"as always a fast no is better than a long maybe." I have since borrowed that sentence many times over. Too often people are not sure if they want a yes and instead create prolonged discussions because they are either: a) too embarrassed to say no, or b) just want option value.
- Be clear on the "ask". I have seen people pitch us with brilliant clarity of ideas, but a cloud of ambiguity on what they want from an investment partner in terms of both capabilities and dollars
- Set a firm deadline and sense of urgency. When meeting any prospective investor, customer, or buyer, set a clear deadline for a decision. In most cases you can get to a definitive yes or no just by being clear about a close date.
- Agree to and adhere to a post-pitch process. Outline next steps for the follow-up. What additional documents or meetings are required for a decision? When will these occur and will there be sufficient time given the deadline at hand? If nothing is required, agree to the next follow-up date and the form of the follow-up. Make the follow-up timing shorter than your gut tells you: if you think you should follow up in two weeks, say a week. A follow-up in two weeks often means that the person is revisiting the issue in 13 days (the day before follow-up) versus six days for a follow-up in a week.
- Affirm the silent no and provide an out. Become better at trying to confirm the silent no. Schedules change, people ask for more time, and other priorities take over. Know how to escalate to the no. Prolonged silence or indecision requires a forcing mechanism. Something along the lines of "I want to thank you again for your time considering this and realize that now may not be optimal timing. Can I assume a pass for now?" Human nature is more conditioned to a yes or maybe, rather than a no. Politely providing an out is usually appreciated by the other side, and it is a good way to elicit a definitive decision or gain clarity on the best next step.