Three Ways to Win Over An Investor’s Industry Expert

As an entrepreneur, sooner or later you will find yourself pitching an investor who brings in their own industry expert to provide an objective assessment of your business.

Regardless of the amount of time and effort you have invested in the relationship up to this point, this expert’s opinion can literally make or break your deal. If they see value in your solution, then you’ve cleared one of the main hurdles to getting the investor to commit. If they don’t, the deal will most likely stall out, or you’ll soon receive a flat-out pass.

This can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s a fundamental reality of startup life, so it makes very little sense to get upset. Instead, you should approach this assessment as what it is—another opportunity to make a sale.  Here’s three quick tips:

Don’t Lead With Your Investor Pitch
It’s counterintuitive for an entrepreneur, but it’s not a great idea to start your conversation with an industry expert by telling them how much better and smarter you and your solution are. Keep in mind that this expert earned the respect of the investor for a reason. No matter how broken or ineffective their existing process might be, they are getting the job done and may well believe their approach is perfect as-is.

Instead of challenging this idea directly, try opening the conversation with questions about their existing workflow and thought process. Get a sense for how they think about their industry and their own pain points. Then, pivot more naturally into how your solution could improve upon their status quo.

Treat Them Like a Customer
It makes no sense to talk to an industry expert the same way you talk to an investor. It’s not enough to simply tell them about a major problem in the industry—you must first get them to admit that the problem actually exists.

It’s not at all unlike the way you would approach a sales lead. If you can’t get the prospect to admit they have a problem, then your chances of closing the deal have just evaporated. So, treat the expert like a prospect—after all, they are in your industry; they may actually become one someday.

Push Them To Acknowledge The ROI
Investors want to see customer traction, and every customer I know of prioritizes buying decisions based on tangible financial benefit to their organization, either from top line sales revenue or operational efficiencies. In other words, they buy goods or services that help them make or save more money.

Focus on getting your investor’s industry expert to acknowledge the potential value your solution in these terms. Literally, ask them if they think your solution delivers value to the targeted customer. It’s not enough for them to simply like your solution (or you), because buying decisions, like investor evaluations, aren’t based on affinity. They are based on potential value and return.

Remember, your investor’s expert doesn’t have to like your company. They don’t even have to like you. Simply treat them like a customer, pitch them like a customer and push them to admit that your solution provides good ROI.

Do this well, and you will have demonstrated clear value to your potential investor—which in the end is the whole point.