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On Pitching: Don’t Seek Feedback Too Soon

January 19th, 2012

 

Yesterday at the Women Entrepreneur Festival (amazing!!) one of the many valuable discussions was at the investor panel. The panel was made up of female venture capitalists and angel investors. The discussion was about pitching and the natural tendency for women to seek feedback too soon. It applies to anyone involved in selling ideas or consulting as well as entrepreneurs seeking funding.

One panel member observed that the trick with women is that they are good listeners but can do too much listening. They give their pitch and then they want feedback. The guys want to know, “Did you connect with my idea and do you want to invest?” They don’t want feedback. Her point was that investors invest in the people and the idea. You don’t have to listen to everything the potential investor says.

This discussion reminded me of some advice I got from a male entrepreneur and  new business pro. Strikingly similar and adds some additional perspective on when it is okay to ask.

“You are asking for money not a point-of-view. Only care about the feedback if you are in. Then you can talk how to make the idea better and close the deal.

They are buying your idea …not your business plan. You want funding. You make your pitch and then there’s a pass or fail. Now what can you learn to increase conversion?  What was it that tipped the idea into the pass or fail? Find that out. How can you make the idea even more attractive? How can you accelerate the conversion?  What 2 or 3 things can you do in first 6 months to get to market faster?  Asking for advice before you get a pass on your idea doesn’t convey conviction in the idea.

If it’s a fail, then you can ask them to indulge you. What is not working?   Tell me straight up what 2 or 3 things held the idea back? Then accept that. Let them know you respect their professional vision and experience.  If it’s bad news you can still make them feel good that you heard them and keep them talking about you. Send them a gracious thank you note 48 hours later that accurately reflects their advice and that you have taken it to heart. It doesn’t mean that you have to follow it but it shows respect, keeps the door open and can lead to more advice or future interactions.”

Thanks to the women on the panel for all their awesome advice.

INVESTORS PANEL
Shana Fisher, High Line Venture Partners
Sarah Tavel, Bessemer Venture Partners
Joy Marcus, DFJ Gotham Ventures
Nancy Peretsman, Allen & Company
Joanne Wilson, Festival Co-Chair, Gotham Gal
Moderator: Janet Hanson

And thanks to conference chairs Joanne Wilson and Nancy Hechinger for putting together this event – truly a chance to surround yourself with amazing women.


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