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2x startup Founder & CEO who has gone to the Dark Side of VC. His first company, BuildOnline was sold in 2005, his second, Koral was acquired by Salesforce.com and became known as Salesforce Content, while Mark served as VP Product Management. In 2007 Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner.  He focuses on early-stage technology companies, usually looking at Series A investment, and blogs at the aptly titled Both Sides of the Table.

5 responses to “The Best VC Meetings are Debates not Sales”

  1. Zoli Erdos

    This is interesting… for the first time forgot I was reading your VC Advice series.

    Vivid memories of bad, non-interactive sales pitches came back to me and none were in a VC / Startup context… that’s because like you, I spent half my life in the Enterprise Software world.

    Your advice here stands true for any sales situation in any business :-)

  2. Paul Michaud

    Great advice Mark. I do presentations to Bank CXO’s almost every day and I find the best once are when I don’t get off the title slide and we have 3 hours of interactive discussions. I never really thought of the same in the context of a VC pitch since every one else seems to recommend a highly polished scripted pitch. I like your approach better as it fits my personal style.

  3. Jagan

    Thanks Mark for this post. Very well written, simple and straightforward with no jargons!. Worth reading before any sales meeting.

    Having been in formal/information discussions with customers from different countries (particularly Europe & US)I found that cultural issues play a more important role (particularly in Points #6/7 – I dont know/getting back w/answers) than I originally thought. Could you please share your views on this please.

    Thanks again for this refreshing post

  4. Mark Suster

    It’s true that when I was writing I was thinking a lot about sales meetings. What prompted my post was a particularly bad meeting last week where the guy started by showing me a 5-minute video. I kept thinking, “why would he lose the chance to build rapport with me?” So I’m going to post that incident next.

    I agree that this is the best kind of meeting, Paul. But some people mistake this for not needing slides. Unfortunately sometimes teams want and expect slides so you obviously need to be ready if asked. Sort of a back-up. Talk soon.
    Mark

  5. Mark Suster

    Thanks for the comments, Jagan. I’m going to write a post about cultural differences at some point having sold in 8 or 9 countries in the past. I think it’s fine anywhere I’ve been to get back to people with answers later. Some countries it is less normal to say you don’t know – thinking of Japan and India in particular. I haven’t experienced it in Europe. One thing I know for sure – in England you need to be really understated in the sale. They hate the brash American, Oracle-like salesforce rep.