Last week in Part One – The Approach, we looked at identifying a potential strategic partner and executing a successful meeting with them. Today we are going to be looking at how we go from that initial meeting, to constructing a professional proposal, that outline everything discussed at the meeting and insure’s that both parties are on the same page as each other before moving ahead. The last thing you want is a messy situation to arise if things go sour or a misunderstanding occurs. Believe me in every situation now, I don’t care whether someone is just going to come into my office to sneeze – I always make sure beforehand we have a written memorandum of understanding.
Most people think of proposals as the mechanism that is going to close the deal for them, this is a stupid way to think, and if you think like this you WILL NOT close the deal. Ever. People buy or partner with YOU. They do not partner with a pdf that has words on it. A proposal is a tool within the process of sales and partnerships, it is a written re-cap of the pitch you have verbally given. It’s sole purpose is to have in writing what you are offering and what you expect to receive in return. It allows non-decision makers to use it as a guide to show their bosses and it means your expectations are clear.
The worst thing you can do is write a sales pitch within a proposal, your sales pitch should have taken place in the meeting. You should have been clear with your offering at that time. A proposal is about getting the other company to make a choice, either “yes” or “no” to the deal.
Like anything your proposal should have a clear structure. This is how I structure a simple strategic partner proposal. Over no more than 2 pages if possible.
Title and Introduction
The most common mistake people make with proposals is trying to be fancy or “intelligent” – when it comes to closing deals, being intellectual in the way you word any part of a proposal is dumb. Call it like it is. Simple = Sales. If it is a strategic partnership proposal with Coca Cola. The title should be – “Coca Cola / Your Company – Partnership Proposal”
The introduction should be no more than a paragraph long explaining who your company is and what it does, this serves as a reference tool for anyone needing to go through this proposal with a decision maker in their business.
Everyone has an agenda in business, I have one, you have one – we all have one! – Just be up front with it. In all my proposals whether they be for strategic purposes or otherwise, I always just put it straight out there. You are going after a mutually beneficial arrangement with these people – 2 wins for them, 1 win for you remember – if you don’t communicate it, you won’t get it. Clearly and concisely tell them what the end goal is for both parties.
Your Proposal to Them
Detail in this section what you will be giving them. Clearly define their two wins and what they mean to their company. Then if needed break these wins down into components. For example:
Shoe String Media will give ABC Company advertising and lead generation. The way we will do this is:
- 50,000 home page impressions of ABC’s ad on homepage per month
- 6 Advertorial articles by ABC published on shoestring.com.au over the next 6 months
- Email captured for leads from the readers downloading ABC materials from our Tools of the Trade section
This means you have stipulated what you will achieve for them and how you are going to fulfil your end of the bargain, it is written down so there is no confusion or crossed wires in the decision making process.
The Return Agreement
In this section you layout how you will achieve your “win” in the partnership. You give them an expectation of what it is you are after and the cost [if any] this will cause to their business. Be concise about what you are after. People often mellow this section out using confusing language and dressing it up almost concealing what they are after. If you tell someone what you want from them, they will give you the answer much faster if it is not possible to do.
Decisions need expiration dates, after which expectations around you going and finding alternative partners should be clear, especially if exclusivity is part of the deal. Write down a call back date for a decision, that way your call is expected and in writing.
Simple Proposals, mean Simple Strategic Partnerships – if you complicate or fancy things up at this point, you have a painful partnership ahead of you, full of bad communication.