Proposal letters are cover letters which are included with business proposals to introduce people to the nature of the proposal and the company making the proposal. Like other types of cover letters, proposal letters are designed to quickly acquaint the reader with necessary information, while also convincing the reader that the letter's author is the best choice for the job. In some cases, a proposal letter needs to follow a specific format and style, while in other cases, it may be more freeform in nature.
A typical proposal letter includes a brief discussion of the problem the proposal is meant to address, and an overview of the salient information in the proposal. Proposal letters usually include time and cost estimates along with a brief explanation of how the proposal will work. The proposal letter may also detail the experience, qualifications, and certifications of the person or company providing the proposal, and it can include company history and background information as well. Throughout, the document has a persuasive tone which is designed to encourage the reader to review the attached proposal materials.
There are a number of contexts in which a proposal letter may be written. When a company or agency puts out a request for proposal (RFP), people responding to the RFP usually write proposal letters with their submissions. An RFP usually includes proposal guidelines which will give people a good idea of what should be included in a proposal letter, ranging from the qualifications of the author to an estimate of the expenses which will be involved. Reference books which provide information about business correspondence often have several sample proposals so that readers can familiarize themselves with proposal writing before they need to formally write up a proposal.
Some proposal letters are unsolicited. Companies may use proposals to sell their products to potential new customers, because communicating by mail can be inexpensive and very cost effective. For example, a manufacturer of office software can send a mass mailing to numerous offices, and anticipate at least some interest from companies who will respond with orders or requests for more information. The unsolicited proposal letter tends to be more generic in nature so that it can be sent to numerous people.
It can be difficult to come up with a proposal template which can be used to respond to a request for proposal, because each request and each proposal can be very different. Typically a great deal of research is required to pull the proposal together, and the language must be specifically customized for the reader. However, it can help to assemble a basic outline which is used in writing proposals, to ensure that every necessary aspect of a proposal is fully covered. Businesses should also keep copies of old proposals and proposal letters, taking notes on the ones which are successful so that they can be used in the development of future proposals.