Let’s Retire the Pitch
#1 Elise, Can we chat today at 2? I have a super business idea to talk about…
#2 We will try to build the brand by exploiting social media while reaching out to potential partners to create the cross-promotional opportunities. This might lead to higher marketplace visibility for our value proposition.
When in investor meetings, do you come across claims similar to these? If yes, here are some common responses that they may conjure in their minds.
#1- Oh, not again.
#2- Damn- This is nonsensical balderdash. delete- delete permanently- never show this message again.
What’s wrong with the way we pitch?
We are so pushy when we sell, that we desperately grope for the ‘I’ s and get lost in them.
So, what do we do?
Having been in the Management Consulting industry for close to a decade now, and being tossed over by people multiple times, we’ve gone to a point where we can actually help companies pitch to investors and come out victorious.
If you pitch, they will itch:
Well, you heard it right. DO NOT PITCH. The moment you pitch, there is a queasy feeling in the pit of the stomach “This guy wants me to shell out some money”.
Tell a story not about your brand or product, but of what is happening around you. Whether it is customers or investors, they will get hooked on what you say. And when you do this effectively, you will create a stronger connection between you and your buyers. This connection is often based on the fact that they can relate to your brand on a personal level, giving them even more reason to buy.
The famous novelist Virginia Woolf once said, “ Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
Strike at that consciousness. Appeal to the heart. Back it up with facts.
Approach linear, and you have lost it. Start by naming the undeniable shift in the world that creates big stakes and huge urgency for your prospect.
The heart and the head go hand in hand…
If your elevator pitch is long, they will take the staircase:
When I go to networking events, one of the questions that I ask everyone whom I meet is “What does your company do? Or which business are you in”? Often times, I have seen CXO’s go on a monologue describing their business and I stifle a yawn.
This is precisely what you should not do while pitching. You start with a crisp and brisk elevator pitch that is hyphenated between small talk and how your product or service would solve a problem or make their lives easier. Have a well-crafted pitch that takes no longer than a minute to deliver in an unhurried — but rehearsed manner.
Brevity is the soul of wit…
If you meander, they would wonder:
Professional investors, such as venture capitalists and serious angel investors, do not have long attention spans. The reason is not necessarily that they have attention deficit disorders but that they need to consider, evaluate, and choose among so many investment proposals that 30 minutes of uninterrupted time is all you can reasonably expect to have to present your proposal.
Be sure to talk about the initial pain point your product solves.How did you come across it? Why are you solving it? Why is your approach the best one and how can you solve the problem for more people as a result of raising capital?
Be clear, simple and easy to act upon.
Omit the fluff…
If you just talk about API’s, they want to know about KPI’s
You may be a tech geek going aboard about the cutting edge technology you would use in the product. Period. That interests only you.
Great investors understand KPIs. They would be interested in knowing what your KPI’s would be. For example, a basic KPI such as total sales is critical for understanding if the company is performing well. “Underlying” KPIs are equally as important. For example, if sales are affected by the number of visitors to your website, number of visitors who complete a contact form, number of proposals you issue to these leads, and the proposal closing ratio, then you should have a mechanism to track each one of them. It’s critical to identify the KPIs you will track in your business and list them in your strategic plan.
The numbers should say it, ALL…
They ask, you answer:
When you pitch a product, you do that to make the world a better place, create a long-term business that will keep you engaged and richly employed, and bequeath a legacy that will take care of your progeny. In contrast, the investor’s thinking process is usually “How do I make a lot of money in a short to moderate time frame?” Whose thinking process dominates? You need to understand.
Therefore, you must ensure your PowerPoint presentation and business plan address how the investor will make money from investing in your product or PoC.
Be prepared to answer investors questions about how the investment will be monetized through, among other things, licensing agreements with larger companies or a strategic sale of itself to a larger company.
Keep your food where your mouth is, or rather where your investor’s mouth is…
Repeat this for every meeting you take up, and after 3 or 4 meetings you would #notice you’re getting fewer questions.
You would not only have pitched perfect but also have been able to ride over the conundrum of the ‘yawn’ and ‘delete in the mind’ options of the investor.
That’s when you retire the pitch and bring about real results.
After all, you get patted for trying and paid for producing.