Ah, the sacred elevator pitch. This is it – your one opportunity to make a great impression on an investor, the key to the future success of your business.
Want to make sure you don’t blow your chance? Here are eight things investors never want to hear in an elevator pitch.
Want to stop proceedings before they’ve even begun? Asking for a Non-Disclosure Agreement is a sure-fire way to turn off even the most engaged investors.
Every entrepreneur ultimately thinks they have a winning idea — the sure-fire recipe for success and wealth. This conviction can lead them to worry about their idea being stolen before they have the chance to capitalize on it. That worry can drive them to bring in NDAs to protect something that doesn’t yet have any real value.
Investors are reluctant to sign NDAs, and asking them to commit to doing so at an early stage in their interest is likely to sabotage the chances of your elevator pitch succeeding before you even get started.
OK, so you realize you can make do without an NDA, and have managed to get the valuable attention of investors. Elevator pitches are short and sweet, and are absolutely not places for long PowerPoint presentations or fancy ‘decks’.
Investor time is valuable, and you might only get the one brief opportunity to make your case, so make the most of it and ditch the security blanket of a prepared presentation — no matter which new-fangled app you use to create it, or which tablet you use to display it.
Sure, create a keynote that you can use to develop your elevator pitch. But when it comes to presenting it, leave the tech behind and engage human-to-human.
Even if you make sure to ditch the PowerPoint presentations, it can become obvious if an elevator pitch has been rehearsed too many times.
While it’s important to plan what you’re going to say to ensure you get across all of the points you need to make, it’s also important to seem conversational throughout your pitch. How you say something is almost as significant as what you say.
A large part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with people and being about to think on your feet. Showing that kind of adaptability during an elevator pitch clearly tailored for your immediate audience (instead of something entirely rote) is far more likely to lead to the outcome you’re looking for.
Investors are smart people, and they know it. They know what their time is worth and what information they need to decide, and they want to cut to the chase.
As such, pushy sales rhetoric won’t work on investors. The people you’re addressing have undoubtedly heard all the tricks before, and you can be sure that it is far from what they’re looking to hear from you, so pitch accordingly.
Make sure that your pitch mainly consists of the facts they need to decide whether they’re interested and the context they need to gain some insight into your character.
Most investors are smart people who are also expert communicators, so any efforts to baffle them with jargon are going to prove counterproductive.
In fact, using too many technical terms (even if they’re truly relevant) is likely to put off even the most switched-on investor. At this stage, they just want a short snapshot into your business, not a technical speech or a bombastic attempt to show off. Think about the beating heart of your company — what makes you different?
If all you have is a set of technical stats, investors won’t care. There’s no shortage of such companies available in any area you care to mention (for example, there are legit Houston businesses for sale online, no pitches needed). Show your humanity if you want to stand out from the generic crowd.
It’s important to talk about yourself in a pitch, of course. You need to convince your investors that you are the right person to run your business. But starting your elevator pitch by focussing too much on yourself is likely going to turn off potential investors.
While today’s millennials might be all about “me, me, me”, investors are looking for businesses with meaningful value and leaders that can look past their egos.
It’s also important for an entrepreneur to use their elevator pitch to show the value of their team and any key partners they are working with. So, by all means, blow your trumpet, but make sure it’s not all about you.
Similarly, investors don’t want to hear your entire life story. Elevator pitches are supposed to be short and sweet, designed to rapidly capture investor attention and leave them wanting to find out more.
So don’t use your valuable opportunity to waffle on, veer off-topic, or take the focus off the pitch. There will be plenty of time for further detail if your investor wants to take things to the next stage.
If you give everything away now, or waste time talking about irrelevancies, your pitch won’t be effective, and you might not make it to the next step.
Finally, how are you going to end your elevator pitch? There is nothing more disappointing than a bad ending, whether you’re listening to a new album from your favourite band, reading the latest novel from a best-selling author, or watching a new Netflix series. We’ve all experienced that kind of let-down.
Your elevator pitch is no exception. Pitches need strong endings, so take this opportunity to turn the end of your pitch into a strong call-to-action.
Put something on the table to capture the attention of the investor, perhaps an enticing exit strategy or incentive to invest, and give them the powerful ending that they’re looking for.
No matter how good your overall value proposition is, a bad elevator pitch can completely sabotage your efforts, ensuring that investors want nothing to do with you.
By staying away from NDAs, jargon and me-me-me life stories, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of getting some investors interested — just make sure you have a strong ending ready to convert their interest into investment.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He isn’t the best public speaker, so he doesn’t envy pitchers. Visit the site here for some actionable business tips, and consider following along on Twitter @myecommercetips.