I Would Love Your Thoughts On This…
These seven simple words can often be the magic words for an entrepreneur in those early days of launching a start-up. For me, they’ve become something of a mantra.
Simply asking “I would love your thoughts on this…” has helped me raise angel and venture financing, build strategic partnerships with Fortune 100 companies, add talent to my management teams, and lock down hundreds of meetings with potential investors, vendors, and partners.
As if by magic, this one phrase can help entrepreneurs naturally break down walls and remove friction with new prospects. It is also a subtle, yet sincere, compliment for the other person. Asking for another’s thoughts— about anything—is a clear demonstration that you value their ideas, perspective, and advice.
Most of us, instinctively, want to help others out; at the same time, we never want to feel roped into something we don’t have time for, or don’t genuinely believe in. Similarly, asking people for their thoughts allows them to provide the feedback you’re looking for, but on their own terms.
Now, since the stakes have been lowered, the person that doesn’t wish to commit can bow out graciously. At this point, they have only offered their perspective, or “a bit of friendly advice,” since this is all you were originally asking for. Also gone is the knee-jerk reaction most of us have when we think someone is trying to sell us something we don’t want, let alone need. Instead of the barriers that typically spring up between entrepreneur and prospect, a sense of trust or even collegiality may develop in its place.
The truth is, to some degree we all get defensive when we feel someone is trying to sell us something. Personally, whenever I feel like I’m being sold, I spend most of my mental energy tallying reasons why I shouldn’t buy what that person’s selling. I’ll look for every hole in his story and build an unassailable argument against it. Unfair as it may be, I rarely even listen to the pitch because I am so focused on my defense. When it comes to pitching a start-up idea the stories of most entrepreneurs are littered with holes…That is just a fact.
By contrast, opening a dialogue with the phrase, “I would love your thoughts on this” removes that “fight or flight” instinct most of us have. As a result, the prospect’s natural defenses are lowered, leaving him or her open to the entrepreneur’s idea or vision. Personally, when someone asks me for feedback in this manner, I immediately relax and offer my honest insights without feeling like I am being pressured or sold. Instead I can listen to the pitch with an open mind, and then determine if we have mutual interests, goals, or expertise. If we do, my next inclination is to figure out what resources I can offer to help launch their business.
For any entrepreneur armed with a vision, a pitch and/or new product or solution the simple phrase “I would love your thoughts on this” will help increase the chances of getting prospects to listen to your ideas with an open mind, freeing them to offer new ideas and insights based on their own experience. In turn, more feedback generates new and even better ideas, superior pitches, and a stable of champions eager to help push a new business forward. All of which, as we well know, are the keys to launching a successful start-up.