Investor meetings are difficult enough because you need to tell your story, what makes you unique, and why you are the right company for them to invest. In reality, though, the most difficult and important part is building the necessary rapport with the investors.
Investors need to see a potential business relationship that they can develop. Do you have goals, values, beliefs, and drivers that align? How do you know what those are for your investors? How do you connect in this way?
It is not easy. It is one of the reasons our executive communication coaches are brought in to help. It goes beyond process and structure into the psychology of communication and how to apply it. There are three steps you can take to better position yourself to build rapport quickly with investors.
Spend time building a reliable profile of your listeners.
It is important before you get to an investor meeting – in fact, before you practice for your investor meeting – to sit down as a team and understand who your potential investors are. You should have answers to questions like:
- What is their reason for investing in the type of research you are proposing?
- What are their titles and functions in investing?
- How do they like to hear information?
- What is important to them?
- What do you know personally about them?
Answering these questions gives you a good profile of who you will be speaking. If you don’t know all of the answers for sure, it is important at this level of understanding to make the best-educated guess you can. You want to have a plan for how you are going to attempt to build rapport. Without it, you are just hoping for the best.
Move from thinking about what you’re saying to how you’re saying it.
As you practice your presentation as a team, you should spend enough time on it that you all feel comfortable with the content. You should practice it enough to be able to say that you know the material inside out. To create rapport with the investors, you need to be able to move beyond what you’re saying and focus on how you are saying it. When you can spend time looking at the non-verbal reactions to your presentation, you can customize what you are saying to the people in the room. That is important to building rapport. When they feel you are presenting just for them, they believe you care about them, their wants, and their goals. Rapport goes a long way to improving your chances of receiving the funding you need. So, focus on how you are saying what you are saying.
Ask questions in the meeting.
When I say ask questions, I don’t mean “Ask them if they understand.” What I mean is, when appropriate, probe the investors for personal/professional information that helps you to understand them better. Ask them how they got to where they are, why they left the technical field they were in, etc. Then listen. The point is to get them talking and then LISTEN to them to find information that you can use to improve rapport. Having a common background, experiences, and thoughts about the weather can improve the opinion investors have about you.
These three steps are crucial to building rapport early with potential investors. Incorporate them into your practice and planning so that you can execute them when it comes time to deliver.