A proposal is a suggestion or action plan, which is put to consideration by another party. Outside the corporate world, most common form of proposals are marriage proposals, which almost always involve rings, roses and extravagant engagement parties. In a corporate setting, the proposal stage is a more quiet setting, usually a sit-down meeting wherein an idea is presented by a person or group for discussion with potential or existing clients, investors or employers. Whether the proposal is meant for improvement or solution of an existing problem, or a new idea for deliberation, careful planning is needed to create them.
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Most proposals involve investments in resources such as time, energy and money; so it’s very important that a lot of thought is given into their creation. Since they take a while to make, proposal requests are usually given by the prospects beforehand to let interested applicants know that they are open to suggestions and plans. Formal request letters are time specific, so they almost always have a deadline either for a response or for the actual project hearing.
There are two categories of proposals, which are based on how much preparation is needed to pull it off:
A pre-proposal or white paper is usually requested by the companies or institutions if they want to see a brief summary of the actual proposal beforehand. It is a brief summary of what the project is all about, how the group plans to go about the project, where it will be held or where is the general vicinity of the program, what is required from the clients or audience and what are the projected start or end dates; it theoretically should not exceed the length of two letter-sized bond papers since it is merely a summary of the actual presentation to be set at a later date.
Sometimes, clients prefer to ask for a pre-proposal especially for projects that involve budgets, since they need an overview of whether or not the possible undertaking is needed. Due to the fact that lesser time is needed to make informal proposals, it is easier to request and, once approved, is usually an opening for a formal proposal request. White paper is necessary because it allows room for primary feedback, which allows the proposer to have more information on how to go about the proposal, which persons he or she needs to approach and what are the necessary preliminary documents or research to support the project.
A formal proposal is when an entire detailed project is laid out, usually through presentation or a series of presentations to significant persons. Depending on the degree of formality, the proponent usually prepares background about the company and people involved in the project, before delving into the actuality and specifics of the venture. The formal proposal is important, especially in a corporate setting, because it sets expectations (should the project be approved) and gives the clients more detailed information on the project as well as the proponents.
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Types of Formal Proposals
When it is the first time to do business with a certain corporation, institution or company, the proponents can expect that they have to introduce more than the project during a formal proposal. Their presentation should include background about their team, the industry or anything relevant that builds character reference in the minds of the client, other than the actual research-based objectives and other concepts.
A formal presentation takes more time to prepare than an informal one but with the right audience and primary research, it can garner the best results. Here are a few types of formal proposals, depending on function and other factors:
- Solicited or Response
A company usually sends out proposal request letters to potential individuals or groups that could accommodate or serve their needs. This type of formal proposal doesn’t need an in-depth and thorough background regarding the expertise of you and your colleagues because chances are, the clients were already aware of what you are capable of. There are a number of ways to make this kind of formal proposal, but perhaps the best way is to highlight why your company or proposal is better compared to others, since, unless explicitly stated, it is safe to assume that you are not the only one who got the request. The best way to know if you are the only recipient of a formal request letter is to check the CC at the bottom which states whether there are other recipients of the letter with the same content or not.
If the proposal was done because of initiative or voluntary drive and not because the person or group was requested, then it falls under the unsolicited formal category. This type of formal proposal has a huge risk involved because you are not sure if the client even needs or wants to participate in your project. Unlike the solicited type wherein the clients have already sent in a letter with a request to see your proposal, the unsolicited type is a gamble because the company has not even looked in your direction. The best way to create this kind of proposal is to first and foremost assure them that you are a reputable and trustworthy group or organization, and that you exclusively have what they really need.
- Renewal or Competing
This is a request for another or continued support for a current project that is about to finish, and, from most sponsors’ point of view, it has the same gravity as an unsolicited proposal.
- Continuation or Non-competing
This is a proposal for continuing a project for another or subsequent time within a previously approved period. Containing data of the previous and satisfactory works, a lot of these proposals get approved depending on success and availability of funding.
Supplemental proposals are requests to increasr financial support because the project needs to expand in scope. Usually due to unforeseen circumstances during the proposal stage, the supplement proposal addresses why a project needs to have increased funding and effort.
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Writing a Solicited Formal Proposal
The chances of succeeding the proposal stage are higher when the presentation was made due to a request for proposal, or RFP. Even if the letters were sent to several other companies, your group is optimistically one of the top choices and that is an advantage. Here are a few tips on how to write solicited formal proposals:
1. Read the request for proposal letter carefully.
Find out all the details that are needed in the project and highlight the necessary requirements, such as:
Make sure that your plan does not exceed the budget allotted by the client. If you offer solutions that are at least 10% less than what they expected to spend, then there is a good chance that your proposal will be accepted.
You cannot turn it in too early nor too late. You have to be on time, with an allowance of 1 hour before the presentation in order to have ample time to test for possible technical issues.
- Goal of project
Every project has an objective. Find out what your client wants to achieve or what problem they want to solve.
- Other specifics and characteristics
If they want certain formats or certain inclusions in the project then take note of all of those and include them in your would-be presentation. It shows that you have keen observation skills and they did not waste their time in sending you a letter.
2. Ask questions relevant to the study.
Research if they have employed other methods for the same function before and how they fared (Were they successful? Did they fail? If they were successful, why are they looking for new prospects? If they failed, what part of the process did they fail in? What could be done to make a better change?
When you are asking questions, you can opt to create it as a response to the RFP or you could conduct an interview with anyone in the company who could answer your queries. This is important because it could help you in creating a more in-depth and better proposal instead of potentially repeating something that a proponent previously presented to them.
3. Format your document
Some proposals need to be sent in by letter form before you are allowed to present to an audience. Create a rationale that is in-depth and easy to understand. Summarize your points so that they don’t get tired of reading your proposal but leave out enough detail for them to want to hear more about it in the actual meeting or presentation.
4. Always provide benefits
Most companies or business executives don’t want to know about the technical terms and details; they want to know why they need something and why it is important for them to have.
Proposals and presentations are exciting and challenging to do, especially when you have professionally-made samples and templates to guide you in the right direction. Develop your confidence by downloading one of the many forms available online to help you in reaching your goals.
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