As a founder, you need to be selling all the time. It’s not just your product that you need to convince reluctant buyers to purchase – you also need to sell your startup to investors, so that they will agree to fund you.
The best way of selling is to tug at people’s heartstrings, and the most effective way of doing this is to tell a story. Now this can be surprisingly hard for some founders to do. They suffer from the curse of expert knowledge, which means they get so caught up in the technical minutiae of their product, that they are not able to explain what they are doing and why. They get so lost in all the cool features of the services they provide, that they are not able to excite their listeners.
This is why they get such a lukewarm response from investors. The trouble is that most funders will nod their heads intelligently when you talk to them, even if they can’t understand what you are saying. Most will not self-confidence to acknowledge that what you are saying is going above their heads because they don’t want to display their ignorance.
Entrepreneurs find this very frustrating and when they can’t get their message across, they conclude that investors are dumb because their depth of knowledge is limited. This may be true, but there’s no point in blaming funders for their lack of domain expertise – after all, this is not their core competence!
It’s your job to educate them, and you need to work on improving your skills at getting your message. Stories are the way humans have communicated for centuries and a picture is worth a thousand words. You need to learn to marry the two and use storyboards when you pitch to funders.
Movie makers use storyboards all the time, and it’s an easy skill to master. A storyboard is a graphic representation of how a movie plays out, and you can think of it as a comic book version of a movie script.
Story boards are powerful because they use visuals. They allow you to show, not just tell, and this makes it much easier for other people to understand your idea. You will find that your listeners will get to their Aha! moment much faster if you use this versatile tool. Thus, you could use a storyboard to illustrate the three most important use cases of your product. A storyboard allows the audience to identify with your customers. It enables you to illustrate your client’s problems and makes it much easier for you to show why your clients will be willing to pay you money for your solutions.
It’s easy to make a story board – and you don’t need to be an artist to do so. Bad drawings are fine – you can always improve them later.
Storyboards are very useful and they can be repurposed – for example, for creating scripts for your sales teams, when they are selling your services to customers. They can graphically highlight the customer’s pain points, and show him how buying your services will help to improve his productivity and efficiency.
So grab some paper and a pen and start storyboarding – just tell the story of your customer, and how his life improved after using your product, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much interest you arouse! You can find lots of templates to help you get kickstarted.
[This post by Dr. Aniruddha Malpani first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]