Sunday, 26 November 2017

How to Pitch to Investors, Customers and Team Members


Whether you are a kid, a college student, an employee or a CEO of a company, there is one thing we all have in common. What's that?

We all pitch ideas.

1. A kid tries to convince his parents why they should let him play with his friends instead of doing his homework.

2. A college student presents his project in front of his lecturers and classmates in order to convince them of his research and why his ideas are relevant based on research.

3. An employee might be charged with the task for creating an ad campaign for the company and he would have to pitch his ideas to his supervisor or to the CEO directly. He would need to convince the CEO beyond all reasonable doubt, that the ad campaign would work, with numbers to explain the customer acquisition strategy embedded in the campaign.

4. And the all important one, The CEO pitching to investors for equity funding or grants for the businesses.


Makes sense yeah?


Moving on....


As Entrepreneurs that plan to build successful business we must understand that we pitch to 3 classes of peoples and the approach to each of them is inherently different.

1. PITCH TO INVESTORS



We all know that in any business, that "Cash is King". A business must endeavor to be "liquid" to run its operations. Startup business need funding to stay afloat, that is why it is important to know how to approach investors.

From my little experience pitching to investors and listening to experienced African Entrepreneurs like Iyinoluwa Aboyeji  and Strive Masiyiwa .

They argue that Investor Pitching it's more of an art that it is a science. Strive Masiyiwa in the Entrepreneur Town Hall Series in Abuja , said that up till today whenever he sources for funding, his team pitches to nothing less that 100 investors and throughout this course of his career as an Entrepreneur, he has had to raise funding more times that he can count. His advice to startup Entrepreneur is to take time out to analyse how other people pitch and figure out what Investors typically ask for.


See me at the townhall, See how I plan to smile at my bank account when I eventually become like Strive Masiyiwa.


In my own little experience, having pitched to investors twice, there are 5 things I noticed.

A. Your idea must be concise.

You don't want to confuse the investors.  Make it as simple as possible.


B. Strong brand story

The investors want to know why this business is so important to you. If it is important for you, It would be important for them. It is a strong indicator that you wouldn't get their money and invest it in landed property.


C. Your Team

This is vital for Startups. The team working on your business almost always has to be topnotch especially to raise funds on international competitions, the strength of your team and their abilities gives the investors confidence that they are backing the right people for the job.


D. Understanding of the Market

You must have a in-depth of your market and be able to iterate clearly how you plan to access the market with a plan that shows the least possible resistance as well as the highest possible growth within your niche.

E. Confidence

From my experience and from watching a lot of "pitching" videos, the people that often win might not have the greatest ideas but they had the confidence as well as a good grasp of story telling that reeled the investors in. This is the most important bit, in my opinion, because it is only developed through experience. It is said, "Practice makes perfect". I am not saying you have to attend a 100 pitches to learn how to pitch properly.You can watch pitching competitions and leverage on the experiences of the "pitchers" to be a great "pitcher" yourself


2. PITCH TO TEAM MEMBERS



As an Entrepreneur, it is really vital that you build the best possible team starting out. Here are tips that would help you reel in the best of talents to your side of the court.

a. Great Talents would go where they see value.

They must believe that you have already come a "substantial" way yourself before they get involved.


b. They must feel that the company has that capacity to grow

Hardly anyone doesn't want a 6-figure cheque. They might start out with you in your garage, but they don't want to be in that same garage with you 6 years after. The strength of your brand story and your personal character is what your initial team members count on to work with you. They count on your strong brand story and your personal character to assess if that idea or startup company would grow exponentially with their support.


c. Renumeration

Dispel that myth that you are the all and all of your business. No one would leave a "possibly" higher paying gig to collect a stipend from you whilst you give yourself a chunk of a salary budget because you are "THE CEO".

 "If you're not lucky, soon enough you would be taking on all the roles, because all your staff would've left." 

You need to be ready to relinquish shares and treat and pay everyone equitably for their efforts towards the growth of the company. This is the way to grow a great business. Don't take my word for it, after all, I just launched my Startup Company this year. But know this!. There's a reason why most Nigerian albeit African Businesses don't outlive their CEO's and there is a reason why International Companies have lasted over decades. The reason is because there's that component that we are all in this together. Pay your team well and give them shares in the company. Your gain is their gain!


3. PITCH TO CUSTOMERS



I left this last because it is evidently the most important pitch you would ever have to make and most probably the most frequent. As a Startup the most important part of remaining in business is customer acquisition (in less technical terms, you need to get customers to remain in business)

It is a "No brainer" right?

There are three stages of customer acquistion



a. Awareness (Lead Generation)

Your customers must first of all know that your business exists. They might need your service or product, but if they never see it, they would never buy. Simple!. You must create distribution strategies that ensure that people know about your business, especially your target market (customers).

b. Interest (Lead Nurture)

You need to study your target customers, know their spending culture, their geographical location etc so that you can create a product or service that would suit them. You should be able to create a value propostion that the customers would relate with and grow their interest in whatever it is you're selling. 

In simple words, your strategy must create a compelling effect on the customer for them to want to know more about your product and probably make the purchase.

3. Purchase (Sales)

Your customers after displaying interest in your product must also be able to readily access your product or service and purchasing it at the "stipulated cost" because of the perceived value which they must place higher than the cost.

"There is a reason why people pay higher for Mercedes than they do Toyota. They feel they get something extra even though they are both cars, even though, the Mercedes can't fly and go on water."


I would add another stage,



Why? Just because I feel like it!

4. Returning Purchase (Loyalty)

People can purchase your product/service the first time and realize either that your product/service is not worth the amount they spent on it or there is a better alternative in the market. The most important KPI (Key Performance Indicator) of Growth is returning customers. How many people pay the first time and continuously keep paying for your service or product. That is indeed what they call, "Customer Loyalty".



PS: As an Entrepreneur you need to always take time to relax your nerves. Anytime you visit Abuja, Nigeria you should drop by Jabi Boat Club. 





Address: Nera Hotel, Alex Ekwueme Way (Before Jabi Lake Park)



I can't kill myself, after a day's work on Friday, I went to spend time with a "friend" and I got the idea for this post while I was half way through my "Tequila Sunrise".





I hope you understand,

Best regards,
Ejieji Muna
(HubbonNG)


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