Before writing your business proposal cover letter let’s look at how it relates to the rest of your proposal.
What’s the role of the proposal cover letter?
Business proposal letter writing is about enticing recipient to read the proposal – or at least to read the Executive Summary and, even if they fail to read no more than the cover letter, to provide enough information to position yours as a strong solution to their requirements.
In turn, the purpose of the Executive Summary is really to entice the reader to read the other sections of your proposal so that they can see all of the detailed reasons why your solution to their requirements is superior to all others – and, again if they don’t do read the entire proposal, to position yours as a strong solution to their requirements.
Finally, you could also say that the purpose of the main sections of the proposal are to direct to the Appendices section those readers who must have ‘proof’ that all you say in support of your proposed solution is true.
That being the case you can see that there must be a clear relationship between the messages in the business proposal cover letter, the Executive Summary, the main proposal sections, and the proof material in the Appendices section – they are all connected by a common thread: the Requirements-Solution-Benefits-Costs-Proof Winning Proposal Model.
Figure 1: Proposal Pyramid – how it all hangs together
Where does the proposal cover letter fit in?
The figure above graphically illustrates the relationship between these key proposal elements – at each level the relevant document must be written using the Winning proposal model so that the same selling oriented dialogue is established with readers regardless of little or much they read. The message at each level is precisely the same – but as you travel from the business proposal cover letter down through the Executive Summary and onwards through the proposal body you get that message in greater detail. The result is a coherent selling dialogue with all readers – regardless how much or little they read of your overall proposal ‘package’.
The reality is that there is the distinct possibility that some readers will only ever read the business proposal cover letter; others will read the cover letter and be drawn into the Executive Summary; still others will be enticed into the greater detail of the main sections of the proposal; and finally a small number of others, likely your more technical readers, will dip into the Appendices.
What is clear is that business proposal letters, Executive Summaries, main proposal sections and Appendices must all be inedependently capable of selling the greater merits of your proposed solution – and the only difference between these elements of your proposal will be the level of detail you can provide in the space available to you.