In asking for a re-up, co-investment or direct investment, most people present the attributes of the given situation, frame the return profile and inquire about one’s interest level.
This is a really bad idea. There are four reasons why:
- There is nowhere to go from there. “Oh, you aren’t interested, well how about now?”
- The relationship has yet to be (or has never been) re-activated (activated).
- You haven’t optimized the number of people exposed to the ask.
- There is no opportunity to be strategic.
Every good salesperson knows to never ask for the order until you have minimized the risks of hearing “no” – obviously, to the extent possible. When the sales process is complex and the numbers are large, you can never entirely eliminate this risk. Nevertheless, in our world, the number of times people send out a cold email asking if someone is interested in investing in something is astonishing. And I am going to pause and stare straight at all you real estate people for a moment.
After you ask for an order, in sales, there really is nowhere to go. If you re-approach, you come across as greasy. Asking for an order prematurely is one of the most common mistakes salespeople make. The impact of this mistake compounds if the product you are selling is complex. And as it pertains to a re-up, co-investment and/or direct investment, things are typically complex.
Next, it is critical for everyone to understand that prospective investors don’t live their lives thinking about your latest opportunity. Put it another way, what do you think someone is going to say if you ask them to make a $10 million dollar decision without any advanced notice. Uh… no!
It is important to confirm you are top of mind and to ensure the prospect sees the ask on the horizon. If not, the answer will likely be, “no.”
When attempting to close an investment, it’s also just common sense to assess the interest of as many prospects as possible. Naturally, the likelihood of accomplishing what you have set out to accomplish goes up dramatically. Therefore, before you actually ask for an order, best spend a significant amount of time qualifying interest.
Finally, if you come straight out with an ask, there is no opportunity to make strategic decisions that can influence the outcome. For example, you behave massively differently if you have a thousand expressions of interest versus ten. Always, always, always pool interest two or three times before making an ask. This allows you to determine how aggressively you should negotiate and how best to manage any market perceptions around failure or success, both of which are hugely important. It is also the best way to create fear of loss.
If you were just about to press send on an email asking a prospective investor for a re-up, co-investment, or direct investment, try the approach below instead.
Remind people that you are good at what you do. Over the last 12 months we have accomplished X, Y and Z. Again, you aren’t trying to “sell” anything. At this stage, you are simply trying to understand who is engaged and who is not engaged.
Comment on current events, and how it pertains to your world/opportunity. People don’t make decisions in bubbles. Inflation, the environment, war, elections, etc. all influence how people act. Again, your goal is to simply re-activate the relationship and qualify interest.
There will be a good number of people that haven’t engaged. Build an email specific to these people in an effort to pull them into the process. “Jim, I noticed that you haven’t picked up our recent emails. I am not a big fan of general emails as well. I thought to reach out to you directly because you are important to our firm. It would be great to catch-up. How do you look for a call next week?“
People hate feeling like they are being marketed to en masse. Use that to your advantage. Additionally, your goal is to qualify as many people as possible.
We are hosting a webinar to talk about current events and upcoming opportunities. Nothing re-affirms why someone should trust you with capital more than hearing from you directly.
Hit someone with the first “opportunity alert.” Are you interested in receiving a summary of our upcoming opportunity (whatever that may be). And you don’t want to push anyone beyond this simple expression of interest. Here, your only aspiration is to pool interest and assess market demand. Everything above has led to this point. If there is very little interest, don’t try to convert. More likely than not, you will fail.
Determine whether or not someone wants detailed information. This can come in many forms, a comprehensive marketing deck/pitch deck being the best example. And, again, don’t push any individual entity or prospect beyond this point. You want to pool interest here to assess the likelihood of success and whether or not any adjustments can be made to improve your position.
Provide access to your data-room. Ensure this data room is exceptionally well laid out, easy to navigate, and branded. (Nothing influences a decision more than a well-structured and organized data-room. Marketing at this level is often overlooked. A data-room is not just about the the presentation of information, it is a reflection on how you conduct business.)
After this, there is nothing more to do than ask if they would like to receive final documentation. I can assure you, if you have taken the approach above, the plight to secure a re-up, secure a co-investment, or fund a direct investment will improve. Sure, timing is always a consideration, yet, more often than not, you have more time than you realize. Additionally, you can always abbreviate the approach to accommodate. My point, be thoughtful and never hit people with an ask they are not prepared to receive.