Do you have an idea that you believe could change things for the better?
Are you frustrated with mundane routines that are producing mediocre results? Do you know of a better way?
Submitting a proposal is a great way for you to showcase your ideas in ways that create value for your organization.
Whether it’s for a project, a process, or a different type of proposal, the goal of any proposal is to convince your readers that they should choose your proposed choice.
Learning how to write an effective proposal is a great business skill for you to master and it is a great opportunity for you to stand out amongst the crowd.
Yet with so much information daily bombarding organizational decision makers, how can you ensure that your next proposal gains the attention of the appropriate people and is heard? Below are three primary questions your next proposal should answer in order to be most effective:
1. What Is It? In order to write an effective proposal, you first must clearly state what it is that you are proposing. Is it a new process? Or is it simply a process improvement? Is it something that needs to begin? Or is it something that needs to end?
Often times, your proposal will describe a current problem or a potential opportunity and your proposed solutions to them. Any background information, such as how the problem or opportunity originated, is helpful and should also be included.
2. Why Should We? If you want your proposal to gain widespread buy-in, you must include reasons that you believe your proposed choice is ideal.
Why should your reader take YOUR word for it over someone else’s? What evidence will you present that can back up your credibility about what you are proposing?
In order to communicate persuasively, be sure to be as thorough as possible and dig deep. Do your homework around your topic before preparing your proposal. A lack of preparation is often easy to spot when evaluating proposals.
To drill down even further, two additional questions can help you describe your reasons why your recommendation should be chosen:
a. What Happens If We Do? Your reader needs to know what benefits they will gain if they accept your proposal. Sell them on the benefits of your recommendation. Be sure to describe any possible opportunities that may be capitalized on. To be most effective, you should quantify the benefits of your recommendation as much as possible. As you do, rely on data and facts over just your opinion. Hard data is most often always more persuasive than opinions alone.
b. What Happens If We Don’t? Every decision has risks involved in it. What is the risk to your reader if they say no? What will be lost or forfeited? Be as clear and as specific as possible as you describe the potential risks of saying no.
3. What Will It Take? Every decision has a cost. Be sure you outline the costs associated with your recommendation. What is the cost financially? What is the manpower required to pull it off? You’ll want to be sure that you’ve effectively communicated all of the necessary resources required to pull off your recommendation.
If your reader does not understand your proposal after they’ve read it, it’s because somewhere you have failed to communicate your idea to them effectively. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your proposal is interpreted and understood clearly—not the responsibility of your reader.
On the other hand, if your reader does understand your proposal but they disagree with your recommendation, a possible next step is to look for possible alternatives or to pursue incremental steps towards your proposed choice.
Don’t leave your organization’s progress up to chance. Take the initiative and submit your great ideas through effective proposals that drive your organization forward.
Know of any other factors to writing an effective proposal? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.
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