Sell your idea, don’t tell

Selling is tailoring your story to the intended audience, with the mission to create interest in your product or service.

Telling is sharing facts and figures that do not intend to persuade, just to state the facts.

When an entrepreneur is pitching a VC for capital, they are there to sell. Sell the vision. Sell the team’s expertise. Sell the traction to date. Tell the truth, but sell it.

Many times I see entrepreneurs who walk in with deep expertise and they forget to sell. They share metrics, specifics of their technology, and detailed case studies of their customers using their product. At the end of the meeting, I know a lot more about their business, but they may have missed the opportunity to sell me.

So if you’re planning on pitching, don’t forget to sell. It can be as simple as switching: “We have 20 customers using our product. We plan to have more revenue in August.“ to “We reached our goal of 20 customers early, a huge milestone. We’re excited that we have 6 others in the pipeline ready to go. With 26 customers, we’ll exceed our goal of $100k in MRR.” The story may be the same, but the story is more complete in the second. It proves: you have customers, you benchmark on milestones, you have exceeded goals, you have future plans, you plan to grow.

Small changes in language can take you from telling to selling. If you’re new to it, just start making the list of the things you want VCs to know about you: you focus on growth, you know your customers, have an experienced team, you have built something that is working, and you know how to sell. Practice weaving those into your story, be explicit, “we know our customers, we’ve spent X time with…” or “we have an experienced team, 10 years in this market…”.

If you learn to sell, it accelerates the conversation on whether this is a fit for the VC or not. If you’re just telling, you may have a lot of meetings, but never move forward. You can never get to the “yes” if you don’t close the sale.

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