If you’re raising funds for your business, you have to convince investors to give you their time and money. First, you have to get meetings with investors. You're asking them to give you one of their most precious resources: their time. Second, you have to get the investor to give you another resource: money. To accomplish both, you have to present to them in just the right way.
Here are five tips to ensure that your presentation gets the response—and the funding—you want. If you watch ABC’s Shark Tank, you’ll see successful contestants using each of these techniques. To raise capital at any stage of your business, you have to be creative, just as you do when you're seeking growth funding.
1. Pitch a Strike
Within the first 30 seconds, investors need to understand precisely what your business does and why it’s a good opportunity for them. If they don't get it, they’ll lose interest or they'll interrupt you with adversarial questions. If they like what you’re saying, they’ll let you keep talking.
2. Use PowerPoint to Bolster
Your PowerPoint or slide presentation is a visual aid, not a teleprompter. Look investors in the eye to learn what about your venture is resonating with them. Are they nodding or grimacing? Your slide presentation should make your physical and verbal presentation stronger, not detract or compete with it.
Most of the contestants on Shark Tank have physical products and they make a show of rolling them out before the panel. If you have tangible products, make them the centerpiece of your presentation. Let investors touch and feel them so they understand and appreciate what your business does.
3. Tell Stories
Facts don’t inspire, but stories do. Even the most analytical investor will be partly influenced by stories. Tell stories that explain how you launched your venture or first conceived of your product or service. They can inspire investors and give them positive insight into you and your thinking.
4. Make a Connection
Investors give money to people, not ideas. An investor will only give you money if they trust and like you. That’s why it’s no surprise that successful Shark Tank contestants often start by making the judges laugh or smile. Develop trust by being genuine, building rapport, identifying commonalities (maybe you both grew up in the same town) and most of all—showing your passion for your venture.
5. Prove That 'They Will Come'
In the movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character hears voices telling him to build a baseball field: "If you build it, they will come." Every investor has to be convinced that if you make the product, establish the service and create the distribution network you envision, customers will beat a path to your door.
It's critical that your presentation prove that they will. You have to detail the marketing tactics you'll use. Bolster your pitch with evidence, such as established customer sales or purchase orders. The more concrete your evidence is, the better you'll make your case.
Investors are savvy individuals. You have to win them. They must be sold on your idea before they'll write that coveted check. Provide the right showmanship and substance to influence them and make them believe that your company is worth the risk.
OPEN Cardmember Dave Lavinsky is the president and co-founder of Growthink. The company helps business owners develop business plans, raise funding and prepare their businesses for sale.
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