Proposal letters can serve as important tools for gaining new clients, starting new projects and growing a business. From the layout and design to the language used in the document, business leaders must consider all aspects of a proposal before sending it to its intended recipient in order to maximize the document's effectiveness. Just like the opening of such a letter is critical in getting a reader to read through the full contents, the last few sentences of a proposal letter are also of particular importance, as those are the last words the recipient will read before potentially making a decision.
Writing an Effective Proposal
To write an effective proposal letter, it's helpful to begin by gathering all the relevant information you plan to include in the document. This can include statistics, budget figures, dates, definitions and your company's credentials. You may also wish to start with an outline, which is a writing tool that can help you plan out the different categories of your proposal.
The introduction of your proposal should spark the reader's interest and will likely include some basic information about your company and why it's qualified to perform the particular task in question. The introduction may also include a broad overview of the proposal topic so that the recipients understand what they are about to read and why they should keep reading. Some proposals may also start with an executive summary, which is a short overview that summarizes the key points of the proposal. The executive summary is useful for recipients who are short on time but want to get a sense of what the proposal is all about.
The main sections of your proposal will vary depending on the project but may include sections that discuss the project's budget or prices, the proposed timeline for the project and the risks associated with the project. You may also discuss the materials required to complete the project, the labor or types of workers needed to complete the project and the projected revenue or leads generated by the project.
It's important to tailor your document to your specific audience while writing a proposal. The language you use will vary depending on the expertise of the audience, as well as how familiar they are with the technical aspects of the project.
Before sending the proposal to a reader, always carefully edit the document and remove any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and factual inaccuracies. Typos and other mistakes can be perceived as unprofessional and may result in the proposal being rejected.
Closing a Proposal Letter
The conclusion of a proposal is a critical element of the overall document. When the recipient finishes reading the proposal, the last few sentences or paragraphs should stick in her mind. An effective conclusion can help seal the deal and lead the reader to do business with your company. While other parts of the proposal are also important for getting approval to move ahead, it makes sense to spend extra time on the last few sentences to ensure the proposal is persuasive.
In the conclusion, consider recapping the top-level points of the proposal to emphasize the major concepts, taking care not to repeat verbatim what you already wrote. This final summary should provide an analysis or explanation that connects all the main points. You may also want to encourage the recipient to continue the conversation by offering to answer any lingering questions or to discuss the idea in greater depth at a later date. For example, you may write: "Please let me know if you have additional questions – I would be happy to answer them." Some effective proposal letters also end with a call to action, which can create a sense of urgency and a reason for the recipient to move forward with the proposal. An example of a call to action is: "Get started on this project today by contacting our team."
- Coursera: University of Maryland College Park Master Class for Corporate Entrepreneurs
- University of Washington: How to Make an Outline
- University of Maryland University College: Executive Summaries
- Forbes: How to Write a Plan or Proposal That Rocks
- Inc: How to Write a Winning Proposal
- Inc: 5 Closing Statements to Make in a Sales Email
- HubSpot: 18 Closing Phrases to Seal A Sales Deal in 2018
- Persuasive language is key in a proposal, particularly your conclusion, which will leave a lasting impression on your reader. Your language should evoke confidence and impress your reader. For example, you can say that you know you are the best client for the job—"know" is more convincing than"think," for example. Use keywords such as "confident," "profitable," "superior" and "effective" to describe your solution or proposal idea.
Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor with a journalism degree from Northwestern University. She regularly writes about personal finance, saving for retirement, business, startups and saving money. Her work has appeared in Don't Waste Your Money, The Penny Hoarder, the Associated Press, the Denver Post and other publications.