Close up of a letter
Close up of a letter

A proposal differs from a report in that it is a selling document, which should persuade readers to commit to whatever you are proposing. You could use an internal proposal, for example, to argue for extra company investment in computers or staff.

Researching A Proposal

To be successful, projects must be consistent with the overall aims of an organization. Before you write a proposal, research whether and how it fits into the wider scheme of the organization.

When planning your research:

  • Find out how the proposal would fit company strategy, and if there any conflicting relevant activities that are either underway or planned for the future;
  • Find out which aspect (such as finances, human resources, and legal implications) must be taken into account, and what repercussions these might possibly have for the organization;
  • Ask those in a position to make decisions what objective they would like to achieve in the form of the short – term, medium-term, and long-term results;
  • Gather together all necessary information to support the proposal, in readiness to go on to the next stage: planning.

Planning A Proposal

Structure a proposal following the same basic format as a report. State the proposal in a summary at the beginning; use headings as you develop your argument; then repeat your main points in a conclusion at the end. Make your approach upbeat-your enthusiasm should convince others of your ability to deliver the proposed outcome. If any risk is involved, explain that you have already fully considered potential drawbacks, and concentrate on position benefits.

Questions To Ask Yourself

  • How much will the proposal cost, and who will be involved?
  • What will be the benefits – economic, marketing, quality – if the proposal is accepted?
  • How will the proposal be implemented?
  • Why is it being put forward at this time?
  • Why do you believe the proposed plan will succeed?

Following Up

When you distribute a proposal, make sure that the recipients know when and how you plan to follow it up, or whether you expect a written response. Whether the proposal is to colleagues within your company, or to an outside supplier or customer, it is useful to follow up with a meeting where the proposal can be discussed. If possible, make a presentation at the meeting using AV aids, since the more visual impact a proposal has, the greater its chances of success. Remember, though, that no matter how strong the presentation, it will not sell a definitely weak proposal.


  1. Enlist allies in preparing and lobbying for your proposal.
  2. Ask yourself honestly; why one proposal might fail another might succeed.
  3. Use soft-sell techniques to get your proposal accepted.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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