It’s true – The Pitch is a Bitch! It’s also the key way for startup founders to raise funding from investors. In the startup ecosystem, everyone needs money and investors have exacting, sometimes unpredictable, standards.
Then there’s this person called an Investment Pitch Coach – the one that you have this nagging feeling that you need. It’s so confusing when are trying to extend your runway and scale your sales and revenue. I mean, who is this person that is going to train you to present your business to investors? What should you look for in an investment Pitch Coach? And, while we’re about it, what on earth does a Pitch Coach do?
Maybe this will help.
While remaining mindful of a multitude of influencing factors, not least of all the information required by the investor, a Pitch Coach helps you to construct the spoken, written and visual aspects of your pitch, along with supporting material where appropriate. That’s the simple explanation.
You don’t have to feel guilty about needing help. It’s quite usual to consult an expert when something’s too close to your heart for you to see it from an outsider’s perspective. Sure, investors give pitch feedback but they work towards a 1 in 10 success rate. Your Pitch Coach works towards a 10 out of 10 success rate. She cares and her reputation rests on your success.
Letting a Pitch Coach in can be daunting. It’s a bit like being a parent who has the foresight to engage a driving instructor for the eager teenager. You have to stand back, let go and let someone else plot the route for a while. This person feels your fear and has done it before – thousands of times. So, my best suggestion for you lies in this single word – trust!
First of all, your coach will do a deep dive into your business and its engine while also asking loads of questions about the service history and your driving style. She’ll look under the bonnet and in the glove box to check that everything is there, in the right place, and in excellent working order. She’ll kick the tyres and ask you to talk about it. She’ll make you go “AHA” like you did when you first fell in love with your big idea. You’ll be glad that you trusted.
What you’ll be doing together is developing a storyline around verifiable metrics. It will be entertaining while remaining sufficiently informative about the opportunity you’re presenting. Then you’ll be trained on spoken delivery for both a crowd and a boardroom in your own, authentic voice.
Included in all of this will be best practice in slide decks and presentation skills, non-verbal communication, dealing with Q&A, managing meeting closure and continuing the investor/founder relationship.
No room for error
An experienced Pitch Coach has a tried and tested method of gathering the pertinent information from you. Expect a beady eye that picks up on subtle omissions. There’s no room for error so the checks and balances feel like you’re being subjected to a mini due-diligence process. You are! If she sees gaps, she’ll send you back to the drawing board. At the same time, know that your coach is rooting for you every moment of the way when investors are hedging their bets.
Pitching uses an element of science, authority of history, attributes of sociology, and characteristics of anthropology. The storyline – well, that’s art!
With a Pitch Coach by your side, you are so well prepared that investors can move forward to due diligence seamlessly. It will save everyone’s time.
Being able to pitch with conviction is determined by your preparation. You can wing your pitch as often as you like. Or spend weeks, even months, preparing with the intention of getting it right, first time. The extent of your determination to prepare for fundraising will be tested to the limit. No-one said this was going to be easy.
However, finding a coach is easy. Like all new drivers, you’ll get advice from everyone with a car, particularly those who’ve crashed a car. You could meander through the multitude of conflicting “5 tips for pitch success” on the web ... if you have time for the scenic route.
Let me challenge you with a key reality. All winners take their coach with them to the finish line!
So, let’s get back to my first question about what to look for in a Pitch Coach!
Your Pitch Coach should be:
Someone who constantly engages with investors and founders and has a track record in pitch training across the globe.
Someone who is a wordsmith – an experienced business-to-business communicator and story-teller. You are dealing with facts, in a story that needs to be persuasive; achieving this requires knowledge, experience and talent.
Someone who expertly integrates content, visuals and non-verbal communication to make a compelling pitch.
Someone who’s spoken on stage and in the boardroom. When you’ve learnt how to get your point across, it helps with those niggly nerves.
Someone who can write for listeners as well as for readers – the messages have to land the same but they’re different.
Someone who is both qualified and experienced at training others and gets the best out of them.
Someone with integrity who maintains confidentiality and whose business model avoids conflicts of interest.
Someone whose own reputation is reliant on yours.
When you find that person, you’ll shift up a gear.