Do you want to write a compelling and convincing business proposal? Follow this ultimate guide to learn how to write a business proposal to close more deals and boost your business.
When you start a business, you constantly look for ways to expand your customer or client base. Your business is booming, and your products are doing great, but the only problem is the lack of ways to make your products and services reach the maximum number of clients.
Some businessmen or entrepreneurs might overlook this problem and consider it to be a progressive process that develops on its own with the passage of time. But the reality is just the opposite. Finding a large number of potential customers and clients for your business’s products and services is just as important as the business itself. And in some cases, it is even more critical because a business is nothing without customers or clients.
This is where a business proposal comes in. A good business proposal can connect your business to a wide range of clients. If written effectively, a business proposal can outline your business’ value and convince organizations to work with you. It can also make or break your way to having a potential client. If you write a great one, you will be able to get a client quickly. However, if you write a business proposal poorly, it might have an effect on your reputation and eventually result in losing potential clients.
So one might think, how to write a business proposal and what are the essential elements to keep in mind while writing one? If you know all the tips and techniques, writing a business proposal is pretty simple and straightforward. Follow this article to get answers to all your questions regarding a business proposal. Here, we will explain all the critical aspects and types of a business proposal, along with some tips and tricks to write an effective one. So, let’s dive right in.
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a formal document that the business owners prepare to present and outline their services and products to potential clients and organizations in order to secure a business agreement with them. It is used to outline the elements that make you and your services the best among your competitors. So generally, a business proposal aims to convince a client to buy your services and work with you.
A business proposal showcases your ability to persuade and communicate. You can make your business services or products look extraordinary or just average. It all depends on how effectively your business proposal is written. Generally, a business proposal will consist of what your business does, its products and services, and how your business can help your client. It can also sometimes include some of the previous work histories where you have worked with notable clients and organizations.
A business proposal is usually kept simple. You don’t need to complicate things for your proposal audience. If you put complex terms in your business proposal, your potential client may not be able to understand it; how will they decide to even work with you? So, you need to make your business proposal as easy and understandable as possible.
Purpose of a business proposal
The purpose of a business proposal is quite clear from its definition. A business proposal is like a sales pitch that aims to win a new client for a business and start a business relationship with new potential clients. The purpose is to find clients who will buy your business’ products and services. Only the clients of your particular market are targeted.
Since there are a lot of service providers in every field, the purpose of your business proposal is to differentiate from your competitors in an effective way. You must show your service values to your potential clients and how you are better than your competitors in the field. You can also provide an overview of how you can save your clients time and money if they decide to work with you.
The three Ps
Many elements are included in a business proposal, which will be described later in the article. But a great business proposal should always address the following three Ps:
You must include the current problem faced by your client in your business proposal. The problem to which your products and services can provide a solution must be clearly stated. This is a great way to get the client on good terms as he will get an idea that you are well aware of the problems he is facing and can provide a good solution for them. It increases a sense of credibility and trust between the client and seller.
When you have described the problem clearly, it is time to put forward the solution to that problem. You must tell in a practical way how your proposed services and products can successfully help the client overcome the problem. This is where you can convince or persuade them that your business products are the only way to solve their problems.
This is one of the most important elements of a business proposal. Apart from telling how your services are perfect for the client’s problems, you also need to tell them your pricing and charges. This makes a business proposal look professional since clients are not left hanging at the end about the price, and they don’t have to contact you just to ask for the pricing details.
Types of business proposals
Business proposals are of three types. Before starting to write a business proposal, you must be aware of these types so that you know which one suits you and your business the best. The three business proposal types are described below.
Formally solicited proposal
A formally solicited proposal is written when a client officially requests you to write a business proposal. In this case, you are well aware of the requirements put forth by your client and have all the information about him. This way, you can simply start with writing the business proposal and include all the requirements requested by the client.
To understand it better, here is an example. You are already in business with a specific company or organization, meaning they are a regular client. They already know what service they want to work with you next and want to finalize terms with you. For this purpose, they ask you to send a business proposal containing specific requirements. In that case, you must respond to their request with a business proposal containing all the required details. This proposal is a formally solicited proposal.
Informally solicited proposal
Unlike formally solicited proposals, informally solicited proposals are written without any official request from the client or organization. However, a potential buyer is interested in your services and products and asks for a proposal to evaluate the value you can provide them. This request is made unofficially and informally; that is why this kind of proposal is called an informally solicited proposal.
Since this type of proposal is not officially requested, the client does not provide many details about the proposal requirements. So you have a lot of research to do on your own. For example, if a new company or client discovers your business, they get interested in your services and start chatting in order to get to know more about you. Out of this informal conversation, they ask you to send some company document or business proposal that describes your services the best. Unlike a formally solicited proposal, you are not obliged to complete this request, like you may or may not choose to send your business proposal to them.
As the name suggests, unsolicited proposals are not requested, either formally or informally. An unsolicited proposal is a general business proposal that is written to provide a general overview of your business and products, irrespective of any certain client or company requirements.
But if you wish to write for a specific client, you can do the research to identify their problems and pain points. You can then personalize or customize your business proposal accordingly.
Solicited proposal important terms
There are many important terms associated with a solicited business proposal according to the type of requests made by the client.
Request For Information (RFI)
RFI refers to the request made by the clients in order to get more information about your business. This is mainly done for discovery purposes, e.g., to compare products or services, etc.
Request For Proposal (RFP)
RFP refers to a detailed formal document that officially requests a business proposal from a buyer or business. This term is associated with the formally solicited proposal since it includes a formal request. An RFP document contains all the requirements of the client as well as the instructions for organizing and presenting the business proposal.
Request For Quotation (RFQ)
RFI is used when the buyer needs information about certain products or services, their availability, delivery time, or other details. Proposals sent as a result of an RFQ are generally short and brief and contain the exact information required.
How to write a business proposal?
Coming towards our main topic of discussion, how to write a business proposal? Many business people or entrepreneurs have no idea, at the start, about how to write an effective business proposal and get new clients. This can go very wrong with their business. So, it is important to know how to write a good and attractive business proposal.
There are only a few simple elements you need to know for this purpose. But before beginning to write a business proposal, you must do your research about the specific clients. If the client has sent you an RFP, then you need to read it carefully in order to know what they want. Next, you can either start composing your business proposal yourself or use a template. There are many free business proposal templates available on the internet.
But in case you want to write a business proposal from scratch, you need to know some important elements and steps generally included in writing a business proposal.
Start with a title
A good business proposal always includes an attractive and professional title page. The title page will contain a basic introduction; your name, your company’s name, the date on which the proposal was submitted, and the name of the client or organization that will be receiving your business proposal. You can also add any additional information like email, phone number, address, logo, etc.
Make sure to include an aesthetic sense in your title page so that it is not old-fashioned and follows the current standards of the specific market.
Create a table of contents
Your business’s services and products are great, but if your business proposal is not easily readable and accessible, the client will show no interest whatsoever, and the chances are that you may lose your client overall. That’s why you need to make your business proposal as simple and accessible as possible. This is where a table of contents comes in.
If your business proposal spans multiple pages, it is a general exercise to include a table of contents. A table of contents is an important part of a winning business proposal. It not only makes your proposal more accessible and scannable but also provides a general overview to the client on what’s included in your business proposal.
It is most probable that the organizations or clients you are sending your business proposal to are busy people, and they do not have time to go through your entire document right away. Sending a digital business proposal that contains a clickable table of contents can help them jump to their most desirable part and skip the rest for later. This makes it easy for them to read and navigate, and also to have a lasting impression on your business proposal.
Write a comprehensive executive summary
The next step is to write a comprehensive executive summary that effectively outlines your business’s value. It is a section where you describe who you are, what you do, why you are sending the proposal, and which solution will be a perfect match for the client. The executive summary also puts emphasis on why you are the best option and what makes you outshine your competitors.
As the name indicates, an executive summary summarizes your entire business proposal. It must convey how you can help the client even if they don’t get to read the whole proposal. In short, it must tell what your business does as a whole and how it can serve the client’s needs.
State the problem statement
After the executive summary, the next section is for the problem statement. This is where you point out the problem faced by the prospective client. It helps them to know that you are well aware of their situation and can handle it well eventually because knowing the problem already solved half of the problem.
For this purpose, you need to do research about the client’s problems and state them in a clear and understandable way. Also, provide extra information that the client may not be aware of regarding that certain problem.
Describe your proposed solution
When you are done stating the problem statement, you’re all set to propose an effective solution to that problem. You need to put forward a strategy or solution that can effectively address the problem statement described in the previous section. Also, you must make sure that the solution is according to the client’s exact needs. This helps to incorporate a feeling of satisfaction into the client, and he will be more inclined to work with you for long terms.
You must spare no details about the solutions you have proposed; let the client know about the deliverables you will provide, the techniques you will incorporate, and the estimated timeframe for your services.
Share your qualifications
Are you qualified enough to solve the prospective client’s problems? Will you be able to deliver an effective solution? Why should the client trust you with their work? This is the section to answer all such questions.
When you say you can solve a problem, you must also let them know that you are competent enough to do that. In this section, you can show them why you are the best fit for the job. Show them your and your team’s qualifications and put forward your business’s success stories. You can also mention any awards or achievements that you have received in the past.
Include pricing details
You can include the pricing details or budget for your services or products to make it more time-saving for both yourself and the client. The pricing option is not limited to one fixed budget; you can make it more flexible by adding multiple pricing options. But you need to be careful since overpricing can put a wrong impression on clients, and underpricing can prove to be uneconomical for you in the future.
Using a pricing table, you can include pricing for different products or services. If the work contains several deliverables, you can price each deliverable separately to make it easy for the client.
Share a timeline
A timeline is the most important thing for a project. You don’t want to leave your client hanging about the timeframe in which you can complete their work. That’s why you must present a complete timeline for the project. If there are multiple deliverables included in the work, you must state the timeline for each deliverable.
For this purpose, you can make use of a roadmap or a flow chart. A timeline infographic is also a good option if it is a long project.
Mention the terms and conditions
This is where you wrap up your proposal and summarize everything that you have promised to deliver. Also, mention the entire timeline from the start to the end of the project, and include the payment methods and schedule as well. This section is basically a summary or outline of everything included in the proposal; what you’re going to do for the client, how long will that take, and how much will you charge for your services.
Before sending in the proposal, make sure to double-check your terms and conditions with your own team. This section is where all the legal matters reside, so make sure your terms and conditions are clear and to the point.
Add an acceptance section
When you are done with all the above-described steps and sections, it is time to add the last but most important part of your business proposal, the acceptance section. The prospective client has reviewed your business proposal and is now ready to accept all your terms and conditions.
For this purpose, you need to add an acceptance section at the end of the proposal to include all the necessary signatures. This is where you and your client can sign the proposal and agree to the partnership officially. Another important thing to add is the contact information. Make sure you have added all your contact details in your business proposal so that your client can get back to you as soon as possible. It also helps in case of any queries or discussion.
Hope this article explained well how to write a business proposal effectively and get your business spotted by potential clients. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal. However, some tips and tricks can make your business stand out from the rest and increase the chances of getting a new client.
While writing a business proposal, you must keep in mind that it is all about understanding your clients and identifying their pain points. Your business proposal should be good enough to convince them that you are the only one who can alleviate those pain points successfully. And this article has explored how you can do that.
Now that you know all the tips and tricks to write an effective proposal, it’s time to get started. Instead of persuading clients through boasting yourself, let your business proposal do all the magic. Start writing your own business proposals to attract more clients and grow your business manifolds.