: Lia Majid shares positive experiences, citing its reliability.
  7. Smartlead
    • Pros: Unlimited email warm-up, comprehensive features.
    • Cons: May require more technical setup.
    • User Insights: Kevin Zhang and Khaled Azar recommend it for its robust capabilities and effectiveness.
  8. Snov.io
    • Pros: Good balance of features and cost, includes CRM functionality.
    • Cons: Can be less intuitive than some competitors.
    • User Insights: Andrew Perlmutter offers assistance with setup, emphasizing its value.
  9. Instinctively.ai
    • Pros: Email warm-up and outreach capabilities.
    • Cons: Newer tool with fewer user reviews.
    • User Insights: Sascha Bitz and Nate Parker note its functionality and user satisfaction.


Detailed Comparison of Tools



  • Features: Comprehensive CRM, email automation, customizable templates, detailed analytics.
  • Pricing: Offers free tier with limited features; premium plans start at $50/month.
  • Use Case: Ideal for businesses looking for an all-in-one CRM and email marketing solution.
  • Setup Tips: Engage a consultant or use HubSpot’s extensive online resources for training.


  • Features: Advanced sequencing, CRM integration, real-time analytics, task automation.
  • Pricing: Premium plans start at $100/month.
  • Use Case: Suitable for larger operations with a higher budget.
  • User Tips: Take advantage of its integration with LinkedIn and Salesforce for a seamless workflow.


  • Features: Multichannel outreach (email, LinkedIn, WhatsApp), A/B testing, detailed reporting.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $70/month.
  • Use Case: Best for users needing multi-channel outreach and robust testing features.
  • Optimization Tips: Utilize its A/B testing to refine messaging and improve response rates.


  • Features: Gmail integration, automated follow-ups, mail merge personalization.
  • Pricing: Starts at $12.95/month.
  • Use Case: Ideal for small teams or individual users needing simple, effective email campaigns.
  • User Insights: Effective for those who prefer working directly within Gmail.


  • Features: Email personalization, automated follow-ups, analytics, email warm-up.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $29/month.
  • Use Case: Great for users needing high deliverability and personalized outreach.
  • Setup Tips: Make use of the email warm-up feature to improve deliverability rates.


  • Features: Email automation, team collaboration, detailed analytics.
  • Pricing: Starts at $49/month.
  • Use Case: Suitable for teams requiring reliable, straightforward email outreach.
  • Optimization Tips: Utilize the analytics to track and refine campaign performance.


  • Features: Email warm-up, automated sequences, comprehensive analytics.
  • Pricing: Custom pricing based on features.
  • Use Case: Ideal for users requiring extensive email warm-up and robust analytics.
  • User Tips: Combine with data sourcing tools like Clay for maximum effectiveness.


  • Features: Lead generation, email verification, CRM integration, automated follow-ups.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $33/month.
  • Use Case: Great for users needing lead generation and email outreach in one platform.
  • Setup Tips: Utilize its CRM features to manage and track leads efficiently.


  • Features: Email outreach, warm-up, advanced targeting.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $39/month.
  • Use Case: Ideal for users needing a newer, innovative tool with solid outreach capabilities.
  • User Insights: Positive reviews for its user-friendly interface and effectiveness.




Choosing the right outbound email tool for proprietary search depends on your specific needs, budget, and technical expertise. Tools like HubSpot and Outreach.io offer extensive features but come with a higher learning curve and cost. More budget-friendly options like GMass and Quickmail.io may be suitable for smaller operations. Consider trialing a few options to determine which best meets your needs for creating effective email sequences, performing A/B testing, and leveraging detailed analytics.


Frequently Asked Questions

Proprietary search involves identifying and reaching out to potential acquisition targets that are not publicly listed for sale. This approach relies on direct outreach, often through email, to engage business owners who may be open to selling but have not yet taken steps to market their business.

The main benefits include access to exclusive opportunities, less competition, potential for better deal terms, and the opportunity to build stronger relationships with business owners.

Essential features include the ability to create automated email sequences, perform A/B testing, and access detailed analytics to track email performance.

Some of the highly recommended tools include HubSpot, Outreach.io, Reply.io, GMass, Lemlist, Quickmail.io, Smartlead, Snov.io, and Instinctively.ai.

  • HubSpot: Comprehensive CRM integration and email automation; free tier available, premium plans start at $50/month.
  • Outreach.io: Advanced sequencing and CRM integration; premium plans start at $100/month.
  • Reply.io: Multichannel outreach and A/B testing; plans start at $70/month.
  • GMass: Gmail integration and user-friendly interface; starts at $12.95/month.
  • Lemlist: Email personalization and warm-up features; plans start at $29/month.
  • Quickmail.io: Solid performance and team collaboration; starts at $49/month.
  • Smartlead: Unlimited email warm-up and comprehensive features; custom pricing.
  • Snov.io: Lead generation and CRM integration; plans start at $33/month.
  • Instinctively.ai: Innovative email outreach and warm-up; plans start at $39/month.

The main drawbacks include the time-consuming nature of the process, lower response rates from potential targets, lack of initial detailed information about the businesses, and potentially higher costs due to the need for specialized tools and services.

Utilize A/B testing to refine your messaging, leverage detailed analytics to track performance, and consider personalized email sequences to increase engagement. Using email warm-up features can also improve deliverability rates.

Engaging with community experts on platforms like Searchfunder, consulting with friends who have experience with these tools, or hiring consultants from platforms like Upwork can provide valuable insights and support for setting up and optimizing these email tools.

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Picture of Written by Roman Beylin

Written by Roman Beylin

Roman Beylin is the founder of DueDilio, a leading online marketplace to assemble an M&A deal team. Our large and growing network of highly vetted independent professionals and boutique firms specialize in M&A advisory, due diligence, and post-acquisition value creation.

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