We spend a lot of time with asset managers, of all varieties, private equity, hedge funds, venture funds, CTAs, and more. Marketing decks are meticulously scrutinized. We debate language, performance metrics, and design. The same level of attention is applied to websites. Every word is analyzed. The functionality and responsiveness tested. Every detail is considered. At the end of the process, the marketing platform is credible, professional, and convincing.
Often times, however, I know the manager is still going to struggle to raise capital – even if the story is strong and performance is there. Why? Because many managers undervalue the “art” of selling.
And I am not discounting performance, it needs to be there, but it only needs to be “good enough.” After that, it’s all about the subtleties.
It is a running inside joke amongst allocators – they haven’t met a manager that isn’t top quartile. On the first face-to-face meeting, be able to clearly articulate why someone should invest with you in under 30 seconds. Use uncomplicated language and re-affirm interest before pushing forward. Very few GPs do this well. You will be surprised by how much you will learn if you simply ask if your story is interesting. If they lean in and say yes, the dynamic of the room changes.
Never flip through a marketing deck during an introductory meeting. Allocators don’t know whether to look at you or read the deck, and the meeting will turn into a bunch of awkward interactions.
Yes, allocators want what they want, and you will need to get them what they need – eventually. You will be surprised how fast standard operating protocol will evaporate if the other side of the table is actually interested.
To get people interested you need to insert your authority over the sales process. Yes, this is damn hard to do, however, it is a difference maker. Impossible? Have you tried?
The relevancy and professionalism of your materials, website, fact sheets, etc. matter. And often times not because of the brilliant prose you apply. Modern, sharp and relevant tools say more than you think they do, especially when allocators are staring at five groups with average annualized returns of 7.5%, 7.8%, 7.3%, 7.7% and 7.8%, all with similar risk profiles. This isn’t uncommon.
Ensure the diligence process is impressive. The ease of use and organization of your data room often makes the difference. Allocators should be able to “fall” through your materials. You should also be able to break down your competitive set in such detail that you stand out. Need help, talk to these guys (www.lpanalyst.com)?
I shouldn’t have to say this, but respond with immediacy. Time is a valuable asset. Ensure that your unique selling proposition is captured in video. Marketing is no longer a manual process. You need to expose allocators to your passion, conviction and charisma, without having to get on airplanes.
The list goes on. My general point, start to choreograph the sale process. You will quickly uncover the weakness within your current approach. Again, there is nothing more powerful than self-awareness.