How to craft a winning proposal
Sports managers will often be in a situation where they
have to write a business proposal to a potential sponsor or another kind
of prospective client. Although good proposals seldom win deals
directly and always will have to be followed up by a face-to-face
meeting, bad proposals can definitely lose these potential deals and
thus lose the opportunity for having the crucial face-to-face meeting.
Every offering is different and needs to be presented in a different
way, but this handful of hints inspired by the latest book by Tom Sant,
"Persuasive business proposals - writing to win more customers, clients
and contracts", might be helpful to you next time you are going to write
a proposal to a prospect.
Hint no.1: Be persuasive
The easy way is of course just to "clone" old proposals
by changing name and updating basic information, but we all know that
prospects are not interested in bulk or irrelevant detail and they don't
want to have to work hard to understand what you can offer them. So
tell them directly that you have a solution that can provide value.
Don't explain too much, make your proposal persuasive instead.
Hint no.2: Focus on the gap to be closed
The best was to demonstrate that you
understand the prospect's needs and problems is to include in your
proposal a clearly formulated summary of your offering by focusing on
the gap to be closed between the prospect's actual situation and the
situation the prospect will experience if he/she agrees to your
Hint no.3: Focus on the results they want to achieve
Although it might seem more
intuitive to state the problem and then offer the solution, you must
remember that your goal is to motivate and that the problem might not be
motivation enough. Many of the prospect's problems will never be solved
anyway (because it is not worth the effort) so you must convince
him/her that the problem that you can help to solve is the one that is
Hint no.4: Recommend a solution
Many proposals simply describe their products or
services without linking them to the prospect's specific needs. Don't be
passive when you recommend a solution but instead use clear language to
get your points across in a strong, positive way ("we urge you", "we
recommend"). The prospect must be convinced that the benefits derived
from your proposal will be large.
Hint no.5: Keep it simple
The prospect is not as familiar with your work and
offerings as you are. Don't confuse or distract with too much technical
detail and/or jargon. Make your proposal as short, sharp and as clear as
possible. Use illustrations and avoid acronyms whenever you can. Always
try to keep your sentences short, with a maximum of 20 words per
sentence. The simpler and the more readable, the better the proposal -
the better the proposal, the better are your chances of turning the
prospect into a client.