Good question – there are various ways to develop a good pipeline for potential deals. Some companies even have a “watch list” of companies they are interested in acquiring and selectively have discussions with them from time to time.
As sources of deals, you can of course delevop:
1) your own long list and short list of companies and have discussions
2) reach out to advisors either that you give them a mandate for buy side, or that they know that you are interested in acquiring a business when they are mandated with the sale
Of course filling the own pipeline (point 1) is worth a discussion too.
BTW – Interesting would be also to see what is the ratio of discussion of M&A opportunities vs. deals where you conducted DD vs. deals that you actually closed.