By Michael Quigley, Research Manager, LSN
Having personally scheduled and held several hundred interviews with Life Science investors over the past year, I have developed and refined a formula for getting “in the door” with an introductory email. As anyone who has embarked on a fundraising campaign knows, initiating the dialogue is often the hardest part of the process. Few introductory emails ever get opened, and even fewer earn a reply at all. However, there are a few concepts and tactics that can increase your efficacy substantially when it comes to initiating a dialogue and locking in that first meeting. This article will share some insights from my personal experience that may be helpful in your email outreach.
The first thing that you need to understand when drafting an introductory email is that the entire purpose of the email is just that, an introduction. You will not close a deal with one email and this should not be your target. The ability to concisely introduce your technology in a professional and compelling way is what you should be aiming for. Drowning the investor with blocks of text and attachments may as well be a wasted effort. Investors are busy, and they don’t have the time to read through stacks of data. From the subject line to the signature, the email needs to be short, sweet, and to the point. A good rule of thumb is that if your email requires that the investor start scrolling to read all of it, then it may already be too long.
The subject line is crucial. The subject should be clear, and include information about your company that is relevant to the investor. For example, “Meeting Request: Novel Cancer Therapy Preparing to Enter Phase I Trials” is a great subject line for an investor with a declared interest in early stage cancer therapeutic development. Now assuming you are reaching out to investors in a targeted manner based on fit, they will naturally be attracted to this subject. Moreover, it shows you aren’t spamming and that you understand their interests. All of these factors increase your odds of getting opens and hopefully a positive reply. With larger investment firms, make sure you are targeting members of the team with backgrounds in areas similar to that of your technology. A little research can go a long way in terms of increasing email efficacy.
The body of the email should be a boiled down paragraph or two encompassing your team, a high level explanation of your technology and recent milestones, and your interest in having an introductory conversation. Keeping a few simple concepts in mind secure your greatest change of earning a positive response:
- Your email should show you are knowledgeable, trustworthy and thereby credible. This can be done through a brief description (one or two sentences) of your personal background as well as a reference to the investor’s interests. Also, by keeping your email concise and targeted, you increase your credibility by demonstrating to the investor professionalism and respect for their time.
- Your email should make further communication a logical choice for the investor. This should be achieved by demonstrating that your investment is a fit for the investor’s mandate. Research your targets well and explain why you are the ideal fit for what they are seeking.
- Personal touches enhance your chances of getting a response. You need to demonstrate that you have put as much if not more effort into this email than the investor is taking to read it. Some ways to do this are mentioning something that recently happened with the investor that is relatable to your proposal. For example, “I noticed your firm has recently raised a new life science fund this spring” or “I recently read an interview you gave on the potential of personalized medicine.” This shows that you have done some research into the firm, and this is not a blanket email you are sending to every investor you can find. By showing the investor you took some care in your outreach and are already in context will greatly increase your odds of a response. On the opposite end – avoid starting emails with “Dear sir” or “to whom it may concern”- this screams mass-email and can be a big turn-off.
- Calls to action get the ball rolling. You should offer the investor a few clearly laid out suggestions as to how to move forward. These should include the option to send the investor more information via email if they desire as well as some times to set up a potential meeting or call. By laying out options for how to move forward, you are bringing the horse closer to the water than by just saying something arbitrary like “look forward to hearing from you.”
By utilizing these recommendations you will greatly increase your odds of getting positive responses from investors. So develop your target list based on fit, identify the right contacts, and send out some introductory emails!