Founders often ask me for tips on how to end a first pitch, especially with Zoom calls that tend to feel a lot less natural than meeting face-to-face. This process can seem awkward, with confusion around how to set the stage for following up beyond “Great, let’s keep in touch.”
I’ve heard other people offering specific tactics on how to handle it perfectly. While I, too, teach tactics and provide step-by-step processes, I have always been hesitant to give prescriptive advice that gives everyone a script to follow.
Why? Because every situation, person, and setup is unique — and when you encounter something that forces you to deviate from a specific script, I want you to be prepared instead of starting to panic 😱
So, how should we approach this? By focusing more on the first principles around closing the conversation. The biggest thing to understand is that like in so many other areas of fundraising, the investor needs to sense that they're not all that special and you aren't putting them on a pedestal. You are a founder who has options.
Even if you don’t really have a ton of meetings lined up, act from a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. They are just one of many investors that are interested enough to take a call, and you're actively seeking the best possible partnership, not just any dumb money. You are in the middle of a process and doing whatever you can to avoid wasting time. If you deeply believe this, how would you end the call? That's how you should be thinking about it.
While these aren’t meant prescriptive, here are my key strategies to keep in mind as you prepare for your call:
1. Your time is valuable
Don’t let the call run over the scheduled time. By ending on time, you're subtly communicating that you're not just fixated on them but also have a lot going on as a busy founder - maybe even meeting other investors right after, and you can't afford to bend your schedule for them. That is when things start going off in their heads around losing deals, getting excited about deals, 'FOMO-ing,' and whether or not you could be the unicorn that returns in a fund.
Keep track of the clock. If you’re still only halfway through your deck with five to ten minutes left, you need to call it out and say, “Hey, we only have eight more minutes left. I want to make sure that there's time to go over (the key point you haven’t made yet or want to concentrate on).”
2. Show interest in learning more about the investor and what sets them apart
Prepare specific questions to learn more about the investor and why they could be the right partner. This reinforces the fact that you're not just interested in their money but also the expertise/experience they could potentially add to your business. Remember, you're evaluating whether they're the right fit, just as much as they are assessing you. If you had your pick of investors, you’d want to know what differentiators they bring to the table. You are a founder who wants to collect all the data you need to make the smartest decision about who you allow onto your cap table.
3. Set the Stage for Process:
This is what a founder who is running a tight, organized fundraising process might say: “Really enjoyed our call. There are a couple follow-up items that I’ll be sending you. Can you tell me what your process looks like, because I’d love to stay on top of it so that it fits within the timelines we’re running through.” This helps make the follow-up less awkward because they’ll already be expecting whatever materials you’ll be sending.
While these principles give a solid foundation, they might not fit seamlessly into your conversation's flow and context. Stay flexible and keep this in the back of your mind: How do I subtly let the investors know they aren’t the only game in town?