Wildcatter’s Guide to Selling a Deal

Throw out the self-help books on salesmanship… forget everything you have ever learned from those marketing seminars… and, whatever you do, do not look for role models in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street or Boiler Room. When it comes to pitching your deal or project, you need to understand that Wildcatters are not your typical audience.

So, what makes a Wildcatter tick? Here are some critical points that must be remembered when promoting your idea to a Wildcatter:

1. Don’t Hard Sell: Putting on a “hard sell” might work if you are selling shoes…or a used car…or even a penny stock. However, this tactic actually has the reverse affect when trying to bring in a Wildcatter to a business deal. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, allowing an investor the opportunity to easily say “no” on a high risk investment will reap dividends down the road. If you make it difficult or uncomfortable for a Wildcatter to turn your proposal down, he is less likely to review your next project.

2. Be punctual: Wildcatters are busy people; don’t ever, ever, ever be late to an appointment to present your project to a Wildcatter. As you probably know by now, deals chase money, not the other way around. An easy way to get scratched off of the “consideration list” is to insult the value of a Wildcatter’s time.

3. Capture the imagination: Continuing the theme of the value of a Wildcatter’s time, be prepared with a classic “elevator pitch”. What magic can you convey about your deal in the time it takes to ride an elevator up to a Wildcatter’s office? If you haven’t captured his imagination by the time the elevator door dings, you are probably not going to sell the deal.

4. Know Your Product: If you survive the elevator pitch and advance to the “deep dive” round of questions, you better be prepared. You will be peppered with questions about your concept and your projections; have a foundation and a logic to your answers. Important counter-point: When faced with a tough question, it is far better to say “I don’t know, but I will do some research and get back to immediately” than to make up an ill-informed answer that creates a cloud over your credibility.

5. Full Disclosure: If there is an uncomfortable data point that you would just as well not want the Wildcatter to know, put it on the table early. If the information is found out after the fact without your disclosure, your integrity will come into question…you can’t unring the bell.

6. Nothing is Risk Free: Please don’t minimize the risks of any business venture. It is much wiser to explain the risks of your proposal, quickly followed by a logical explanation of how you plan to mitigate those risks. If you make the crucial error of saying, “There is no way this deal can fail”, you will, in all likelihood, promptly be shown to the door.