Writing a business proposal offers a way to sell your services to new customers. You only get one chance to create a good first impression, so it’s important to craft your proposal with attention to every single detail. Here’s a closer look at how to write a business proposal that shows your company off to its best advantage.
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is different to a quote or estimate, which are documents discussing pricing. A proposal goes into greater depth, not only introducing your company but also the services it can provide. While business plans are more focused on raising capital for growth, business proposals are focused on selling products and services. It must convince the reader to become a customer rather than an investor.
Elements of a business plan
Naturally, you’ll need to tailor your business proposal ideas to suit the type of work you do. However, there are a few key elements of a business plan that apply to most industries, including the following:
Introduction to your business
Details about how you will solve the customer’s problem
Examples of past work
Terms and conditions
Call to action
Essentially, your business proposal takes the potential customer on a journey from start to finish. Using the elements above, you can show that you understand the client’s problem and that your business can provide a solution. You’ll clearly define the steps you will take, timelines, prices, and terms so that the client has all the details they need to make a decision.
Business proposal format
While you can format your proposal any way you like, here’s a loose structure to follow with a defined introduction, body, and conclusion. Between these sections, you’ll be able to cover all of the elements mentioned in the section above.
Following this type of traditional business proposal format helps provide an easy-to-follow summary:
Section 1: This should be an introduction to your company, core values, background, and what accomplishments you bring to the table that could benefit the client. You might write this up in a cover letter format as well, but no matter the format it’s best to keep your introduction to a single page.
Section 2: An executive summary for your proposal that sums up exactly why your business is right for the job. What is the key message that you wish to impart to your reader?
Section 3: This is the main body of your proposal that clearly lays out all the information a client would need regarding scheduling, pricing, and who’s who in your company. Go heavy on the infographics, charts, and visual aids to bring this section to life, as well as testimonials, reviews, and links to your past work.
Section 4: Finish off with a conclusion that summarizes again why your business is best for the project. This should be written up as a call to action that invites your client to click through to your business website or send you an email with additional queries.
Section 5: Finally, include an appendix section with all supporting documents or additional information your client might need. This could be where you place the testimonials and reviews, for example, rather than in the main body.
Top tips for writing a business proposal
What makes a successful business proposal stand out from the competition? If you want to make sure you land the deal, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Make sure your proposal meets the brief.
This is particularly important if you’re submitting a response to a request for a proposal. You should demonstrate, ideally right in the introduction, that your business has a clear understanding of the customer’s needs. There is a problem to be solved, and your business offers the solution. If your proposal doesn’t relate to the client’s problem, it will get tossed aside.
2. Make sure your pricing is clear.
Don’t be vague with the prices, hoping that your reader will be so enticed by your expertise that they’ll come ask in person. Clients often skim through dozens of proposals to find the best fit, and they’ll want to see a clear breakdown of prices for comparison. If you don’t include this crucial information, you may be overlooked.
3. Don’t neglect the title page.
This is the first thing a potential client will see, so you need to make sure it really grabs their attention and entices them to open the report. A strong title page should include all basic contact information as well as your company logo. It should fit into your overall brand with the right design and color scheme while remaining professional.
Most business and accounting software offers a selection of business proposal ideas to help with formatting and structure. It’s also helpful to sit down and brainstorm before you start writing your business proposal, so you’re sure of the message you wish to convey. With practice, writing proposals will become second nature.
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