(DGIwire) — Let’s say you are at the helm of a company developing a brilliant new tech gadget, a smartphone app, a revolutionary service, a brand, a new drug for one of the illnesses that plague humanity or anything else. Great! After all, business is the driving force in America and every major invention throughout history started with the kernel of an idea. However, without a plan and access to capital to materialize these ideas, many businesses wither before they ever have the time to grow. The fact is: There are over 15,000 businesses trading over the counter (OTC or not on a major exchange) and only about 4,000 of them have made it to the big time: NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The majority of these OTC businesses fold because they can’t raise enough capital to reach profitability because they lack a sound business plan or the management team lacks the necessary presentation skills and the ability to articulate their vision. To ensure this doesn’t happen to your business, you may need a refresher course or coaching on the key messages that must be imparted if you expect to recruit investors that are willing to support your growth and stand by during the inevitable challenges all businesses face at one time or another.
Landing investors—whether high-net worth individuals, angels, venture, institutional or retail—takes time and persistence. People aren’t going to invest their dollars in half-baked ideas, business plans that are poorly articulated or weak managers that lack the ability to impart their vision.
Having coached the management teams of over one-thousand publicly traded companies on how to “get the money,” Dian Griesel, Ph.D., President of DGI Comm, offers the following advice.
- Start with why. No investor will buy into your company “just because.” Investments are a commitment and people will want to know exactly what they will be getting…if they should choose to buy in.
- Tailor your talk. This is especially important if your company is in the biotech, high-finance, technology or engineering industries. If you are presenting for an audience that may not be well-versed in your field, tone down the jargon and use conversational language. Before getting technical or using too much industry terminology be sure to ask how technically deep the other party wants your explanations. Also– beware of acronyms. Although they might seem like everyday shortcuts to describe…whatever — many people simply don’t like to admit when they are confused during a business pitch. It is the responsibility of the manager seeking the money to constantly ask, gage, rephrase and educate when warranted.
- Questions are key. Don’t be worried if people throw a lot of questions at you and interrupt. As frustrating as this can be– it often indicates interest. Worry if they don’t ask questions. Keep in mind that you may not be able to answer every question asked at that moment in time. If you don’t know the answer, be honest about that. Promise to get back to them with the information—and do so in a timely manner.
- “Not today” doesn’t mean “never.” No meeting is ever a waste of time. Investors pass on investments for many reasons. If you receive a “no”–at least you know you’ve met with a decision-maker! Be grateful for that. But before leaving, do ask if they would like to be kept informed of your progress. If the answer is yes, reply with realistic goals that you can clearly deliver upon as these can become the catalyst that inspires action by those desired investors. If the potential investor says, “No, not my bailiwick” — thank them for respecting their own time as well as yours and move on. It’s a big, competitive world out there and you don’t have time to waste. There’s another investor who’s interested.
- Ask for the Money. Sounds simple enough–but, ironically, it is the most overlooked point of most investor/CEO meetings! If you find yourself shaking hands and leaving your meeting unsure if you’ve landed a new investor, you need to rethink your repertoire. Be clear in asking for the commitment at the end of your presentation, as in, “How would you like to proceed with this investment?” (Notice: That’s not a yes or no question!) If you do happen to get a long winded answer that seems to end with a “no”– your next question must be: “What will it take for you to invest in us?” Then listen and learn.
“Many people find it hard to ask for money,” says Dian. “It might seem difficult at first, but if you seem tentative, potential investors might think you aren’t confident in your own business. You’d be surprised at how many people will declare their investment interest if you simply ask or at least really listen to their concerns regarding what they require to feel comfortable with an investment.”
More of Dian Griesel’s advice can also be found her popular book, FUNDaMentals: The Corporate Guide to Cultivating Mindshare, and her new companion book, ENGAGE: Smart Ideas to Get More Media Coverage, Build Your Influence & Grow Your Business.
Copyright free content by DGIwire.