If you're in the business of training or education, the odds are that you are perpetually seeking new clients. These days, the competition is fierce and more and more, you may be competing against low-cost online services. How do you make your services stand out from the crowd? You need to write a persuasive proposal to pitch your training services to new clients.
Not a writer? Never written a proposal before? Don't panic. Creating a business proposal might sound intimidating, but it doesn't have to be an arduous task. As an expert in the training field, you already possess the skills you need. A big part of writing a winning proposal is understanding structure and putting together a document that is easy to read and understand.
Here's what you need to do in a proposal: introduce yourself, show that you understand your client's position, highlight your services, outline your costs, and help your clients understand you are the right person for the job. And you don't have to start off staring a blank page on your computer, either. You can use pre-designed templates and look at similar sample proposals to make the proposal writing process quick and efficient.
Inexperienced proposal writers sometimes make the mistake of mailing out only a cover letter accompanied by a list of services and prices. That's not a good idea. Your goal is to persuade potential clients to give you their business. You must gain the clients' trust and make them understand that you can deliver the services they need; a simple price list can never do that.
As a trainer, you know that you must address the needs of your audience. That's true in a proposal, too. So, to prepare for writing any kind of proposal, your first step should be to gather information about your client so that you can present a proposal tailored to meet that client's specific needs. Of course, that might take a bit of effort, but that research will make your proposal much more likely to pay off. Nobody likes to receive form letters; any client is much more likely to accept a customized proposal. Your time will be better served by learning about your potential client and structuring a proposal that specifically targets their needs than blanketing the field with a one-size-fits-all approach, or even an offer of multiple “packages.”
After you've collected information about your potential client's history, needs, and concerns, you'll find that writing your training services proposal is a reasonably straightforward process. 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 client's needs, followed by descriptions of the services offered, as well as details and costs. Then the proposal should conclude with information about the service provider, such as relevant experience, credentials, and capabilities.
So, for the introduction section, create a Cover Letter and a Title Page. The Cover Letter should deliver a personal introduction, provide your company contact information, and include a call to action - ask for the client's business or request a meeting. The Title Page should introduce your proposal with a title that indicates the project or scope of training services you are pitching. Some examples might be "Training Your Staff on the Latest Office Software," "Mentoring Services for Helping Your Student Excel," "Hazardous Waste Handling Courses for Exaflow, Inc.," or “Software Training for AB Call Center.”
Following the Cover Letter and the Title Page, you'll add pages to show that you understand the needs and concerns of your client. 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. For a complex project or variable scope of work that needs a 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.
In the pages of this client-centered section, describe the needs of the specific prospective client and demonstrate your understanding of that client's requirements, goals, and desires.
For example, you might outline how outdated their office software systems are and the need for new products and training to bring them up to date.
You might point out new developments in the client's field, such as new regulations or security concerns that require educating their employees.
Or you might be involved in retraining laid-off workers in a new field and discuss how the client's business can benefit from your program.
This is not yet the place where you talk about your services. This section should stay focused on the client. Use topics such as Needs Assessment, Goals and Objectives, Special Needs, and so on.
After the client's needs and goals have been outlined, describe how you plan on accomplishing those goals and meeting their needs. Use topics such as Education, Training Plan, Retraining, Tutoring, Mentoring, Coaching, Guidance, Prerequisites, Classes, Exercises, Curriculum, Materials, Grading System, Careers, and so on. You'll also add pages about your services and costs, with titles like Services Provided, Benefits, and Services Cost Summary.
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After providing the details of your training program, you need to persuade your client that you are the best choice for the job, so add pages like About Us / Company History, Experience, Our Clients, References, Credentials, Certifications, Awards, and Testimonials; in other words, include everything you need to convince your client that you can be trusted to deliver the training services needed. Finally, include one or two topic pages to wrap things up with a call to action. Use topics such as Recommendations or Evaluation.
Training services may also be a component of a larger project proposal. For example, you may be proposing a complex software system project that includes descriptions of equipment, installation details, staffing, and so on. A complex proposal like this may also include a subset of topics for training. In this case, you will follow the basic structure outlined here, but the Training Plan will most likely be listed as one section of the proposal.
To help persuade clients, proposals should be visually appealing. Consider doing any or all of these to add graphics and splashes of color: incorporate your company logo, use colored borders on your pages, or select custom bullet points and fonts that match your business style. Learn how to effectively select colors for a winning business proposal.
Because you are providing educational training, your proposal must be flawless. Carefully proofread and spell-check all the pages, and get someone who is unfamiliar with your proposal do the final proofreading pass, because it's easy to overlook mistakes in your own work.
Finally, save your proposal and deliver it to your potential client. The best delivery method will depend on your business and your relationship with your potential client. Emailing PDF files to clients is a common practice; however, consider that a nicely printed, signed and hand-delivered proposal might impress the client more by showing you value that client enough to put in the extra personal effort. These days, too many businesses are automating everything possible and losing the personal touch.
Now you know that all training services sales proposals follow a similar format and structure, and you can find all the topics you need in Proposal Pack. The pre-written topic pages contain explanations of what those particular pages should contain. They will guide you in writing and formatting appropriate information for your proposal sections. Proposal Pack also contains a wide variety of training and educational sample proposals that will give you great ideas and help you get a jump start on writing your own winning proposal.