How to pitch an investor in private equity
October 10, 2022
How to pitch investors:
What is the best private equity pitch you’ve seen?
That’s the question I posed to various panels at SuperInvestor, the annual conference for private equity investors.
I asked eight LPs to share with us a great private equity investor pitch they remember – teams that did something remarkable that grabbed their attention. We wanted to learn how to pitch investors successfully.
On one panel were private equity investors Catherine Lewis La Torre, Anna Dayn, Spencer Miller and Marc der Kinderen. On the other panel were private equity fund managers Will Poole of Capria, Guarau Ahuja of ChrysCapital and Alexandre Alfonsi of Axonia Partners. Between them, these experts review 400+ private equity investor pitches every year and they’ve seen them all – the good, the great, the bad and the ugly.
By the way, of the 400 pitches they see, they eventually invest in only 10.
Whether you are pitching to private equity investors, or you are a private equity firm pitching to LPs, this advice will help you be more successful.
Pitching an investor is a real skill. And it’s a skill you can improve. Over the last 15 years we’ve coached hundreds of firms and PE funds to be brilliant at pitching private equity investors.
Do please call us and we’ll discuss how we can help you with your private equity pitch.
How to pitch an investor in private equity – top suggestions
- Stand out from the crowd in your private equity pitch
- Be a very clear communicator
- Research each LP (investor) you meet
- Show how your team delivers extra returns
- Listen more than you talk when you pitch investors
- Create an investor pitch that is different
- Tailor your pitch to each investor
- Demonstrate your passion
- Show, don’t just tell
How to pitch to private equity investors
Top tips on how you can pitch to private equity for success
Private Equity Fundraising Tip #1 – Stand out from the crowd
LPs see hundreds of funds for each one they invest in. Your first challenge is to rise above everyone else who is competing for attention, so you become the 1% that they remember and talk about. In short, it’s all about seeing things from the LP’s point of view. By keeping your LP at the centre of everything you say and do, you’ll stand out in his or her mind as being more engaging, memorable and investor-ready.
How To Pitch an Investor Tip #2 – Communicate Clearly
Are your marketing materials too complicated? They may make sense to you, but if they are hard for an LP to understand then you’re unlikely to secure investment.
Successful funds have clear, concise and consistent communications. Consider your messages about your fund, your marketing materials (including your Private Equity Fund’s Pitch Book) and your follow-up communications: they should all be as easy to read and understand as a newspaper.
Potential investors will quickly see what makes your fund different. Then you can have a proper discussion with that investor to determine whether what you are offering best fits their investment needs.
Private equity fundraising Tip | 3. Research each LP
One of the repeating themes from the LPs at SuperReturn was that trust is built during communication outside of fundraising periods.
You need to be researching your LPs, tracking their investment mandates and learning about their investment goals over time.
Keep talking to them. Then, when you’re fundraising, you can tailor your pitch to the LPs you’re targeting.
Private equity fundraising Tip | 4. Show how your team delivers returns
Every fund forecasts promising returns. Top funds demonstrate what their team does differently to drive above-average performance.
What is your team’s background? Why does that give your fund a unique advantage?
It’s not enough to have a blue-chip experienced team: you need to link your team’s experience to those great returns you’re forecasting.
Private equity fundraising tip | 5. Listen more than you talk
Lastly, are your fundraising pitches one-way broadcasts or two-way conversations?
Top funds listen to LPs, aiming to understand, not just respond. They ask follow-up questions to check their understanding and have high levels of emotional intelligence. They detect verbal and non-verbal cues to pick up what is and what isn’t being said.
Lastly, they handle tough investor questions without becoming defensive.
How to pitch an investor | 6. Create a pitch that’s different
Anna Dayn recalled a pitch last year at SuperInvestor’s famous Quick Fire Showcase, where funds have just 90 seconds to pitch to a room of LPs. She told us about a pitch she heard in the form of a rap routine. Within 90 seconds, his rap managed to fit in all the fund highlights in a creative and memorable fashion.
What can you do to make your pitch memorable? A Rap routine may not be right for you, but can you make your investment story, your materials and how to approach the investor meeting stand out? When we work with funds and with companies, we aim to create unique, compelling investment presentations that stand out from the crowd.
How to pitch an investor tip | 7. Tailor your pitch to each investor
Spencer Miller reminded us how important it is to customise your pitch for each organisation you speak to. “Know who you’re meeting,” he said. “Have an idea of what they are interested in.” You won’t always be guided by the LP. So focusing your pitch on exactly what the investor wants “makes it much more useful, and helps build the relationship.”
How do you do this? Research is important. And the questions you ask in the meeting with the private equity investor are key. When role playing private equity pitch meetings with our clients, we make sure the investor will come away feeling good about the meeting.
How to pitch an investor tip | 8. Demonstrate passion
“It’s fair to say that we see a lot of things that look more or less the same,” said Catherine Lewis La Torre.
“One that did stand out for me was a German GP. When they went through their portfolio they got products out and started talking about them. They were so animated and passionate that they really conveyed how much they knew about the businesses and how they would be generating value. They just loved that business. And that came across.”
How to pitch an investor | 9. Show, don’t just tell
“It gets us excited when we can get closer to the companies,” said Marc der Kinderen. “We once had a team came in who brought one of their CEOs. He happened to be in NY, and they let him speak to us. He explained how they got started, what they were doing, how the PE firm helped, how often they spoke. That made it come alive.”
How can you show how great you are?
Professional support to increase your chance of success
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help you improve your private equity investor presentations. You benefit from our knowledge of private equity investing and get executive coaching, pitch polishing and intensive role-play. We support pitches and presentations of both funds and portfolio companies, maximising your chances of securing investment.
To improve your pitch to investors, call Louise Angus, Client Services Director on +44 20 7018 0922 or email email@example.com.
We’ll transform your investor pitch so it’s confident, memorable and effective.
What are the investor pitching mistakes most commonly made?
I also asked the fundraising panel which investor pitching mistakes they regularly see.
Learn from these mistakes to learn how to pitch an investor and increase your chance of securing investment.
Four investor pitching mistakes to avoid
Private equity pitching mistake 1: Defensive or aggressive responses
The job of investors is to ask questions and be critical. Investors need to be sure they have accurate information so they can come to a good decision. Yet, rather than responding politely, Marc der Kinderen often finds that the fund manager takes things personally.
He said, “We are looking for people we can team up with for a decade. The moment we find people who are aggressive and defensive about their history – if we can’t ask questions – then due diligence stops.”
How to pitch an investor mistake 2: Deferring answers to later on in the presentation
Although you may have prepared a standard pitch, remember that every investor is different. Refusing to tailor your pitch or answer a question straight away shows an attitude of indifference towards your audience. Catherine Lewis La Torre said, “I find it frustrating when I ask a question and the fund manager says, ‘I’m coming to that, it’s on page 20 of the presentation’. Often the question never gets addressed.”
Private equity pitching mistake 3: Lack of team dynamic
If the members of a pitching team contradict, interrupt or ignore each other, you put the stability and strength of the team in doubt. Spencer Miller said, “It’s my number one test: how do they interact with each other? Is it a partnership, or is it individuals?”
Investor pitching mistake 4: Lack of respect for the investors’ time
Showing up late or rescheduling at the last minute gives an impression of disorganisation as well as a lack of respect for the LP. Anna Dayn said, “Some managers have an incorrect assumption that we have limitless time for them.”
Learn how to create a great equity story for your pitch.
Professional support to give you the best chance of success
Benjamin Ball Associates can help you avoid these and many other common mistakes. Let us help you learn best how to pitch an investor and prepare you for investor presentations. We can polish your private equity pitch and we can help you role play investor meetings.
We support the pitches and presentations of both funds and portfolio companies, maximising your chances of securing investment.
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Start improving today
If you want to improve how you pitch an investor call Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll help you your pitch confident, memorable and effective.
Video: How Private Equity Funds can pitch, present and persuade more effectively
Paul Farrow is a Partner at Benjamin Ball Associates. In this video from SuperReturn US East, Paul discusses the common mistakes made by Private Equity funds when communicating with potential investors. He reveals the unexpected personality trait that investors look for in fund managers, and why LPs don’t want to ‘be taken through your pitch presentation’. He shares essential advice that will improve your fund’s messaging, help you stand out and impress prospective investors.
About Benjamin Ball Associates
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.
Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email email@example.com to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.
Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.
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