How to Write an Impressive
Business Proposal to Prospective Clients
A business without customers is in trouble. No customers may mean your product or service doesn’t solve any real-world problems, but it may also mean you are not targeting the right audience or that your sales strategy is lacking.
This tends to happen with new entrepreneurs who may not have the vision of an experienced businessman or woman. But this doesn’t mean newcomers shouldn’t take leading positions - it just means they need access to tools that will help guide them.
This is why it’s essential to learn how to write a well-designed business proposal. Even if you don’t need it right away, it’s the perfect tool to teach you about creating a plan of action for your business and securing funding. Plus, as you get better at this, you’ll also be able to identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses, which will come in handy when looking for investors and supporters.
Overall, the skill to create a solid business proposal is essential for anyone who wants to step up their business game. And, to make things easier, we put together a comprehensive guide to how to write convincing business proposals for various types of clients.
What is a Business Proposal?
In a nutshell, a business proposal is a document that provides information about your company and its products or services, as well as how it intends to accomplish its goals. This document is often used in B2B relationships, and its main purpose is to highlight the benefits both parties would get if they were to enter a business deal.
The proposal needs to be tailored based on the type of deal you’re trying to make and should outline the key elements, such as:
The background of the company proposing the deal (in this case, your company)
The details of what you are proposing (how you plan on solving a problem the buyer is facing)
The benefits for both parties
A timeline from start to finish covering the actions you want to take
A budget (at least a rough one) to provide an idea as to how much the deal will cost
In most cases, a business proposal is written by the company that wants to make the deal, which is why tone and credibility are of utmost importance.
The tone needs to be optimistic but realistic, focused on solving a problem that’s bothering the potential customer. To get everything right on the first try, it’s best to do your research and make sure you understand what they want and why. You can do this by researching the company online, interviewing former collaborators, and contacting the company directly.
Your proposal’s credibility comes from citing reliable sources, such as industry leaders, reliable data, authoritative books, and more. Luckily, nowadays, you can use a tool to generate citations fast and cut down the time spent with documentation.
Writing a Business Proposal
As a rule of thumb, most business proposals include these sections:
- The cover or title page
- The executive summary
- The body of the proposal
- Terms and conditions
- The signatures page
Now, each element has its role in the grand scheme of things, but you want to make sure everything comes together in an easy-to-understand proposal. For this, it’s best to use a template (similar to what you’d use for writing a business case) in order to keep the same format and design throughout the entire document.
The Cover Page
The cover or title page includes information such as the name of your company, your contact information, and any other relevant contact information. This is also the first thing your prospective clients see, so look for a design that’s aesthetically appealing, professional, and engaging.
The Executive Summary
The executive summary is the “why” of your proposal - why you’re looking for a collaboration with this specific client and why your solution is the best for them. Be specific but try to keep it as short as possible. In most cases, it should be a one-page overview of your proposal and should also include any risks or limitations to your plan.
The Body of the Proposal
The body section contains all of the details on how you will achieve what you are proposing in detail. Here, you can go into more detail, but a concise and reader-friendly approach is always the best.
Think of the person reading your proposal - they’ve probably read several similar ones in the last couple of weeks, so you won’t convince anyone with long and heavy explanations. Keep your writing simple and easy to browse, and focus on the main elements such as your how-to plan, pricing and budgeting, qualifications, and more.
Conclusions, Terms & Conditions, and Signatures
The final section of the proposal is divided into three parts (conclusions, terms and conditions, and signatures) and should be a summary of what you’ve written. Create a briefing of your plan, touch on your qualifications, and make sure to highlight why you think your company is the best choice.
Also, don’t forget to end things on a note that invites conversation by providing your contact information for an easy follow-up (even though they’re also on the title page) and your availability.
The terms and conditions section is equally as important because it provides the other party with your baseline. Here, you should mention the timeline and payment schedules (among others).
Tip: It’s best to work with a legal representative to get the terms and conditions section right.
The last section is dedicated to the signature space and is designed to give the reader a chance to decide if they like your proposal. Keep it simple and use white space to make it stand out, but also make sure the reader remembers the main points before signing.
A successful business proposal is a combination of design and content. The design needs to be professional and elegant, without cluttering the visual aspect of the document, while the content (aka, the text of the proposal) must be easy to read and understand.
Plus, many business owners are accustomed to the standard structure of a business proposal, so as long as you follow it, they’ll know what to look for.
About the Author
Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.