When an investor asks a question, many pitching entrepreneurs, don't finish listening to the question, interrupt the investor, say she is completely wrong, and then unload a torrent of words, facts, and slides to squash the issue now and forever. (Israeli entrepreneurs often display this temperament)
Before unleashing, count to 10:
- Is this really a fundamental deal breaker for the investor, or maybe an opening into a conversation about your company? Is she trying to attack, or actually be helpful in a constructive way?
- Does the investor have the credibility to ask the question (i.e., could she actually be right)? Listen carefully what she bases her question on.
- If you don't know, or if she made a good point, you might be better off acknowledging it. The presentation is a test case about how you are as a person to work with on a day to day basis. Explosive reactions to feedback does not give you points.
- If the investor is wrong, and you have good evidence to show it, answer the question politely, showing people they are ignorant, possibly in front of her colleagues is not very good for your relationship.
- If the question is very fundamental, you are unlikely to win the argument within the 30 minute time frame of a pitch. Better to leave that debate for later.
In all of this the opposite can also happen. A quiet, introvert investor might just ask a quiet question, looking worried, then might ask it again later in the meeting, and maybe again "are you sure"? This could be the tell-tale sign of a deal breaker issue that sounds like a casual conversation. Still, pounding the investor on the head in reply might not be the best solution, but this is one you need to squash somehow, either in the meeting or via follow up.
Image by Steve Collis on Flickr