Heike Moeller September 24, 2021 Proposal
As you lay out your plan, try to keep in mind a couple of questions that your audience may not ask but will certainly be thinking: "What can we expect as a minimum outcome of your work?" and "What steps will you follow, and how will we know you (and we) are on target?"
The problem and the plan. The primary section of the proposal describes the problem or project as you see it. That bears repeating: State your understanding of the need and circumstances that prompted your submitting the proposal. Explain the rationale for action. That is, tell your audience what their problem is and why they need your expertise and assistance. Do not assume they know. Define the scope of the undertaking and the solutions and goals you intend to achieve, describing each in terms of discrete objectives.
More often than not, when you hand a group of people a printed proposal to follow as you make your presentation, someone is bound to turn immediately to the last page to check your cost estimate. Do not put it there. Because cost is only one element of any proposal-along with time, quality of work and materials, and benefits to be derived from the project-present it as such and put it into your plan where it most logically fits. If you choose to indicate individual item costs throughout the proposal, do not forget to include a recap page with complete tallies.
Unless every proposal that goes out of your office is carefully read before it leaves, there is the danger that gremlins will find their way into your document. Boilerplate that contains spaces for different insertions to be filled in as each new proposal is written is particularly accident prone. Failure to change just one ABC Widget Company before submitting a proposal to the XYZ Widget Company can destroy your entire presentation. Not only is it an embarrassing mark of carelessness, but it also may reveal far more about your business than you care to have known.
All is not lost, however. Obstructionists can be very useful during your presentation because they raise issues and objections that you can effectively respond to and neutralize-especially when you are prepared to do so. Without overplaying or pandering to a troublesome member of your audience, accept criticism appreciatively and graciously and build upon it, emphasizing the positive points you are presenting.
It is to your distinct advantage to follow all the instructions that are available, especially if you must submit your proposal by mail and will not have the opportunity to make a personal presentation. Standard form RFPs enable reviewers to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If a reader must hunt through your document in order to find a critical point, he or she may instead prefer to toss the document aside. After all, the reviewer may think, if this person ca not even follow our directions, how can we expect a satisfactory outcome from the project?
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