How to Craft the Perfect Lender Pitch for Your Business in 13 Steps
By Jeff Bardos, CEO, Speritas Capital Partners (Jeff’s Bio)
- Develop a compelling narrative
- Support with data & market research
- Integrate strategy with an operating plan
- Show that you can or have invested (see more on equity here)
- Highlight your management and relevant operating skills and team
- Develop projections and cost estimates with supportable assumptions
- Demonstrate your ability to repay the loan through the projections
- Create a 2-3-page overview (not 50!)
- Create a 10-page slide deck
- Share your data through a secure portal
- Show your professionalism, passion and confidence
- Practice your presentation multiple times
- Practice some more! (And get help if you need it).
You may have great confidence in your business, but confidence alone isn’t enough to convince lenders to provide financing. To obtain financing you’ll need to make a convincing loan pitch where you put your strategy, management team, business model, balance sheet and projections in the best light.
You get one chance to make a good impression with a lender, so you have to stand out quickly – in a positive way.
Be sure to tailor your message to your audience. Lender discussions often need to have a different focus than investor conversations because lenders focus on the ability to repay a loan, not on the return on investment.
For lender discussions we advise our clients to focus on the “3 P’s” of the loan pitch process – prepare, package and present.
PREPARE for Lender Discussions
PREPARE for lender discussions by thinking through your business story, competitive edge, projections and cost estimates.
Even though your business has been a major part of your life for months or even years, you’ve only seen it from the inside. It will look completely different from an outsider’s perspective, so get to know it from that point of view.
What is your unique place in the market? What’s special about how you’ve executed your plan? Can you demonstrate customer loyalty? Staff loyalty?
What are the main assumptions driving your projections? Can you support those assumptions with hard facts based on operating history or market research? Develop a roadmap that clearly defines how you are going to succeed.
Keep Things Data-Driven
You may have some grand plans for your business, but you need to stay grounded and professional when you make your loan pitch. Provide hard data, realistic assumptions and clear goals instead of overly optimistic projections.
If you’re in turnaround or scale-up mode, be sure to provide a bridge from past to projected earnings.
If you’re acquiring a business, be prepared to support the purchase price using comparable market transactions. Acquisitions with goodwill or other intangibles require even more support. Explain how growth assumptions factor into the purchase price.
Do in-depth market research and be sure to include it in your presentation.
PACKAGE Your Loan Pitch Information Carefully.
PACKAGE your information carefully. A well-written 2-3 page overview with a financial summary goes a long way. The days of 50-page business plans are gone. Lenders want to grasp the essence of your business and capabilities quickly.
If you can’t distill your pitch, how is a lender going to distill your business in their internal underwriting memo? If you can’t distill your business down to 3-4 pages of bullets and financial highlights, then you haven’t thought through your business plan.
For presentations to lenders, create a 10-page slide deck which highlights key aspects of the business and the loan request.
Allow lenders to access your information through a well-structured, secure data portal rather than a less secure set of email attachments. Some lenders have their own secure portals but if not, consider using portals such as Citrix, SmartVault or Dropbox. Using a secure portal demonstrates your seriousness and sophistication.
PRESENT Your Business
PRESENT your business, your data and, of course, yourself in a professional, approachable fashion.
Even though your business has been a major part of your life for months or even years, you need to take an outsider’s perspective and clearly tell the story in a way that will motivate and inspire a lender.
Keeping your plans realistic and professional doesn’t mean hiding your passion and confidence. Part of your loan pitch is to convince lenders that you are the right person at the helm.
Getting the right balance between being passionate and being practical is tough. You want to show your commitment to the business but also demonstrate you understand the need to generate cash to repay the loan. Whenever possible, have a financial advisor in the meeting to help “translate” technical lender questions.
Practice makes perfect.
Practice your loan pitch with colleagues and friends to make sure it’s complete and convincing. Not once, or twice, but at least 15-20 times – out loud.
Try it out on a variety of people, including those who have no knowledge of your business, and those with and without finance experience.
Adjust the pitch as needed, and keep gathering hard data to keep your plan up to date.
Loan Pitches are Critical for Small and Large Companies
A Turnaround Story
The importance of the loan pitch is not limited to start-up or small companies. Speritas Capital Partners recently worked with a $60MM sales company that was looking to refinance a $15MM loan. The company was in the early stages of a turnaround and was looking for refinancing terms which reflected the turnaround and not the past.
We helped the company describe the turnaround in general terms but also got very specific about which cost drivers had been restructured and what those changes meant for operating margins going forward.
We created a very detailed “EBITDA walk” from the trailing twelve month EBITDA to the forward 12 month EBITDA. We were able to show the impact of both higher gross margins and lower operating costs in key expense categories.
The company’s turnaround story was supported by specific facts that drove the expected improvement in performance. This is the type of data supported narrative that lenders want to see.
And Finally – Get Help!
Speritas Capital works closely with borrowers to prepare, package and present the best verbal and written loan pitches for the borrower’s business, tailored to the specific lenders we approach. We are paid on success and never take up front fees.
About the Author
Jeff Bardos, CEO, Speritas Capital Partners
Jeff has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. After graduating from the Columbia Business School, he joined the New York Federal Reserve Bank as a senior staff member in Bank Supervision, leading the Bank Analysis department. From the nation’s central bank, Jeff moved into the private sector, working at senior levels in commercial banking, retail banking and risk management. He has also played senior founding roles in several start-ups. Learn more about Jeff.
Speritas Capital Partners specializes in difficult credit, collateral and cash flow situations and we never take upfront fees.