Writing great proposals is not rocket science. But too often we try to short cut the process. If you follow these four simple steps you will be successful with your proposals.
1) Understand the prospect’s needs. This means extensive discovery sessions. Before you can build a proposal, you need to know the prospect’s specific goals. Are they sales? Is it about building brand awareness? Is it a PR or GR move? Perhaps it is about employee engagement. Perhaps it is all of these! What have they done in the past? How has it worked? What worked for them and what failed—and most importantly why? Until you know all of this and more, you cannot build an effective proposal.
2) Know what you have available to sell and what it is worth. You cannot open a retail store without knowing what products you have on your shelf before you market yourself. Likewise, to build an effective proposal, you need to know what assets you have available and their real market values. Perhaps they are activation opportunities such as sampling or product showcasing; perhaps they are social media opportunities with your audience. You need to know who your audience is and whom you can deliver—that is a huge part of knowing what you have to sell! It is pretty hard to build a proposal unless you know what is available for sale.
3) Understand their budget. Unless you know how much the prospect plans to invest, you really cannot build a proposal. This means that, as part of the discovery session, you need to determine the prospect’s budget. It may be a set ceiling number, a range, or even two to three ranges. (They may be interested seeing two or three options in different price ranges.) Until you know the budget, you cannot build the proposal.
4) Custom build the proposal. The proposal must be customized. It should only include those assets that will actually help the sponsor achieve their goals—not a bunch of “fluff” that you need to “dump” such as tickets to the event/festival/gala that they will not use! And finally, the customized proposal should really be your final presentation. If you have interacted well with the prospect and done all your due diligence, the actual presentation of a proposal should already be agreed to. There should be no surprises and the prospect should have already agreed to every aspect you are presenting. The proposal should be nothing more than a document recapping what you have both already agreed to and an opportunity for them to sign off and move forward.
I know this simplifies the process, but it is the tried and true process I have used for the past 25 plus years of my sponsorship sales experience and almost 20 years of working successfully with clients on developing sponsorship proposals that close deals.
Brent Barootes is president and CEO of Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists, a national coast to coast consultancy assisting sponsorship buyers and sellers to maximize their individual profitable ROI.