A business proposal can either make or break your chances of gaining a new client. If you write a great one, you'll almost certainly get their business. If you write a bad one, you might lose out—even if you provide the best service available. So, what is a business proposal? How to write a business proposal? What is the correct format? What information do you need to include? While it depends on your industry and selling a product or service, writing a business proposal is fairly simple. We'll answer all of those questions and more throughout this business proposal guide.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a formal document created by a company and delivered to a prospect to secure a business agreement. It's a common misunderstanding that business proposals and business plans are interchangeable. Instead of selling your company, the proposal's goal is to sell your product or service. Rather than assisting you in your search for investors to fund your business, a proposal assists you in your search for new customers.
Business Proposal Types
Unsolicited and solicited business proposals are the two types.
- Unsolicited Business Proposals - To gain a potential customer's business, you approach them with a proposal even if they haven't requested one.
- Solicited Business Proposals - A prospective client requests unsolicited business proposals.
The other organization requests a proposal with an RFP(request for proposal) in a solicited business proposal. When a company needs a problem solved, it invites other businesses to submit proposals outlining how to solve it. The steps to create your proposal are the same, whether it is solicited or unsolicited. Make sure it contains three main points: a statement of the organization's problem, a proposed solution, and pricing information.
How to Write an Effective Business Proposal?
You must understand the business for which you are writing the proposal before you begin writing it. If they've sent you an RFP, make sure you thoroughly read it, so you understand precisely what they're looking for. It can also be beneficial to have an initial call or meeting with the new client to ensure you fully understand the problem they're attempting to solve and their goals. After completing your research, you can start writing your business proposal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, but let's look at some common elements.
1. Begin by Creating a Title Page
Here, you must convey some basic information. Introduce yourself and your company. Include your name, the name of your company, the date you submitted the proposal, and the name of the client or individual to whom you're submitting the business proposal. Your title page should strike a balance between engagement and professionalism. It sets the tone, so make sure yours is sleek, aesthetically pleasing, and not too "out there."
2. Put Together a Table of Contents
A good user experience is helpful in almost any context, including business proposals. You must make things as simple and accessible to the people on the other side of your proposal as possible. Create a table of contents as the first step. A table of contents will inform your prospective client about the topics covered in the business proposal. If you're sending your proposal electronically, it's a good idea to include a clickable table of contents that will take you to the various sections of your proposal for easy reading and navigation.
3. Provide an Executive Summary to Explain Your "Why"
The executive summary explains why you're submitting the proposal and why your solution is the best fit for the prospective client. The key here is specificity — why are you the best option for them. Your executive summary, like a value proposition, outlines the benefits of your company's products or services and how they can solve your potential client's problem. Even if they don't read the entire business proposal, the prospect should have a good idea of how you can help them after reading your executive summary.
4. Describe the Issue or Requirement
This is the section in which you summarise the problem that the potential client is facing. It allows you to demonstrate that you understand their needs and their problem with assistance. The importance of research, critical thinking, and extra thought cannot be overstated. You must complete your homework. Examine the specific issues your client is dealing with and how you can resolve them. Then, persuasively frame them in a way that prepares you for the next step.
5. Make a Solution / Suggestion
This section proposes a solution to the problem. As in the previous one, you must emphasize specificity and personalization in this step. Make sure your proposed solution is tailored to the client's requirements, so they know you've created this proposal just for them. Tell them what deliverables you'll provide, how you'll provide them, and when they can expect them.
6. Explain Your Credentials
Are you capable of resolving this prospect's issue? Why should they believe you? Explain why you are the best candidate for the job in this section. Include case studies of client success stories and any relevant awards or accreditations to strengthen your authority.
7. Provide Pricing Alternatives
Image is taken from Strikingly user’s website
Pricing can be tricky because you don't want to under-or over-price your product. If you want to give the prospect a few pricing options based on their budget, include an optional fee table. Some business proposal software includes responsive pricing tables, allowing clients to select the products or services they want and adjust the price automatically.
8. Make Your Terms and Conditions Clear
Image is taken from Strikingly
This is where you get specific about the project's timeline, pricing, and payment schedules. It is essentially a summary of what you and the client agree to if they accept your proposal. Before submitting the proposal to the client, ensure that you have discussed the terms and conditions with your legal team.
9. Provide a Space for Signatures to Document the Agreement
Include a signature box for the client to sign and clarify what they agree to when they do so. This is also an opportunity to include a prompt for the prospect to contact you if they have any unanswered questions that you can answer.
Business Proposal Tips
When writing an effective business proposal, there is a lot to consider. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
∙ Begin with a Rough Outline
If you want to write a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to know what you want to accomplish with it. So, before you start writing, sketch out the major sections of your business proposal and the relevant information you wish to include. This will keep you focused and your message intact as you write.
∙ Include Data and Graphics
You want your business proposal to catch your prospect's attention and set you apart from the other proposals they've received. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to include hard, quantitative data emphasizing your company's value.
∙ Include Social Proof
Image is taken from Strikingly
Adding social proof, like the previous point, adds credibility to your proposal. You can only go so far when personally extolling the virtues of your company. Prospects are dubious. In many, if not most, cases, they are unlikely to take you at your word. They are more likely to trust their peers and fellow customers than someone attempting to win their business. As a result, elements such as customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.
∙ Include a Video in Your Proposal
If you create an online proposal instead of a document or PDF, you can include multimedia elements to improve the proposal experience. They have the potential to enrich and engage your document. Extras like this can make an impression — especially on prospects who are visual or auditory communicators — whether you include it at the beginning as an introduction to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts of your proposal or in the project breakdown.
∙ Include a Call to Action
Image is taken from Strikingly user’s website
Prospects require guidance. The best proposal in the world will only get you so far if the next steps are not clearly defined. That is why, after reading your proposal, you must ensure that the reader knows what to do next. A clear call to action is the best way to get there. Define and highlight exactly what they should do in response to the interest generated by your business proposal. Without it, you risk leaving your reader in the dark.
Strikingly's goal is to provide comfortable solutions for both service providers and clients. We want to make sure you have the best experience possible when creating a business proposal on our platform. You can put your business proposal into action by creating a website with Strikingly.
One of the best free website services for making it easier to create a website is Strikingly. It has an easy-to-use website editor and an integrated website platform, so you can have your site up and running in as little as 30 minutes. This website builder comes with a plethora of modern and mobile-responsive themes appropriate for virtually any topic or industry area you choose to write about. The text editor is straightforward to use. You have to start typing your content, add images and other graphics, and the platform will handle all of the formatting and heavy lifting. It's a great solution for corporate websites that want to blog for content marketing and personal portfolio websites.
Strikingly can help you optimize your website for search engines. You can optimize your blog in various ways, such as creating a good title page, writing relevant meta descriptions, and explaining every image you use in your site's content.
The most important thing to remember when writing a business proposal is to think like your client. If you can put yourself in their shoes, you'll be able to explain why your company is the best fit for the job and anticipate any questions they might have along the way. This is the million-dollar question with no answer for the business proposal sample format. When you asked your teacher how long an essay should be in school, they'd say, "as long as it takes to answer the question."
The same is true for your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the project's scope, and the client's detail and element specifications. That being said, the more concise your initial proposal and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch to clients. Begin by using the business proposal sample format above as a guideline, and you'll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and gaining new clients.