Two ears, one mouth, and a checklist – Selling your business idea to the world

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(This is a guest post from Charles Legrand, a member of Μetavallon experts’ network).

 What do you need to do to sell your idea? To convince people and get their buy-in? To get them involved and invested?

There is certainly a number of pieces in that particular jigsaw. So where do you begin – and what do you need to be aware of before you start?

Advice essentials for startups: Get in the right mindset

Before you set off to conquer minds and hearts, make sure you get in the appropriate startup mindset. Here are the five I believe are core:

  • Be inquisitive – Look for your market, knowing that you will fail in some and succeed in others. Where you fail, go meet with the customers and investors seeking their feedback and make ‘‘course corrections’’ with the feedback.

  • Be receptive – Respect and make sure you understand feedback: Good, Bad or Ugly. Use what you need and keep what you do not in ‘‘your back pocket’’.

  • Involve your investors and partners as much as possible. Keeping them informed will build bridges. They will appreciate the involvement and remember they not only pay the bills or facilitate, they are at the heart of this. The more they buy in, the better for you – you get stability to work and ‘‘sell the idea’’.

  • Listen more than you speak = We have Two ears and One mouth and we should use them in proportion. This hint works well in all aspects – especially when you are selling.

  • Be relentless – Stay the course, believe in the idea that will become a product, service or a way to do business.

Use this checklist. Trust your instincts

Now let us concentrate on how to “sell’’. The truth is that, when we are “on the battlefield’’, i.e. going around to investors, giving a presentation, trying to sell the idea – we all tend to go off on a tangent, carried away by our own thoughts and becoming irrelevant. I have done it, and I am sure you will be nodding your head as you are reading this. So here is my checklist of points on what I consider I absolutely need to keep in mind and be doing when selling my idea.

  • First, ask yourself: Where am I going today, who am I presenting to? How many people will I have to present to?

  • Find out the roles before you go, using contacts if possible: Who will be a Gatekeeper, Who will be an Affiliate, Who writes the Cheques, Who will be the Technical person and so on.

  • If your team consists of a lot of people – don’t take them all with you at the presentation. Less is more. Take exactly who you need, who can field questions and who will ‘‘drive’’ your side of the meeting.

  • Do one or two role plays with your team and colleagues. Do not disrespect the client by trying to ‘‘fly by the seat of your pants’’.

  • Arrive early – set up and walk around the room – make yourself familiar with the surroundings. They are your surroundings for the next few hours ‘‘always go out to present / sell as if you are playing at home’’ to use a sporting analogy.

  • Respect time – Be on time arrive early, leave time for a Q & A and allow the people you are presenting the slot to ask questions. Do not overstay your welcome and talk just for the sake of talking.

  • Be aware of the people you are presenting to – by that I mean play to your entire audience. Don’t concentrate on presenting to the people who will write the cheques, so to speak – anyone in the room can and will be an influencer or decision-maker.

  • Be certain of what you are presenting – know what is on your slides – know what to say and keep it simple. Most of the Selling will be done by the client in the Q&A. I repeat the Client will sell the product – make sure you invest in the Q&A.

  • Look at your audience with belief and confidence when you are speaking to them – and involve all of them, not just the ‘‘seniors’’. When there is a pause or silence – ‘‘stay silent’’. Silence is powerful. They will convince themselves.

  • Remember: We have Two ears, One mouth = You will hear what they want to find out and you will then be able to have a discussion. That is the ‘‘goal’’: to have a discussion – and learn all that can help you “make the sale”.

Last but not least: Follow up promptly through email and/or a phone call (if appropriate) – promptly meaning within 24-48 hours. Include a summary of your main points, be brief and concise, be courteous and personal, include any material such as copies of the presentation or other data requested – and, absolutely, conclude with next action steps.

The sell is with the brave and the prepared.

Αbout the author: Charles Legrand has extensive international banking experience having worked in numerous countries, predominately across Europe, Africa, India and Asia. Αfter working with Citibank for sixteen years he joined Swift where he managed the UK Ireland and Nordics, ME & India and South Asia – three challenging regions. His main focus was the commercial activity, planning, P&L and being part of the respective senior management teams. He is the founder of CN L & Associates specialising in planning, crafting and delivering Banking courses. His focus is building platforms concentrating on Relationship Management and Cash Management from his base in Athens Greece. Charles moved into his current role in January 2011.


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