Proposals that Pull Also Get Emotional

What makes a good sponsorship proposal?
What makes a bad one?
And how do you know when you’ve got it right?

These questions come up occasionally in the Sponsorship Boot camps I teach. I’m sorry to say I don’t have any easy answers. The honest truth is, I struggle with proposal alchemy myself.

On the one hand, proposals seem like the least important part of the selling process: Shouldn’t you have gained enough excitement in your offer to make the proposal more like gravy? Not in every case.

Keep in mind that finding a sponsor for your idea is not like selling a widget. You’re pitching a concept. Which means you must persuade on three levels: imagination, emotion and logic.

You entice with imagination—those intoxicating visions we sniff before ordering the bottle.

You sell on emotion—that outpouring of words, feeling and impressions that inspire investment.

You justify with logic. These days, sponsors buy in teams. You need logic to quell naysayers on the periphery.

I once desperately wanted to create a proposal that was purely logical. I was pitching a software developer to sponsor a C-level retreat. I admit it now. I was intimidated by the technical bent of the buyer. Naturally, the proposal was heavy on features and benefits. Apparently,it landed on deaf ears.

I sought feedback from the rejection as I encourage my students to do. My heart sank when I heard the reason—“There was just no thrill.” I was incensed. Not at the buyer–at myself. I knew better, but my intellect over ruled my gut.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let me use this lesson to inspire you. Never mind what you learned in business school or in the school of hard knocks. People want to feel excited and engaged in business transactions. I encourage you to put more heart into your proposals. The power of words can make a sponsor fall in love your idea.