If you're in the business of sports, the odds are that you are perpetually seeking new clients. In days past, you could get by with a phone book listing, maybe a newspaper ad, and word-of-mouth recommendations. Those days are long gone. These days, the competition is fierce.
Whether you are opening a new franchise, recommending an employee health program, starting a youth sports program, or engaged in adventure tourism, you need to know how to write a proposal to pitch your idea or services.
You're probably more into action than writing. Never written a proposal before? Don't worry. Crafting a business proposal might seem like a formidable task, but it doesn't have to be. Resources right in front of you can show you how to introduce yourself, highlight your services or project, outline your costs, and help your clients understand you are the person who will make it happen. Here's the key: you don't have to start from scratch, staring a blank page on your computer. You'll find it more efficient to begin with pre-written topics and similar sample proposals to help you write your own winning proposal as quickly as possible.
Thinking of sending out a one-size-fits-all cover letter, along with a list of services and associated prices? That's a mistake commonly made by inexperienced proposal writers. Don't do it. A proposal is not a brochure. A proposal is a document intended to persuade someone to give you their business or funds. To be successful, you must gain their trust and make them understand that you can deliver the services to those who need them. A price list cannot substitute for a real proposal.
As a general rule to prepare for writing any kind of proposal, your first step should be to consider who will be reading your proposal. Gather information about the organization you're pitching to so that you can present a proposal tailored to your readers. Yes, that might take more effort than writing a generic version, but you will be rewarded by crafting a tailored proposal that is much more likely to be accepted.
After you have the information in hand, writing the proposal will be reasonably straightforward. That's because proposals that offer services, regardless of the type of services, follow a similar structure: first comes the introduction, then a summary of the needs, followed by descriptions of the services offered, as well as details and costs. Then the proposal concludes with information about the service provider, such as relevant experience, credentials, and capabilities.
The introduction should include a Cover Letter and a Title Page. In the Cover Letter, deliver a personal introduction, provide your company contact information, and include a call to action+a request for whatever you want the reader to do next. The Title Page is pretty obvious. It's a page that introduces your proposal and highlights the project or services you are pitching. Some examples might be "New Shoreline Youth Soccer League Program," "Improving Employee Performance with an In-House Exercise Center," "Opening a Yoga for Life Franchise," or "Aquatic Sports Partnership with Seashore Hotels."
Next, add topic pages that show you understand the needs of your client or the program. Depending on how large the proposed scope of work is, you may or may not need to precede the detailed pages with a brief summary. This summary section (often just a page or two) is normally called an Executive Summary for corporate clients, or a Client Summary for a less formal project. Now, proceed to describe the specific prospective client's requirements, goals, and desires. This is not yet the place where you talk about yourself. This section is all about the client or community to be served (such as when asking for funding for a community project). Use templates such as Needs Assessment, Goals and Objectives, Benefits, and Community.
The next section of the proposal focuses on the details of the services or project you are proposing. Describe the goods and services you are offering, how a project will be built and managed, the costs and benefits, and so on.
If you are pitching your health club or gym services, include topics such as Services Provided, Services Cost Summary, Options, Packages, Classes, Facilities, Equipment and so on.
If you are asking for funding or support for a youth sports program, you'll want topics such as Funding Request, Use of Funds, Facilities, Equipment, Programs and Activities, Approach, Coaching, Training Plan, and so on.
To propose a partnership with another company for a mutually beneficial business arrangement, show how the partnership will benefit both parties (mostly focusing on the partner). Use templates such as Amenities, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Strategic Position, Competitive Analysis, and so on. A good example of a partnership would be an adventure tour service provider pitching an arrangement with a local hotel.
Marketing a sports company or team? Then you'll include topic pages with titles like Marketing Plan, Market and Audience, Sales Plan, and so on.
If you are writing a business plan to start or expand a business, include financial details with topics like Funding Request, Repayment Plan, Location Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Budget, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, Company Operations, etc.
To pitch a project such as a public center or putting a gym inside your business, you'll want pages with titles like Benefits, Features, Recommendations, and Installation Schedule.
Are you pitching the next hot health product, trying to persuade a company to carry it in their inventory? Show how they will benefit from carrying your new product by including pages explaining Benefits, Features, Return on Investment, and your Wholesale Price List.
Maybe you are trying to license your new product idea for someone else to produce. If that's the case, you should include topics like Market Share, Patents, Trademarks, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution.
Finally, to wrap up your proposal, persuade your client or funder that you are the right choice for the job by adding pages like About Us / Company History, Capabilities, Our Clients, References, Credentials, Awards, and Testimonials. Include everything you need to convince your client or funder that you can be trusted to deliver on your promises. Conclude your proposal with a call to action: ask for the client's business or support, tell the customer where to subscribe or purchase your goods or services, or request a meeting for further discussion.
After you have all the writing done, it's time to focus on making your proposal look good with some color and graphics. You can use colored page borders, use custom bullet points or distinctive fonts, and include your company logo. Don't go overboard or get too fancy, though, or your message may get lost among the visual distractions.
Don't send your proposal out before you proofread all the pages. Remember that spell check cannot catch words that are correctly spelled but misused. It's always a good idea to enlist someone who doesn't know your work to do a final proofing pass, because all writers miss errors in their own work.
Finally, save your proposal and then deliver it to your potential client or funder. The best delivery method will depend on your relationship with the recipient. It's common to email a PDF file to a client, but you may want to make a personal effort and hand deliver a printed proposal to show you're willing to go that extra mile.
As you can see, the contents of sports-related proposals will vary, depending on organizations, projects, and the scope of services and products involved.
The good news is that the format and structure of all sports related proposals will be similar. You can find all the templates you need in a proposal kit. The templates in a kit (also called topic pages) will contain explanations and examples of what those particular pages should contain. Using them will make it easy to write and format your proposal sections. A proposal kit will also contain a wide variety of sample service sales proposals, product sales proposals, and other project proposals that will give you great ideas. In no time, you will have finished your own winning sports proposal.
Ian Lauder has been helping businesses and individuals write their proposals and contracts since 1999. => For more tips and best practices when writing your business proposals and legal contracts visit http://www.proposalkit.com
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