One of the keys to writing a successful proposal is persuading your audience that they will benefit from your recommendation -- not just telling them that you need something from them. It's best to use a combination of techniques when creating your proposal to convince your readers that you can help them.
One example of a successful proposal strategy uses the technique of defining the outcome you want. An unclear request makes it difficult for someone to say yes to you, points out business and career adviser Allison Green, writing for U.S. News & World Report. If you leave it up to the audience to determine the specifics of your request, they might not act. For example, if you want a new computer or software program, don't just tell your supervisor what it is you want; also tell him how much it will cost, where the company can buy it and how to place the order.
Another key point to address when writing a proposal is to identify your audience as specifically as possible. If you don’t know your primary audience, you won’t understand their needs and won’t be able to understand why they would want to support your proposal, reports Forbes writer Sue Clayton.
For example, if you are proposing something that might be good for all company employees, determine who makes the decisions. This helps you focus your proposal on that person or that group’s need. Let’s say you’re proposing to a small-business owner that the accounting department should add a part-time bookkeeper. The benefits you stress would apply to the small-business owner, and not just the accounting department, because the owner is your target.
Identified Problem or Opportunity
To convince people to act, you must convince them that they to act. You can do this by showing that the reader has a problem or an opportunity at the very start of your proposal. Once she agrees she has a need, she will then want to learn about your solution.Tests
To convince people to act, you must convince them that they need to act. You can do this by showing that the reader has a problem or an opportunity at the very start of your proposal. Once she agrees she has a need, she will then want to learn about your solution.
After you present a problem or opportunity, show your solution to the main reader you’ve identified as your target. In the example of trying to convince a small-business owner to add accounting staff, you'll show him that the problem he faces goes beyond an overworked accounting department. Avoid circular logic when identifying your audience's problem, such as telling the owner that adding accounting staff solves the problem of no accounting staff, recommends the Rochester Institute of Technology in its guide to successful proposal writing.
This small business's challenges include clients receiving late invoices, receivables that are slowly paid, more interest on debt not being paid off and poor cash flow. A successful proposal clearly demonstrates what the part-time bookkeeper will do and how this new position benefits the small business owner and helps solves the business's problems.
The more you can back up your recommendations with data, statistics and other hard facts, the more believable your recommendations will be. Successful proposals don’t require the reader to rely only on the presenter’s expertise. If possible, provide examples of how others have followed your recommended solutions and the results they achieved.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.