Schools Training

How to Pitch Your Business Idea to Investors

16 JAN 2015
Career Path : Administration

Blonde female present graph on flipchart during business meeting

Pitching a proposal to a room full of people can be one of the most exhilarating parts of life in the business world. The anticipation, the second-by-second interpretation of the facial reactions of every investor, feeling that you’ve really gained command of the room – suddenly, all those years your grandfather spent in toastmasters make sense to you.

The proposal is finished, and you’re confident you’ve sold the room on the ground breaking concept you had prepared.

Within minutes, it’s rejected. There are numerous factors, aside from your performance, that could well serve as explanations. Because in any room full of people, there’s bound to be a variety of personalities. Here are a few you should be aware of when pitching your next business idea.

The Bulldozer

This investor is powerful, and he knows it. He’s had years to intimidate by steamrolling over folks who dare take up his time, and you have precious minutes to gain his trust. This is not impossible, but it does take a winning strategy. Most meetings take place in a business office on his terms. If possible, take him out of his comfort zone by suggesting meeting in a public place, such as a restaurant with secluded booths. Social decorum may prevent any outbursts, and your idea will take center stage, rather than his forcefulness.

Business people perk up at hearing the term MBA Online, so if you’ve earned your Master’s degree, you already you have your foot in the door. In his eyes, you are credentialed. If outbursts happen, give him time to calm down, call him by name to break through his bluster, and state your own opinions with polite, forceful language. Always remain friendly, as many bulldozers like to test your resolve. Once they realize the strength of your position, they are more likely to bend over backwards to consider your proposal.

The Complainer

Before you even reach the heart of your proposal, the complainer derails the conversation. The costs will be too much, the relevant personnel aren’t available at this time, the entire idea is untenable, ad infinitum. Problems naturally occur in any business venture, and rest assured she will force you to confront this truth. You run the risk of agreeing with the complaints, dooming your idea with this investor. Breaking through a chronic complainer’s flood of negativity will be a challenge, but you are up to the job.

A complainer likely feels powerless in many situations, often has an idealized sense of how others ought to behave, and is ripe for a self-fulfilling negative prophecy. A skilled response to complaints is to listen attentively, paraphrase the complaint but never agree with it, and move on to problem-solving mode. Earning an online business degree will help budding entrepreneurs understand the language of deal-making, and win this pessimist over.

The Clam

Perhaps the most troublesome investor is the clam. You may have won over the rest of the room, but notice after a while that this investor is contributing little or nothing to the discussion. You falter. Confidence eroded, your idea shrinks in importance even in your own eyes, because you do not know the reason for the silence. It may be thoughtful consideration of your idea, it may be that he is entertained by your speech and would not interrupt it for anything: you do not know. Your goal is to make him talk.

Open-ended questions work well. Ask why he is reluctant to express his opinion on a particular issue. When your clam opens, be prepared to wait as calmly as you can for a response. Do not fill in the silence yourself. If no response is forthcoming, comment on that fact. Should the meeting end in near-silence, terminate the discussion yourself, and set up another appointment.

Who have you encountered during a pitch meeting?  How would you handle a challenging potential investor?