Does the thought of pitching to investors and selling to customers excite you or make you extremely uncomfortable? Some of you are very smooth at presenting, but not very successful at receiving funding. Others of you sound robotic, spitting out some artificial sounding sales spiel that you don’t believe yourself; you end up short-changing investors and customers on your viable venture.
Regardless of which one of the preceding scenarios describes you, Failure to Obtain Funding from investors and Failure to Acquire New Customers is the result of some mis-perceptions of your role as the CEO of your start-up.
The following 5 tips review what you need to keep in mind 24/7/365, no matter what stage your venture is at.
1) You are the CXO of your startup or your sales or technical career. This includes being the Chief Marketing, Operations, Sales, Financial, Technical, R&D Officer, and any other open position! You are the only person who best understands the intricacies of your product, service, platform. If you are waiting until you are successful enough to hire your first VP of Sales to solve all your revenue issues, stop. Unless you can articulate exactly what this individual needs to do for your company, you’ve just wasted 12 months and about $200K on their salary. You are your company’s first Sales Officer. Your venture’s future is up to you, not just the sales guys and gals.
2) Stop pitching at investors and customers. They probably aren’t interested in catching what you are throwing at them. Start a dialogue about them, not you and your venture. Selling (yes, I said that word “sell”) involves dialogue showcasing your industry-related expertise on their situation. Have you done your homework about them or are you showing up, like everyone else, with your hand out for their money?
3) Communication is the hallmark of humanity. Yours is nothing short of the hero or heroine’s tale. What is your story? Have you created a compelling reason for them to do business with you and your company? Stories are engaging and enduring. Do you feel that way about yours? It doesn’t sound like pitching anymore, when described in this manner, does it?
4) Your story should interweave four areas in which investors are interested: knowledge of their industry and marketplace, your value proposition focusing on the relevance and value that you bring to their business table, your business model which is the fulcrum leveraging your ability to deliver as reasonably and feasibly promised, and your financials including your understanding of how cash moves through not only your company, but your investors’ and customers’ as well.
5) People invest in YOU, not your product, service, platform. They invest in your ability to lead your team. They invest in your being proactive and anticipatory of their skepticism of your venture and their reluctance to change. Do your homework. Be prepared to answer their “So What?” question, even if they don’t articulate it that way. Become that provocative and engaging thought-leader / CEO-peer who compels them to invest in your company and continue to do business with you.
Is this the way you see yourself, when you look in the mirror each morning and prepare for your day in the globally competitive business world?
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. She gets people together who are often on opposite sides of the table, like engineers and sales people or entrepreneurs and investors. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with entrepreneurs, start-ups & investors, as well as small businesses and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating and portfolio-building business development strategies. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named 2012 Finalist, Top Sales & Marketing Awards. Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC. All rights reserved. ©