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Letter-style proposals.

Any size CPA firm can use a letter format for proposals to inform prospective clients about the firm's capabilities. A hybrid alternative to a one-page fee sheet or a lengthy, bound proposal document, letter-style proposals use the friendly tone of a personal letter and are formatted on firm stationery.

Here are some general rules to follow in preparing such proposals:
Be brief and concise.
* Use short, simple sentences of no more than 12 to 14 words.
* Use short paragraphs, six to eight sentences maximum.
Use active, not passive, verbs.
Adopt a conversational tone.
Limit the,use of accounting jargon.
Organize your thoughts to make sure you
* Discuss important issues early in the document.
* Keep extraneous information separate or omit it.
* Write a convincing summary or closing.

Exhibit an understanding of the client's problems, needs
 and concerns.
Present a sensible work plan.
Propose competitive but commensurate fees.
Ask for the business.

Make sure the pages and text layout flow smoothly.
Use clear, easy-to-read typefaces (two fonts at most).
Make sparing use of words in all capital letters.
Format text ragged right.
Package the letter attractively in a store-bought or custom
 designed folder with a business card slit.
Use bullets to highlight key points.
Number pages if there are more than two.
Use a laser printer and your corporate stationery or good
 quality bond paper.

Emphasize problem-solving skills in specific areas.
Have the letter proofread by more than one person.

GARY E. LOFSTROM is president of Lofstrom & Co. Marketing Communications in Kansas City, Missouri. This checklist is adapted from a presentation made at the 1996 American Institute of CPAs Practitioners Symposium in Las Vegas.
COPYRIGHT 1996 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Nov 1, 1996
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