Investor Pitch: Excite, Engage & Exit with the Ask

Posted by on March 27, 2009 at 11:32 am.

investorI’ve recently been coaching some entrepreneurs presenting at upcoming investor conferences. It’s something I’ve done for years and still enjoy. I remember the first investor pitches I gave and the first I heard, and can appreciate how “blind” many entrepreneurs are flying when doing their first investor presentation.

Although my advice is always tailored to the entrepreneur and company at hand, there is one nugget I try to share with all. Remember the goal of your presentation and don’t wander too far from it. In most situations, the goal is to Excite, Engage & Exit with the Ask.
Excite: Focus on what is most exciting about you and your business. Don’t get bogged down in re-hashing your business plan. If your technology is truly disruptive, make that point clear. If your team brings significant experienced or unique relationships, hit that. If customers are seeing immediate ROI from your products, put that front and center. Your number 1 job in an investor pitch is to generate excitement, preferably very early in your presentation. Getting audiences to shift forward in their chairs and pay attention is much more important than hitting the “textbook” areas of business analysis.
Engage: If the forum is a conference, then Engage means to deliver your message in a way most people will understand. Ditch the technical jargon and provide real-world examples of creating value for customers. If there is a unique pain point for your customer, share that story because it could evoke immediate understanding/emotion from your audience. If the forum is a partner meeting, then also look for opportunities to bring the audience into a discussion. Ask “how often X has happened” to them, their companies or their families — something you fix. Ask about the firm’s approach to investing so you understand them better and can relate to that in your presentation. Do something to drive two-way discussion — a partner meeting presentation that goes one-way is almost always deadly.
Exit with the Ask: Always, always, always end with a slide that details what you’re asking for or proposing. Don’t douse audience excitment with a dead-end close. You need to funnel the audience’s interest in your presentation into a decision point. Note, however, that the ask isn’t always just an investment amount. To the contrary, the ask at a conference may just be to get audience members to your booth for further questions. The ask at a partner meeting typically involves a dollar amount, but also includes understanding process “next steps” — driving due diligence or a subsequent meeting. By presenting your Ask to an excited and engaged audience, with your key Ask, you’ve maximized your chances for success. At the worst, making the Ask will help you avoid wasted time. If you didn’t excite the listener and they don’t react to your Ask, it’s a good sign to improve your pitch and focus your energies on your next prospect.

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