How to Schedule and Hold Meetings with Investors?
Meeting with investors can be an anxious moment for any business owner. Whether you are a new business looking for investment or you are obliged to discuss your business strategy with your existing investors, the situation can seem scary and difficult.
If you wish to guarantee your investor meetings are a success, the below tips will help you approach investor meetings from the right angle. You’ll understand 1) the importance of meeting investors, 2) the way to schedule these meetings, and 3) the dos and don’ts of holding investor meetings.
WHY MEET WITH INVESTORS?
The best strategies for scheduling meetings with investors depend on the reasons you have for meeting them in the first place. Investor meetings aren’t alike and you need to have your agenda cleared beforehand.
There are essentially two different stages for meeting investors. These are:
- The first stage – meeting with potential investors
- The second stage – meeting with investors who invested in your business
As you’ll witness in the later sections, the first stage can be a bit more difficult when it comes to scheduling. You aren’t yet in an established relationship with the investor and therefore, a few of them might not be interested in giving you a chance. Essentially the meetings are all about selling your business idea to the investor and to attain them on board with your business venture. You’ll need to prepare well for these meetings, as you are hoping the first meeting you obtain won’t be the last.
The second stage involves meetings, which can have different agendas. You can use the meeting to talk about potential issues relating the business, share strategic information about the business with the investor, and talk about the future direction your business should take. Since the investor is now a member of the business, these investor meetings can occasionally be mandatory board meetings, for instance.
Why are these meetings important?
Scheduling and holding meetings with investors might not sound like a topic worth writing about at first glance. But in fact, investor meetings can be a crucial aspect of business success and you don’t want to consider them as unimportant.
Firstly, the importance of successful first stage meetings is rather obvious. If your business needs financing, being able to schedule and hold meetings with investors can be the difference between a successful and a failing business.
Indeed, meetings at both of the above stages can clarify your business position. You will be able to attract financing, envisage the value of the company in the eyes of the investors and clear hurdles out of the way.
The second stage meetings are also essential in order to prevent problems within the company. Regular meetings with investors can ensure you don’t run into problems too late. Since you now share the ownership of the business, you must consult investors over business decisions. It is often more desirable to discuss these before you finalize your actions, instead of consulting them afterwards.
Furthermore, investor meetings are an important aspect of due diligence during both stages. You are able to share vital and necessary information about the business to potential and existing investors to guarantee transparency.
In essence, investor meetings are an important part of improving your relationship with investors – be it a potential investor or an existing one. These meetings are not just a formal occasion to share business information, but an informal opportunity to build trust. You’ll get to know the investor better, which is a crucial function of a good working relationship.
In addition, these meetings can also act as another networking opportunity. Your investor might be able to, in both stages, introduce you to people who are better suited to aide you in certain occasions.
HOW TO SCHEDULE INVESTOR MEETINGS
Once you understand the importance, as well as the benefits, of organizing successful investor meetings, you’ll be able to prepare your meetings well. The first function of a successful meeting deals with scheduling the meetings.
There’s more to scheduling meetings than picking a date on the calendar. Since the nature of the meetings changes whether you are scheduling a first or second stage meeting, here is a glance at both of them separately.
Scheduling a first stage meeting
Succeeding in scheduling the initial meeting is not an easy task. Professional investors can be a busy lot and they are approached by businesses on a regular basis. In fact, the most successful investors receive a number of pitches a day and knowing the proportion of these investors don’t even read could depress you.
This means cold calling and e-mailing investors can be difficult. But this doesn’t mean that it is impossible; so don’t lose hope. But instead of barging in and asking for money in your first e-mail or phone call, start slowly by building a relationship with the investor.
In fact, start networking with investors as soon as you get into business. Attend events where you can meet investors and generate these essential connections. When you approach an investor to schedule a meeting, the ability to mention how you’ve met at a certain occasion can be a huge advantage.
Don’t be afraid to name drop either. If someone close to the investor told you to contact him or her, mention this! Above all, remember that face-to-face contact often works more effectively than simple e-mails.
The YouTube video below will highlight some channels for getting to know investors before actual meeting:
Once you do get in touch with an investor to schedule a meeting, whether by e-mail or face-to-face, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Assert your point about scheduling the meeting immediately – don’t waste the investor’s time when scheduling. If the investor is already aware of your business, don’t go into too much detail. Simply remind the investor who you are and suggest a further meeting.
When you are scheduling a meeting, never give the impression it is about obtaining an investment! Don’t say, “I thought we could meet to discuss your possible investment”. But rather, “I’d love to meet up and continue our discussion over our business” or “As you are established in the technology sector, it would be great to hear what you think of our new business X”.
- Provide alternative dates and times – For example, instead of asking “Would you like to meet on Thursday at 3pm to discuss further?” you can tell the investor, “I’d be free this Thursday afternoon around 3pm, if you are free or we could chat over lunch on Monday or Tuesday”. If there are dates, you simply can’t catch, clear these in advance and give reasoning for why you are not free. For example, “I’ll be in New York on Monday for the X marketing seminar, but if you are there or in town we could meet. I’ll be back from the event by Tuesday, so are you free for a lunch?”
- Propose a date that is relatively close to present time – You don’t want to propose a vague “Let’s meet next month” for the investor. This compels them to wonder about your motives for the meeting, “Why not now?”
- Always allow the investor to suggest an appropriate alternative – While proposing exact dates and times is crucial, you also want to ensure the investor can give his or her own input, instead of simply picking from a list.
Scheduling a second stage meeting
Scheduling second stage meetings can be a bit more straightforward, since you already have an established working relationship with the investor. Nonetheless, it is still crucial to schedule the meetings with the following guidelines in mind.
First, you must meet with your investor regularly. If they are members of the board, these meetings can, in fact, be mandatory according to the board rules. However, you don’t want to consider these meetings a mandatory evil, as they are a significant aspect of building a solid relationship with the investor and ensuring your business succeeds.
In addition to meeting your investor regularly, make sure you also talk to them on the phone. This is especially important if the investor operates in a different city or region.
Furthermore, if you have a number of investors investing in your company, you want to meet them both in-group, as well as individually. Instead of simply having board meetings or other such events for all investors, ensure you also schedule one-to-one meetings.
Make sure these meetings are organized regularly and both parties agree to the schedule from the get-go.
Second, if you are making changes or scheduling an extra meeting, inform the parties well in advance. Unlike with the first stage meetings, you don’t want to surprise your investors the previous day by calling, “Let’s meet tomorrow at 2pm”. You’d ideally want to give the investor at least a week to schedule and plan the meeting.
Furthermore, try to avoid last minute changes. If something unexpected comes up, always inform the investor immediately and apologize for the situation. You don’t want to cancel without a reason and remember to propose another date and time for the meeting.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF MEETING WITH INVESTORS
Once you have the meeting scheduled, it is time to start thinking the details of the actual meeting. Just as you can’t simply pick up the phone and say, “Hey, let’s meet”, you also can’t just arrive at the meeting and start talking.
So, what does a successful investor meeting look like? The best way to understand it is by focusing on these simple do’s and don’ts of a successful meeting.
Do’s of meetings with investors
Plan your agenda in advance
As mentioned above, you can’t just arrive at your investor meeting and discover what might happen. Whether you are approaching a new investor or dealing with existing investors, your meeting should always have an objective you are trying to achieve.
In the case of the first stage meetings, this could be to start communicating with the investor and to introduce your business to them. Later meetings with potential investors will move on to building this relationship and eventually to ask for investment.
On the second stage, you might want to discuss matters, such as problems in sales figures or consider hiring additional staff. Whatever the issue, you must have it defined beforehand and have a desired outcome in mind.
In both instances, you want to share this objective with the investor prior to the meeting. This can ensure the investor can prepare for the meeting appropriately, to guarantee the issues you raise don’t come as a surprise. Naturally, especially in stage two meetings, you also want to ask the investor for their objectives.
Provide materials beforehand
In a number of cases, the issues you wish to discuss will involve other materials to view over. These could be:
- First stage meetings – Business plan, financial information, background information of the board/ownership of business
- Second stage meetings – Company records, financial analysis and other such board material
You want to send this information to the investor prior to the meeting, besides having extra copies available at the meeting. For example, you could send a shorter version of your business plan, as you arrange the meeting – in fact, investors are unlikely to read a full blown business plan, so don’t bother e-mailing them this. At the meeting, you can have a longer version with you and hand it out to the investor.
Follow up the meeting
Finally, you always should follow up the meeting, either with a short phone call or e-mail. This is significant in both stages and could ensure the meetings leave a salutary impression to the investor.
In the follow up message, you want to:
- Thank the investor for the meeting – This is crucial in the case of potential investors, but also polite conduct with existing investors.
- Readdress the essence of the meeting – In the first stage meetings, this is to recap the main points you discussed and perhaps thank the investor for a specific tip they gave you. On the second stage meetings, this involves the formal requirement of sending minutes of the meeting for the investor.
- Arrange the next meeting – You also must add a call to action for the follow-up. If you met a potential investor, you want to say something along the lines, “It was a fruitful discussion, hopefully we could continue it soon. How about next week on Thursday?” In the second stage, you might simply want to remind the investor the pre-agreed meeting is coming up in two weeks, for instance.
Don’t of meetings with investors
Hide or lie
The biggest mistake you can utter when meeting with an investor is to lie or hide facts. Whether you are nervous about meeting a potential investor or anxious about pleasing your existing investors, lying about facts is never the answer.
While majority of business owners might understand the dangers of purposely lying, some might not consider how dangerous it is to hide facts. But you don’t want to keep indispensable information away from the investor – eventually, the facts and figures will come out.
The investor-owner relationship has much to do with trust. You can’t build trust if you can’t be transparent over your business.
You should also avoid rushing through the meeting. Try to ensure there’s enough time to discuss your objectives. If time is limited, rethink your objective and recognize opportunities for narrowing it for now.
Furthermore, there are some specific points about rushing for both first and second stage investor meetings. You should:
- Never talk money in the first meeting. Don’t set this as your first meeting objective, even though you are ultimately looking for the investment.
- Don’t rush into your talking points when meeting with investors at the second stage. Small talk is an essential element of fostering fruitful investor relations and you should always leave a bit of time for pleasantries.
Pressure the investor
Finally, your investor meetings shouldn’t be about convincing the investor to do what you want. You should be excited over your business, the opportunities it could offer for the investor and the strategies you want to implement, but you don’t want to stuff them down the throat of the investor.
A salubrious meeting will mean you present your argument, with strong facts supporting your ideas and claims, and the investor provides his opinion and side to the argument. It’s supposed to be a change of ideas and views, not you making a point until the investor agrees with you.
The above has hopefully provided you guidelines for scheduling and meeting with investors. It is paramount to prepare, not just the meeting itself, but the way you schedule it and to be firm, yet flexible with the investors.
You should always present the investor with a clear opportunity for the meeting, in terms of suggesting an exact date and time, but also be clear about the objectives you want to achieve. At the same time, you want to listen to your investor and provide them the keys to present their own ideas, in terms of date and time, but also the approach they take during the meeting.
Remember that a successful investor meeting doesn’t always mean you achieve all of your objectives. If you don’t receive the investment or your investors don’t agree with your strategy, try to take something positive out of the meeting.