We've been on this journey together for quite some time now. I continue to be inspired by the entrepreneurs like you who find a way to buck the odds and get the funding needed to turn your visions into reality. As I've looked back over the past 18 months we have discussed all the important elements to a successful funding We've gone into great depth about most of them. But it occurred to me that I haven't yet laid the entire success formula out for you in one post.
So here it is:
The full formula for winning funding is:
- a Viral Vision Statement/Elevator Pitch +
- a Powerful Pitch Method +
- the Correct Pitch Content +
- a Winning Business Strategy +
- a Trustworthy CEO +
- a Balanced Team +
- Understanding the Mind of the Investor
I encourage you to write this formula down. Keep it in front of you. Put it on post-it notes. Do whatever you do to keep important things in the forefront of your mind. This is the Master Equation. Get all of those elements together and you're likely to get the funds you require. We'll refer to this equation frequently in coming posts. Today, let's review a Powerful Pitch Method (how to deliver your pitch powerfully) to complement what you are already working on with creating your pitch.
Most recently in this blog, we've been discussing how to create a winning elevator pitch. I've given you the formula that countless entrepreneurs have used to win a full follow-up with investors. I trust you're working with your own elevator pitch to mirror what we've discussed. But having the right formula is only part of the success formula. You have to deliver it powerfully. That's partly a matter of practice and partly a matter of understanding conversational dynamics.
Recall that last fall we discussed the bestselling book "Pitch Anything" by Oren Klaff. Now that you are engaged in mastering pitch construction this is the perfect time to review Mr. Klaff's advice on how to take control of investor conversations. We began the conversation with the context that when you first meet an investor you have a trust barrier to overcome. I'll review our previous material on the big picture about gaining investor trust in coming weeks. For now, let's review Mr. Klaff's work on overcoming the initial resistance to you and your pitch.
At the outset of your conversation with an investor you are likely dealing with his or her crocodile brain. This part of the brain is dominated by fight or flight reflexes. The voice in the investor's head is asking whether you are trustworthy or whether they should run (or eat you!). As we discussed in that post, the way past the crocodile brain is to establish that you're trustworthy. Until you do, you're fighting an uphill battle because, as Klaff points out, "our most important messages have a surprisingly low chance of getting through," because the crocodile brain literally can't hear them.
Recall that we spent weeks delving into the secrets of establishing investor trust. This would be a good time to review those posts!
Once the trust barrier is overcome, you're dealing with the dog brain. This is the social part of the brain. It is concerned with whether you are someone the investor is interested in enough to spend time with. You may recall that winning the battle with the dog brain is not about being likable. It isn't about being socially acceptable per se. It is about whether you are someone that specific investor wants to spend time with. It is about whether that specific investor finds you to be someone they'd consider connecting to their other contacts; someone with whom to form an ongoing relationship.
Your challenge is that in the "dog world" the alpha dog gets the prize. Most of the time the investor will speak to you (and listen to you) from the perspective that he or she is the alpha dog. You have to turn the tables. Klaff calls this process frame control. Let me remind you what I wrote about the process in an earlier post: you reframe the conversation by coming from a larger place, a morally superior place. You accomplish this by reminding the investor that you are the visionary, you have the market-changing or world-changing product, service, tactic or strategy. All they have is money. You have a team and vision to accomplish great things. You are the prize that they are seeking.
When you break through the dog brain barrier you are finally dealing with the investor's rational mind. The important things you have to say can be heard. But don't make the critical mistake so many make in trying to overcome the dog brain barriers: do not try and dazzle the investor with the facts, figures or analytical genius of you and your team. That generally reactivates the crocodile brain. You demonstrate that you're the alpha dog by telling a great story at the right time. You tell a story about you as a leader, overcoming an obstacle to creating a positive conclusion. You tell that story if you sense your pitch is going off the rails; when the investor is falling back to his or her crocodile brain. The story reframes the conversation, returning you to the position of being the prize they seek. It works because it restores your position of being a person who can be trusted to win the battle you want the investor to fund. I laid out the exact recipe for structuring that story here.
At the end of the day all of these strategies occur within the same context: the purpose of pitching is to express your vision to the investor in such a way that they get it and trust you to achieve it. The more understanding about how to overcome investor objections, the better able you'll be to be heard in the critical moment, to be understood, to be remembered, to be accepted at all three levels of the brain.
Now that these success strategies for pitching are fresh in your mind, let me remind you that they need to be practiced to be perfected. That's one of the things we do in the Entrepreneur'$ Boot Camp. It's the best forum I know of for perfecting a pitch, then practicing that pitch over and over. You do it before experienced investors with the know-how to help you hone it to perfection. Few actors win Oscars without years of perfecting their craft, countless hours in acting classes, hundreds of auditions. Why would it be different for entrepreneurs attempting to get the prize of funding? It isn't. That's why there is no substitute for practice and there's no better forum for practicing than in front of experienced investor-coaches who want you to win.
In coming weeks we will explore the other elements to the success formula I laid out above. Master each part of the formula to put yourself in the best position to win with investors.
Imagine how it would change your future if instead of chasing investors, you commanded their attention.