You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you see that fine looking dame on the subway platform? You exchange glances, hoping that she might approach you. Will she? Hardly ever, my good man. You see, the ball may be in your court since it is up to you to attack, but she has the power — all of it.
It’s remarkable how the game of booty resembles what most young entrepreneurs endure nowadays. Am I talking about their adventures in trying to pick up the pretty business associate? Well, not exactly. I’m talking about a far more daunting task: attracting investors’ attention. Especially when, in both cases, you are given a minute to describe what seems like a lifetime of efforts in the works. So, what is the best way to retain someone’s interest when pitching your idea? Simple, just think of what you would pitch to George Soros or Warren Buffett in an elevator ride.
Allow me to begin by pointing out that your target audience, the investor, does not know you. In fact, he or she may never have heard of you or your project, and for all intensive purposes, they lump you into the same category as the folks who have brought on the biggest flops in business. So, how to attract their attention? Simple.
Investors are human beings, so you must come across as a friendly, ambitious, respectful, and intelligent individual before they give you the time of day. You could be a hell of a good-looking stud, but if you are downright rude, chances are that the woman on the subway will find you repulsive.
Likewise, your idea could be groundbreaking, but if you lack the fundamental people skills that are required to succeed in business, then you will be cast off as an arrogant person that no one will want to work with. Reputations die hard when you give people negative impressions, but they die even harder when others describe you negatively.
The investor community is very tight, so coming across in a negative light could severely hamper any chances you may have of obtaining financing. Investors invest in people first, and then technology, so make sure that you leave a good impression. This human capital is the single most important factor that investors look at.
But they don’t care
It is true that investors may not necessarily care about what you are preaching. That’s why it is important to know your target market. You do not see Gillette marketing its blades to children do you? So why would you pitch a certain project to an investor that never invests in the sector?
The same principle applies to women, in fact. If you are to leave a lasting impact on anyone, it will not be due to what you are saying per se, but rather how what you’re say impacts them. Don’t believe me? Give it a try next time you are about to blab on about anything; mold the message to the recipient’s mind frame, and you will see how they will ask — no, they’ll demand that everyone shut up so you can continue.
Do you get investors’ desire by kissing them? Read on…
If the ultimate goal is to tap into the investor’s Desire that will lead them to Act — by investing in your vision — well, you must first Attract them and get their Interest. A-I-D-A is a system in marketing and it bodes well with investors (and the ladies, I’m sure). Admittedly, the acronym is simple; the challenge lies in its execution.
So how do you attract someone’s attention? Find out what it is that keeps them up at night; do some research. The fact that you are more than familiar with an investor’s strategy, risk profile and investment criteria shows that you know your stuff and understand the game. Moreover, the investor cannot help but wonder how much more you know about things that involve you, not him.
In case you really have no idea what to say, introduce yourself by highlighting what makes you stand out from everybody else. And don’t say nothing , because if that’s the case, then you have no business seeking financing.
The reality in business is that you must always Keep It Simple, Stupid. I always say that many people make their professions sound complex just so they can justify their stratospheric salaries. The reality is that only by making matters crystal clear do people really value and appreciate what you say.
Use everyday concepts to explain what it is that you do. Relate your achievements to things that you and I both encounter in our daily lives. Most importantly, how does your innovation address an existing need?
Investors are rarely scientists, more likely, they already respect your technical and business know-how; what they want to see is whether or not you can communicate your lofty vision in simple, typical terms.
Easy as ABC
So, perhaps you don’t have an Executive Summary or Business Plan to hand him (or beam him). No sweat, just make sure that you leave him with a great impression so he (or she) offers you their business card.
You heard it in Glengarry Ross and Boiler Room ; the key is to Always Be Closing. Why? The investor is seeking a clear timeline demonstration and vision of where you want things to go. Ask if you can send him more information, or where you can reach him. Whatever you do, make sure that one way or another, you leave an open door that will allow you to creep back in.
Next steps: follow up
Financing is a long and hard process. It takes time, patience, a thick skin, and determination. No matter how great your idea and your sales pitch, make sure that you follow up with the person in question. Drop them an e-mail thanking them for their time, and offer them more details (if they wish).
Call them in person, if you can, since ultimately, people like the talk, but investors check the walk. Moreover, the investor will respect that you do not leave things hanging and show him that you like to finish what you started. Again, how similar it is to pursuing women.
When all is said and done, the bottom line in life, love and business is that things get done far more because of who you are; whom you know; and what you have to offer others.
Business is a rat race; it’s okay if others bite the cheese, if it means that your tail doesn’t get caught in the trap.
Ash Karbasfrooshan is also the author of Course To Success, available at www.CourseToSuccess.com.