Do's and Don'ts of Pitching to Family Offices
Dealing with new clients, especially Family Offices, can be a daunting task for even the most experienced individuals on the business world.
Pitching a project that you may have you enthralled, then receiving emotionless or less-than-enthusiastic reactions, can be quite a difficult and nerve-wrecking experience. Therefore, it is important to always be prepared, and why private equity and merchant banking tycoon Ardy Khavari says he has developed a sort of recipe for ensuring success when interacting specifically with Family Offices.
According to Mr. Khavari, his recipe for success includes avoiding the following:
1. Pitching without a strategy. Many times, I have seen Directors and CEOs spewing numbers and projections, without having any real strategy for moving forward.
For example, entrepreneurs will claim certain numbers, such as profit, sales amounts, new clients, etc. but lack the means to live up to such aspirations.
In my opinion, this can damage the relationship with potential clients, as if you do not then live up to your promises, you will ultimately lose credibility. While there is no need for your projections to be 100% accurate, one should still have a solid idea of their end goal, and the means needed to reach those goals realistically.
2. Dishonesty and exaggeration of financials.
Although this seems like common sense, it is something I still see often. Sometimes the case may be that the individual presenting is not too familiar with all aspects of finance – which, frankly, is still unacceptable, as it means they were not fully prepared before making their pitch. However, there are also instances where numbers are pumped up and financials are inflated, with the intention of misleading or manipulating potential clients.
This is why I always make it a point to ask as many questions as possible, so that I am 100% certain that I completely understand everything regarding the numbers and what they actually mean.
Ideally, you want to be concise, to the point, and easy to understand. Should you not know the answer to a question, male sure to find someone who does and learn from them.
3. Predicting exponential growth with no proof to back up claims.
If you come to me with a company that has historically maintained a growth rate of 50-60% year-over-year, and tell me that this year, for whatever reason, they will grow 250%, that is a substantial difference that would immediately have me quite skeptical. While there is some possibility that such growth could in fact occur, the likelihood is very low from my experience.
Without strong evidence and solid numbers to back up the claims, I would be hard-pressed to believe such a statement, and would definitely take the time to conduct in-depth research of my own.
4. Acting as though you have no competition.
Anyone claiming that they are the only show in the town, is either ignorant or quite naïve.
Every business has its competitors and it is fundamental that directors know exactly who and what their competition is. Whether it be changing a product, updating the method of delivery for clients, competing for customers in a similar industry, other companies are out there pushing their products forward as well. Chances are there is at least one – if not several – companies that have the same products and/or services as you.
This means direct competition. As an entrepreneur, if one believes there is no competition, then they are either over-confident or negligent of other companies and individuals within their own industry.
5. Boasting a flawless management team.
It is important to always keep an eye out for any weaknesses or points of improvement within your company. There are times where you will have to identify areas of improvement, which can mean re-assembling or upgrading your team.
When investors inquire as to the strength of the team members or any changes that could be made, it can often be best to let them know that perhaps some members will be let go and others hired, for the sake of progress and improvement.
6. Only highlighting positive points.
A company that is already perfect, obviously does not need me. They are already perfect and have everything they need - so why would they be pitching to me? Why would they not simply conduct a debt round, and avoid any dilution or outside help? A better approach is to inform me of what you are seeking in a Family Office, and how this Family Office can assist your business today, tomorrow, and beyond.
7. Getting stuck on problems.
All businesses experience issues at some point, and although it is important to acknowledge and resolve these issues, I do not recommend getting stuck on dwelling on problems. An issue arising presents a chance to show your efficiency in dealing with unforeseen circumstances and problems and will only prepare you for more efficiently resolving any future mishaps.
Every investor loves to see that you are capable of resolving issues without losing track of your objectives and giving up.
8. Directly reading off your slides.
Deciding to simply read directly off your slides word-for-word defeats the entire purpose of having a meeting. At that point, it would make more sense to just email your slides, have the investors review them, and get back to you with their thoughts.
Always keep in mind that slides are nothing more than prompts, to guide your presentation and better organize your points.
9. Only caring about money.
Only speaking to me about the money or valuation of a project sends out the wrong message to potential clients.
Even if that is truly all you care about, it is important to have some degree of finesse, and not be so blunt, as you may come across as greedy.
Remember that a Family Office is more than just a one-time client – they are usually in it for the long run, and this entails a much more intimate client relationship.
You’re your criteria for a client clear, and let them know that you are looking to build a mutually beneficial relationship.