How to write a proposal letter
Writing a proposal letter might seem simple. You need to introduce yourself, write a few details about the project, and provide a price for your services, right?
If you’re taking an approach similar to the one just described, you’re likely losing out on sales and customers. Most salespeople make a handful of conversion-killing mistakes when it comes to writing proposals. And the simple reality is that most can be rectified quickly and easily.
In this article, we’ll show you how to write a compelling proposal letter. We’ll give you a proven structure, cover some easily-implementable tips for improving your chances of success, and show you a practical example of a letter that can be used today.
What is a proposal letter?
Most commonly, a “proposal letter” (a term which has a number of overlapping meanings) is a document that acts as a full proposal for small projects, where an in-depth proposal, with a table of contents and extensive project details, is not required.
Alternatively, a proposal letter is sent either as a precursor to a comprehensive and more detailed business proposal or included as part of an actual proposal, used as a cover letter to engage potential prospects.
The first definition will be the focus of this article. Proposal letters are shorter, abbreviated forms of complete proposals. Nonetheless, they follow a similar, albeit more concise, structure.
There’s also one more point worth noting. Sometimes, the terms “proposal” and “proposal letter” are used interchangeably. In such cases, a “proposal letter” is meant to be a full proposal, and you should structure and write your document accordingly.
How do you write a proposal letter?
You should always follow any specific guidelines given by the recipient, especially if you are responding to an RFP (request for proposal). Generally speaking, you can use the following structure when crafting a proposal letter:
Introduction and background
Set the context for the letter by providing a little background information in the first paragraph. If you have already interacted with the recipient, mention this in the opening statements. You may have discussed the prospective client’s problem and agreed to a rough set of objectives. Allude to this conversation and briefly reiterate (in a few sentences or so) why you are well-suited to provide a solution.
Statement of the problem
You can include this as part of the section above, or you may want to dedicate a few paragraphs to it, depending on the extent of the problem.
Goals and objectives
It’s best to be as specific as possible when describing goals and objectives. Objectives should be outlined in list form, preferably with figures attached. It is better to say something like, “We will increase productivity by 30% over three months,” rather than, “We will significantly boost productivity.” You may also want to provide details about the methods you will utilize to achieve these objectives.
How will customers be aware of progress? Will you send a monthly report? Will they have access to a real-time analytics dashboard? Who will the main point of contact be? Which metrics will you use to measure success? Paint a clear picture of how you will ensure that your recipients know the project is moving forward in the right direction.
It’s not usually appropriate to give a full breakdown of costs in your cover letter, but you should give an idea of the budget. The cost of a project is a major factor in the decision-making process, so it’s important to include this information.
Providing a full set of contact details at the end of the letter, including a phone number and email address, can be incredibly helpful if clients want to call or email you directly.
Proposal letter example
The proposal template below is written to show you what a generic proposal business letter might look like. Depending on your understanding of your prospect, you may wish to make it longer or shorter, or add greater detail to certain sections.
The letter should follow a traditional format and include the names and addresses of both you and your recipient in the letterhead.
It was a pleasure talking to you on Friday about the issues you are facing in regards to staff recruitment and training. You described your desire to improve recruitment practices and establish tested results-oriented staff onboarding practices.
At Generic Recruitment Company, we have over twenty years of experience providing recruitment services to enterprises like the one you represent. Our team has specific experience in your particular field, having worked with Company A and Company B.
In this letter, I’d like to briefly describe how Generic Recruitment Company will provide a comprehensive solution for your problem, and the objectives we would achieve.
Our overall goal will be to reduce the total amount of resources – staff time and overall expenditure – spent on recruitment by XX% while maintaining current results. We will boost new staff productivity over the first XX months of employment by XX% by improving staff training processes.
There are a number of intermediary objectives we would meet to achieve this:
- A review of current hiring and training practices.
- Creation of testing infrastructure and formulation of viable KPIs.
- A testing and implementation period to identify possible positive changes.
- Longer-term analysis and optimization of new processes over several months.
Evaluation and reporting
You will receive a monthly report which will cover all of the important KPIs. Your main point-of-contact will be the team leader. Every quarter, you will be invited to attend a presentation explaining testing outcomes, positive changes, and general progress towards the project’s objectives.
As previously discussed, the approximate cost of the project is $10,000 paid in quarterly installments over the course of 12 months. This payment plan is, of course, flexible and open to discussion.
If you would like to go ahead with the project, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I have included my contact details below. If you are happy to get going straight away, simply sign below.
Have you considered a proposal software?
One of the easiest ways to streamline your proposal creation workflow, whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, is to use software like PandaDoc.
Not only can you work from a template based on the structure outlined above, but you can also take advantage of collaboration tools, automation features, and drag-and-drop proposal elements like electronic signatures and payment options.
If you would like to give PandaDoc a test-drive and see exactly what it can do for your proposal letters, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial.