How To Pitch Investors | 10 Top Presentation Tips
March 14, 2023
When you pitch investors, you want to be successful. But how do you pitch to investors successfully? What’s behind a great investor pitch?
Whether you are pitching your business to a trade buyer or you are raising money from an external investor, you need to be compelling when you pitch to investors. Hence these presentation tips.
How to Pitch Investors – Top 10 Tips
Let’s review these essential investor pitch tips in turn. But first….
What is an investor pitch?
An investor pitch is more than the pitch deck.
When we say ‘investor pitch’ we mean the investor story, the pitch deck and how the team comes across in investor pitch meetings – the whole package. Every element needs to be right.
1. What’s special about your investment opportunity?
You need to explain what’s different and specific about your opportunity when pitching to investors. What do I mean by this?
For example: Imagine you have invented an improved mouse trap. What is it about your mouse trap business that makes it special?
- Is it cheaper?
- Does it capture mice unharmed?
- Does it catch more mice?
- Is it more reliable?
- Are you selling a service rather than a product?
All of these may be true, but to explain your idea – and get the investors you want – you need to be clear about the one big idea that makes your pitch special.
For example, recently we helped a large SaaS business that provides services to banks. They save banks money, save time, and are highly scalable. All of these are relevant problems for banks. But we worked out with our client that their service gave a bank a competitive advantage. This was because the service also created a much, much better customer experience. And this was the “killer” difference, not those other benefits.
To transform your investor pitch, make sure you have uncovered what makes your idea really special. If you have not yet worked out the one brilliant idea underpinning your pitch, speak to our team and ask about our Cracker Programme that will uncover it for you.
2. Why is your idea right for that investor?
The second big thing to get right when you pitch investors is knowing why an investor should be interested. You may think an investor wants to make money. But making money is often not enough. After all, there are many ways to make money.
Instead, you want to uncover what else your investor is looking for. For example, What is their risk appetite? How important are ESG concerns to them? Does this investment confer some sort of status by association with other investors?
Because every investor is different, there is no single, cookie-cutter approach to this. So you need to run your investor pitch meetings in a way that you can discover what your investor is really looking for. And when you understand your investor’s motivation, you’ll find it much easier to persuade them because you will be talking to their concerns.
3. Are you hiding behind PowerPoint when you pitch investors?
The third thing to get right when you pitch investors is to forget about “giving a PowerPoint presentation”. If you want to start a two, three or five year plus investor relationship, you are not going to achieve that by hiding behind PowerPoint.
Instead, plan your pitch meeting as a meeting of minds. Aim to make your investor feel really comfortable with you – make them so comfortable that they want to meet you again, and again, and again! How do you do that? While you are meeting, share stories about your business; discuss what works and what’s still to do; help them better understand you and your plans. Like this, you build trust and understanding during your pitch meeting. And these are the foundations for any lasting relationship.
4. Is your investor pitch simple enough?
If your pitch to investors is easy to explain, it’s also easy to remember. But creating a simple investor pitch is hard. One challenge when raising money is to strip back your investment pitch to its bare essentials. If you are too complex you become forgettable.
For example, you should make the abstract concrete. You can do this with metaphor, analogies and clear examples. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod he talked about “1,000 songs in your pocket”. That was concrete. No MB, no Hz, no bit rates, no hard drives. You can do the same – even with the most obscure complicated hedge fund strategy.
5. Do you demonstrate credibility when you pitch to investors?
If your business plan has you with ‘just’ a 5% share of a $50bn market in 5 years, you’ll lack credibility. Help us believe. Show (don’t tell) what you have done, what you are doing and what you will do so that we can all have faith in you. This rule also applies to your pitch book: everything you say must be credible and push your story forward.
6. Do you harness emotions in your investor pitch?
In the logical investment world, it’s easy to forget the critical role that emotions play when making decisions. If their gut says yes, then your investor may well take a second look, even if uncertainties remain. How do you harness emotions in your investor pitch? You can use stories, appeals to greater things and make it personal. For example: do you offer investment returns, or do you offer security in retirement.
7. Do you use enough stories when pitching to investors?
Facts get forgotten; stories get repeated. Turn your pitch into a story. Tell stories within your pitch. Get away from the dull “deep” dive into detail on every page and instead help us understand the big picture. Then you can fill in the details where we need them.
When you use stories in your investor pitch, you can bring to life complex, hard-to-grasp ideas. Stories help investors understand and stories make it easier for others to talk about you. Uncover your stories an learn how to use stories in your investor pitch.
8. Is your investment pitch memorable?
It’s a real challenge to make a memorable investor pitch. Investors have more investment opportunities than ever. So, if you are pitching to investors, it’s much harder to stand out.
An essential strategy you want to deploy when pitching investors is to be more memorable. If you have a memorable investor pitch you increase your chances of progressing beyond “just a first meeting”.
Much of the work we do at BBA is to help funds and businesses craft their investment propositions so that they are memorable and therefore more investable. For example, one technique is DON’T BE BORING. If your pitch sounds just like everyone else’s, you’ll be forgotten quickly. Instead, intrigue us and appeal to our natural curiosity. Is there something counter-intuitive about your approach? Get investors thinking (but not too hard) and they are more likely to remember you.
9. Is your investor the centre of attention in your investor pitch?
When you pitch for investment, what role do you take? And what role does your investor take? Get this right in your investment pitch, and you have a much better chance of success.
Shakespeare wrote that “all the world’s a stage”, and on that stage, you want your investor, not you, to take the starring role. Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the most common complaints we hear from investors is that those pitching haven’t tailored what they’re saying to the people in the room. Typically, investors don’t want to be ‘taken through’ a generic presentation. Your pitch should be tailored. For example, you can ask investors what they’d like to focus on, then focus your presentation around that.
However, the most effective pitches go one step further. These pitches are based on extensive research about the people on the other side of the table:
- What are their investment goals?
- What are their backgrounds?
- Why might they want to buy into your investment?
If your entire investor pitch is oriented around these questions, you’ll have a much greater chance of success.
How do you achieve this? One powerful techniques is to ask questions. For example:
- ‘Have you seen this before?’
- ‘Does that make sense?’
- ‘What are your thoughts on what we’ve shown you so far?’
Of course, adapting your pitch on the fly is not as easy as performing a pre-prepared monologue. It requires that you know your material inside-out. It demands additional preparation and rehearsal. You’ll need a coach to help you get there.
10. Avoid the mistakes others make when pitching to investors
Good news: because people have been pitching to investors for hundreds of years, the biggest investor pitch mistakes are well known. These are some of the biggest mistakes we regularly see in investor pitches.
Top mistakes when you pitch investors
- Your story is too complicated
- You undersell yourself
- You are not transparent about challenges
- Your future journey is unclear
- You do not come across as professional enough
- You are not speaking investor language
- You are selling too hard
- Something feels wrong
1. Is your story too complicated when you pitch investors?
If your business sounds complicated, it will also sound difficult, risky and unattractive. As the CEO of a business, you probably suffer from the curse of knowledge. You know so much about your firm that it’s often hard to put yourself in an investor’s shoes.
What an investor wants is a clear, simple story to share with other people. Your job is to simplify that story so that a potential buyer has a clear picture of the investment you are offering.
It is very tempting to include more information in your management presentation or your investor pitch, but the more you include the more diluted the important information becomes. A weak investor pitch includes extensive information but fails to shape that information into a compelling story.
Simplifying is often the hardest part of creating a powerful investor presentation. So the best firms use external advisors to simplify their investment story.
2. Are you underselling yourself in your investor pitch?
You are successful; there is a reason for that.
You have loyal customers; there is a reason for that.
You attract and maintain great talent; there is a reason for that too.
But do you talk about these things in an easy-to-understand way?
Too many firms are happy to lay out data and information, then fail to tell the compelling story behind the data. But investors don’t buy data. They buy the story, the potential, the thing that makes you different and successful.
You want to get your buyer to not just hear your impressive story but also to feel it and believe in it. When they believe in you, they are more likely to invest in you.
3. Are you transparent about the challenges you face?
Every business has difficulties – big and small.
It’s always tempting to play down your problems. But by downplaying them, it may feel to a buyer that you don’t fully understand your business. Worst of all, if you don’t mention challenges and these crop up later in the sale process, it may look like you are being dishonest.
So, be open about what problems your company is facing, and talk about how you’re addressing them. If it’s clear that you are good at thinking about the future and planning for uncertainty, you add credibility.
By being open, you can turn your weaknesses into strengths.
4. Is your future journey clear enough?
It’s easy to talk about what you have done. But the value of your firm to a potential investor or buyer lies not in the past but in the future. It helps when you can share a clear vision for what comes next.
Are you facing uncertainties? You can describe this as giving you options. Are you addressing change in your market? You can show how you can adapt to those changes. Have things gone wrong? You can show how resilient you are.
What is important when you pitch investors is that you demonstrate that you know how to continue growing and improving your business.
Your future story should make up most of your investor story. The clearer that future feels to an investor, the more value they will place on you today.
5. Do you look and feel professional enough when pitching to investors?
If you have a high-quality business and an impressive team, you want to be sure your pitch is equally reassuring.
This means more than hiring a good graphic designer. A professional investor pitch involves all elements of your interaction with potential buyers. You want your buyer to see a team and a business that give them a warm, joyous feeling from every contact.
If you achieve this, you can feel more confident about building a long-term positive relationship with that buyer.
6. Do you speak the language of investors when you present to investors?
Many companies talk regularly to customers, but rarely pitch to investors. Customers and investors are different animals and need to be treated in different ways.
And depending on the type of investor or buyer you have, you’ll treat them differently too.
When we prepare management teams to pitch investors, we role play extensively so that the team feels comfortable flexing their style to match different types of investor. And we also help teams avoid the temptation to ‘give a presentation’. A good investment meeting is a 2-way conversation, with as many questions as answers.
Once you practise this, you’ll look impressive and feel so much more confident.
7. Are you pitching or explaining in your investor presentation?
Few of us like being sold to; but we all like learning something.
Too many investor pitches sound like a hard sell, or a 1-way presentation. The best pitches we work on become conversations between a management team who know their stuff and an investor who knows how to invest. Those two groups then work together to find the perfect fit.
What this means in practice is that the pitchers become teachers, helping the investor understand their business. They also demonstrate their curiosity, wanting to know what the investor thinks and how they could work together.
This fresh approach to pitching creates a positive feeling and makes it much easier for the investor to know what it will be like working with this management team.
8. Does something not feel right?
This is probably the main reason that investors don’t invest. ‘It does not feel right.’ It isn’t a perfect excuse – but it sums up years of experience in investing.
What can you do to create a better feeling when pitching to investors?
The most practical way to generate a positive feeling is to practise. That means for every investor meeting, every question, every bit of presentation, you try it and improve it. I don’t mean ‘rehearse’ – that is what actors do when they already have a great script. I mean practise like a tennis player, so you continually build your skills to improve what you say and how you say it. You also polish how you look as a team and improve the impact you make with your investor.
The best management teams always practise.
How to Pitch Investors
Learn what it takes to create a stand out investor pitch when you pitch to investors.
What next for your investor pitch?
Those are the most common mistakes we see with our clients. The good news they are all repairable. We work day in day out helping companies create compelling, persuasive investor presentations.
If you want help to prepare your company to speak to investors, contact Louise Angus, our client services director. She’d be happy to discuss how we might be able to best support you.
How to improve YOUR investor pitch
If your investor pitch needs improving, polishing or completely transforming, give us a call. We’ll be delighted to share with you some ideas that have worked for other firms, from global market leaders to regional start-ups.
We spend every day helping companies perfect their investor presentations. We make it easier for them to convince investors, to win investment and to build loyal shareholders. Speak to our client services director Louise Angus today.
Help me improve my pitch to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.
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