Victor Cruz contacted me to see if I had any ideas that would help him with an investment Summit that he was organising. I get calls like this all the time, but Victor's approach was quite different and refreshing. I had booked only 10 to 15 minutes in my diary for a short conversation but it became a pleasant and quite lengthy exchange of ideas.
When I met Victor for a cup of coffee a few days later, he presented an event sponsorship proposal to me. I was impressed with how much understanding he had gathered about our business from that one conversation on the telephone and how he positioned those insights in-line with the event he is producing.
In fact, reading through Victor's summary, it gave me some interesting insights on how the outside world perceives our business.
It is uncommon to see this calibre of business development expertise at work so I asked Victor if he wanted to share his process of making proposals with us as a blog post.
So here are a few tips and tricks from Victor that you can use when writing your next proposal and hopefully you'll have some fun while doing it!”
Why personalise a proposal?
Delivering a personalised proposal is an efficient way to commit as a solution provider. It gives you the chance to demonstrate to your prospects and clients that you understand their challenges and strategic business goals.
It also helps you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Trust me, there aren’t many Business Development players out there delivering personalised proposals and taking a consultative approach. Typically, the response is a simple document explaining in very broad terms what their proposition is - Flat, lazy and uninspiring.
A personalised proposal builds bridges. Even if you don’t manage to close a deal straight away, the next time you position your solution, product or partnering opportunity that will be remembered.
How? I divide my proposal into 6 stages:
1- The Executive Summary.
This is a short and very direct paragraph or two about your solution, product or partnering opportunity. Don’t make it text heavy, simply cover basic concepts and make sure to mention your 3 big Unique Selling Points (USPs). For example, for an event sponsorship offer, you could state audience track record, key players they could meet and key topics up for discussion. For an investment opportunity, track record and investment strategy could also be a part of your executive summary.
2- Client’s Background and Situation.
This is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of your prospects business, which their target audience is, the sector they work in, and the services they provide. You should have uncovered this information in previous conversations using situation based questions.
3- Feedback from Prospect.
This is your time to shine! You should state in this section of your proposal what the key challenges your prospect is currently facing and future opportunities as stated in your past conversations with them. When uncovering challenges you must understand how it affects your prospect’s goals and business strategies. The more challenges and opportunities you manage to uncover the stronger the business case for investment will be.
4- How can I help you?
In this part of your proposal should relate to every single challenge and opportunity from the section above to what you have to offer. Here's an example for an event sponsorship:
- Simple Challenge – ‘’ Lack of brand awareness resulting in difficulty to win business’’.
- Simple Solution – ‘’ A selection of on site and pre-event branding exercises to increase brand awareness and facilitate generation of new sales’’. Got it?
5 - The Benefits.
This section should contain a summary of your offering. I find that building a table and specifying the quantity of each benefit helps prospects to understand and quantify investment. In this section I also add costs right below the table of benefits. Don’t be afraid to reveal your costs, if you have managed to uncover the challenges and opportunities properly, your prospect will see the value of your offer and price will be just a matter of negotiation. Obviously testing the water before you start this exercise helps tremendously.
6- Next Steps.
Specify what the next steps are. Be specific. Ensure that every time you speak to one of your prospects there is clarity. Clear milestones create the sense of progressing things forward.
To conclude, a proposal is a selling tool that can be used throughout the entire business development process. It should also serve as a road map for follow up calls.
When dealing with objections, simply go back to the section ‘’feedback from prospect’’ and go through the challenges and implications of such challenges on the prospect’s business. Ask your prospect, ‘’ Have you already solved them?’’ I have turned things around using this thought process before!
A few years ago I worked on a digital marketing focused event and was pitching to what has now become a very successful company. The Marketing Director couldn't take me up on my sponsorship proposal because he didn't have a budget. They had such a clear and strong business case to invest that I decided to start the process all over again so I covered all their challenges, opportunities, implications and benefits of a potential partnership…
Only a couple of hours later, and after guaranteeing a budget from their CEO, our partnership was formalised. From what I hear, they have since become long time partners of that same event.
I hope you find these tips and ideas interesting and useful and manage to apply some of the thinking process to the sector you work in.
Good luck and happy proposing!
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