In investment sales, there’s a huge focus on getting the meeting, often at the expense of crafting a strong pitch. That oversight represents a critical misstep.
Anytime you make a pitch, there’s a lot at stake – capital for the firm and your compensation. For you, a lot is riding on your ability to tell a compelling story about your strategy. Nail it and you’re golden; fail, and, well, there’s always tomorrow.
But you’re not the only one with something at stake. Every time an allocator recommends an investment strategy, they’re taking a career risk. Every time you sit down to pitch an investment strategy, you’re asking them to take a career risk. If they recommend a strategy that performs poorly, it could cost them their job. That’s why the pitch is pivotal.
For the institutional investor sitting across from you, “no” is the safest answer.
It’s your job to make them understand as deeply as they can what you do and how you do it. That’s an imposing task. But strong messaging and storytelling has the power to provide all the information your buyer wants in a way that will make them comfortable with your strategy and give them the confidence to potentially allocate to it.
Through narrative, both written and visual, you can control the story being told about your strategy and the words used to describe it, and significantly increase the probability of getting an allocation.
At Dakota, we’ve been raising money on behalf of boutique investment firms since 2006, and have raised over $35 billion in that time. We’ve turned storytelling into a major part of how we work with our partners, and have continued to find value in refining that process over the years.
In this article, we’re explaining how you can become a masterful storyteller and bring your firm and your story to life. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to position and explain your firm so that you’re answering the questions due diligence analysts want answered, all while keeping them engaged from beginning to end.
Before you attempt to tell your story to someone else, you have to be sure you know it yourself. After all, every investment strategy of worth will have a story, and a story that makes sense to the listener. Your job is to pull that out.
To start out, ask the Portfolio Manager a couple questions. First: What gets you excited to come to work in the morning? Once you get to the underlying passion they have for investing and investing in their underlying strategy, you’ll be able to pull from that passion and their words.
After that, it’s about continuing to dig into that narrative, and keep digging and asking why.
And while this type of conversation will give you a firm understanding of the passion they have, that doesn’t mean the story is being told the proper way.
Our job is to figure out the best part of the story and the best way to tell it.
At Dakota, we like to call this “the mom test.” If you were telling your mom the highlights of your firm, would she understand it? Tell your story by highlighting where your unique capabilities lie, and be able to execute on it, keeping it thoughtful and simple.
If you know the story by heart, and weave in the passion of real people, the story will be truly yours, and not something you simply read off of a slide.
What does it mean to be a master messenger? It means knowing your story and telling it eloquently in a meeting with a due diligence analyst.
These meetings are where you have the chance to really bring the story to life, and give you the opportunity to have a conversation with your potential buyer.
The better you make the story sound, the more excited the potential buyer will be. The goal is to create excitement. What makes you unique? How can your firm stand out in a portfolio?
Before you can truly build excitement, you’ll need time to answer roughly fifteen to twenty questions about your firm.
What are the table stakes questions you know your buyer is going to want answers to? These can include things like:
(You can read more about which questions to ask and when in another recent article: A Guide to Video for Investment Firms, which breaks them down in even more detail.)
Tell the analysts about your strategy in a very distinct way. This allows the buyer to frame where they would fit you in their existing portfolio, and allows them to ask questions about performance in specific scenarios.
At the end of the day, you need the story to be easy to understand. Most analysts have many other things going on, which means you need to make it easy for them to know where you fit. Keeping it simple will help you win in the long run.
We’ve found that 95% of the time, a firm’s story will be housed in the brains of the investment salespeople.
These stories often don’t make it onto paper, the website, or into a video. It’s your job to not only find out the story, but how you can use it and when.
The best firms are the ones that put all that information (how you as an investment salesperson answer key questions), and put it in various formats for people to consume them.
Because RFPs are done with compliance-laden language, they cannot accurately depict how your specific firm answers questions. So that means, in order for someone to get to know your firm, you have to tell the story yourself.
We know how the due diligence analysts want it written. But you can share that story in other formats like: PDF, video, on your website, and within databases where people go to get information on investment strategies.
However you choose to share the story, you need to be able to email and share it, whether it’s in a podcast, written, or video format.
The first step to telling a compelling story is to start asking questions. Sit down for a conversation with your portfolio, and really get to the heart of why they do what they do. That passion will allow you to keep asking questions and digging deeper into what makes them tick and keeps them going.
Having this kind of energy when you’re in a meeting or sharing an introductory video about your firm will set you apart from the firms relying on strictly RFPs and pitch decks to get them to the finish line.
Start by finding the passion within the story, and then use that to propel you forward.
Need help defining which questions to ask and when? Struggling to really bring your story to life? We’d love to schedule a 15-minute consultation with Dakota Studios, our world-class studio space that provides marketing assets to investment firms like yours. Our team will ensure that you’re answering the questions due diligence analysts want answered.
Written By: Amy Sariego, Director of Content Marketing
Amy Sariego is the Director of Content Marketing at Dakota.
September 17, 2021
October 31, 2022
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