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What Is a Business Proposal and How to Write it?

A business proposal is a document that you write to a prospective client or partner to persuade them to buy a product or service you’re offering. In some cases, it can also be a document written to a potential investor. However, it is mostly used in B2B when one business wants to offer something to another business (for instance, supply of consumables or copywriting services).

What Are the Types and Necessary Elements of a Business Proposal?

A business proposal becomes necessary when you have to pitch any item of value to someone who might be interested in it. It’s an effort to win over the person who you send it to. The receiver may be anyone, as long as you can get in touch with them. Let’s see the three types of business proposals to understand how the document is generated.

Types

  • Formally solicited. A formally solicited business proposal is one that you create in response to an official request. It’s the type of proposal you send to a customer you’ve pitched to in person, who has now asked for a formal demonstration. Typically, you know the imperative requirements and information about your prospect in this scenario. All you have to do is send the proposal and await the client’s decision. When written well, this proposal type has a very high chance of being accepted.
  • Informally solicited. This proposal type is written to respond to an unofficial request for the document. An informally solicited business proposal stems from informal conversations. Consequently, it offers less information to tailor your proposal toward than the formally solicited. You’ll have to do extra research about the client to know what they would appreciate. As such, an excellently designed and researched science proposal may be enough to land you the grant. 
  • Unsolicited. The unsolicited business proposal is similar to a cold email or a marketing brochure. It tends to apply a one-size-fits-all formula to all prospects. Therefore, such a proposal barely meets the expectations of the potential buyer. Still, you can create a highly convincing unsolicited business proposal. What you should realize, though, is that you’ll have to research exhaustively. Such research helps to identify your prospect’s pain points and tailor your proposal to their preference. 

All three proposals may have different origins, but it’s noteworthy that they have similar structural elements. Let’s see what they are.

Structural Elements

A well-structured business proposal has an excellent chance of convincing a prospect. The following are fundamentals that your proposal has to address for the best results.

  • Vision clarification. A business proposal expresses the mission and purpose of your business. The former defines your company goals and objectives, and the latter states your reasons for creating the proposal. Is your business plan to obtain funds or to guide specific business operations? Every other aspect of your proposal is built upon these statements. Therefore, a good proposal informs your prospect of the precise direction your relationship will take. 
  • Evidence. Knowing how to do a business proposal that clarifies your vision proves that you’ve put careful and critical thought into the endeavor. With this, prospects tend to relax their apprehension since your proposal shows that you know what you’re doing. You’ll have higher chances of receiving approval using a business plan that serves as evidence. Furthermore, the document serves as a constant reminder of the deal’s original intent over time. 
  • Road map. The business proposal is describable as a detailed chart demonstration of everything relevant about your company goals, prospect’s goals, and how you’ll achieve both. It details the expenses and profits to expect and makes for an easy understanding of the venture. A good proposal gives time limits for its goals, such that prospects can determine how long to wait before each objective is accomplished. Any proposal without comprehensive details demonstrating how the business will run may be rejected. 
  • Risk Address. Your business proposal also includes the risks associated with your business and how they may influence the relationship you’re forming with the prospect. For instance, a company may be sued, demand levels may unreasonably change, the economy may become unaccommodating, and new regulations may hamper operations.

It’s necessary to realize the risks that competitors pose too. A valuable business proposal also highlights how you’ll minimize such risks. This may include insurance premiums and constant efforts to be right. 

Addressing these risks makes the buyer aware of what may go wrong and how you’ll prevent such from happening. However, it’s essential to be objective in this part of your proposal. You should not make empty assurances simply to comfort the prospect.

Having noted what your proposal should address, let’s see what it should contain to show vision, evidence, road map, and risk address.

Components for a Business Proposal: What Makes up a Good Proposal?

A business proposal that covers all relevant aspects increases your chances of success. Make sure your proposal contains the following points for the best results. 

  • Your identity. A good proposal should provide your name, position and your business name. But if it’s a large company then your detailed personal info isn’t necessary. You can briefly tell the readers about you, so they warm up to you in their subconscious. That’s because knowing your name and success story suggests to the client that you aren’t a stranger anymore. You can address this part by giving a synopsis of your career as a businessman citing the landmarks you’ve achieved. 
  • Company’s primary operation range. This is also an introductory part of your proposal that tells the prospect what they need to know about your company. Here, you can introduce the firm’s ethos and background story. Tell the prospect something that they can’t find out from a third party. People trust you more when they know your story. This is also why customers want to know how their favorite brand started and what the owner does. Omitting this part from your proposal is improper. 
  • Client’s needs. Your proposal has to include your partner’s needs. What challenge is the prospect facing? How has this problem affected the overall lifestyle of the client? Describe the problem in a way that the client is pressured to take measures. You can achieve this by starting with an overview of the problem and gradually usher in how it’s affected the prospect’s lifestyle or goal pursuit.
  • Your solution to their challenge. This is where you present the solution you’re offering to your client. You’ve identified your customer’s needs and have explained how it’s affecting them. Here, you have to proceed by offering the product you believe will solve their problem, but that’s not all. You should describe the advantage your solution has over products. Then, conclude by pointing out how their current shortcomings will positively improve should they accept your offer.
  • Implementation strategy. You’ve proposed your solution; how do you intend to implement it appropriately? Implementation, in this regard, includes breaking down the project into identifiable phases, task allocation, and the creation of a definitive timeline to follow. It’s crucial to be objective in this phase. This is where the client determines if your product can achieve the solution you claim it can.
  • Estimated resources to actualize projects. Often the final phase gives a guided estimation of the time, money, and employees that your solution will require. Answer questions on how long the customer will have to use your product before they see results. Demonstrate measurability by stating the typical period your solution takes to show traction. Then, estimate the likely costs of implementation judging by the size of the organization. All these are metrics you must have worked out during your research.

Omitting any of the components mentioned above makes your proposal less than ideal. Keep them in mind as we proceed to the step-by-step guide on how to write up a business proposal.

How to Write a Business Proposal: Steps to Do It Right

A business proposal has several steps that you should follow chronologically for the ideal result. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail:

  1. Start With the Title Page

    The first part of your business proposal has to contain basic information about you and your company. Giving a brief introduction about yourself is optional but information about what your business does is highly recommended. This section usually conveys your name, business name, proposal submission date, and the name of the prospect you’re submitting to. 
    Pay close attention to this page as it makes a first impression on a client and it will be easier for them to remember you. Also, it sets the tone and client expectations for the prospect. Therefore, it’s important to keep the tone sleek and appealing. Draw the reader in, so they’re eager to continue reading. 

  2. Form the Table of Contents 

    Your business proposals require a straightforward outlay that will make it easy for partners to access all document parts. This design begins with your table of contents. 
    Your table of contents has to provide a succinct outline of what the client will find in the proposal. The table of contents has to be meaningful and headings should briefly but accurately convey the information that will be discussed in the section. Also, consider using a clickable  table of contents in your business proposal which makes it easier to navigate. 

  3. Establish the Motive Behind Sending the Proposal (Executive Summary)

    Your next section details why you’re sending the proposal to the client and how you believe the solution you’re offering is beneficial for the prospect. Ensure you’re specific: point out why your product or company is the best in its niche. Clients get pitches and proposals from numerous businesses regularly, especially when they’re well-known in the space. So, why should they pick you?
    The executive summary provides the strengths to your product or service and highlights how they may help the client that other products cannot. Your prospect should know what you’re offering them, why you’re offering it, and why you believe your solution should be selected above all others. 
    A high-quality executive summary summarizes your entire proposal in one or two pages and satisfies the customer’s pain points. Also, the right proposal should offer exact answers for what the company does and how it can help the prospect. Avoid phrases like “pacesetters in our industry” if you don’t show how.

  4. Highlight the Client’s Pain Point

    If done right, this part of your proposal can prove to the client that you know their problem and understand their shortcomings. It’s your chance to show them that you care about them and that they’re not the lead generated out of random marketing strategies. As such, you have to be 100/100 here.
    It’s vital to research possible partners’ pain points individually for each business before creating this section. You should make a list of problems and do due diligence on who you’re pitching.

  5. Offer Your Solution

    Here’s the point where you introduce the solution to the client’s pain points. You’ll have to deliver a specific and personalized strategy, so the client realizes that you developed the solution specifically for them. Point out the expected results, methods you use, the resources it’ll cost the organization (time and money), and the expected delivery time. 
    Tailoring these areas to your prospect’s specific problems or issues increases your chances for success.

  6. Share Your Qualifications

    Your qualifications are mostly a form of assurance that you can be trusted. It’s a part of what proves to the client that your solution can indeed resolve their problem. 
    You know everything works out on white paper. To convince your prospect, you need to provide them with reasons. Share the wins you’ve recorded in the field. Highlight the companies you’ve worked with, putting in one or two prominent awards or accreditation you have. Add your customer feedback and other social proofs you may have. This will show the client that you’re experienced in the industry and trustworthy.

  7. Include Pricing Options

    It’s highly recommended to include your pricing options into your business proposal rather than make clients search and then write you back asking for prices. First of all, if a prospect receives enough of clearer proposals, they may just skip yours. Secondly, in most niches and industries it is considered impolite to force clients to ask for a quote if it can be included into the proposal. But of course, exceptions exist, and it’s up to you whether to include pricing, and how exactly. 
    A smart move is to research the industry thoroughly to adapt your offer to the most accepted format, especially in prices. 

  8. Define Terms and Conditions

    Here, you supply a detailed explanation of the project timeline, possible deadlines for the execution of work, individual stages, payment schedules, and other applicable parameters. The terms and conditions are essentially a clarification of the agreement between you and the client. Also specify the things that may terminate your cooperation. 

  9. Finalize With a Box for Relevant Signatures

    Your final step is to add a signature space wherein the client accepts your proposal. It’s necessary to point out the significance of signing in the box to your client. You may also slip in an opportunity for the prospect if there are questions that your sales proposal didn’t answer. 
    Writing a proposal is simple if you stick to the steps we’ve discussed. However, we realize that you may have certain challenges getting it right. Therefore, here are the various proposal templates and examples to better understand how to draft a business proposal.

Examples and Templates

Creating a business proposal may take significant effort, time and financial resources. However there are already made templates and examples that may help you in this. Templates provide a general format (i.e. education proposal, job proposal) that you may follow if you have to create similar proposals. The following are three common types of templates and where you can get them all.

  • General business proposal. A general business proposal is a document you create for all normal business proposals that you have to create. Typically, it contains three overarching parts: the statement of the problem, proposed solution, and pricing calculation. It’s generally sent to random prospects.
  • Request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is created when a client requests a proposal officially. This proposal is comprehensive and contains all sections in a general template, alongside terms and conditions, qualifications, signature box, and contact points. 
  • Business proposal template software. You may equally use a proposal template typically specific to a particular industry. Such samples are not common like the two others we’ve mentioned.

It’s obvious that templates are the best practices which successfully work. But services offering them tend to cost too much for comfort. Luckily, there’s a place where you can get all samples for free.

  • Avodocs. This is a service offering free legal documents for startups to ease their establishment. The company offers numerous document drafts, including a letter of intent, terms of use, fundraising, and external services agreement. Register at the site to start.

Avocados provides excellent proposal templates, but templates do only a part of the job. There are some rules to keep, and we’ll highlight them below.  

Common Errors to Avoid When Creating a Business Proposal

Market research and personalized solutions make up only half of an excellent business proposal. The final text you share with the client is very important too. Is it free of errors? 

That can be hard to tell unless you can identify the types of error we mean to begin with. The following are five standard loopholes to note when writing your proposal.

Boring and Text-heavy

A widely spread error of most proposals is that they contain too much text. The easier and faster your proposal can be read, the more chances it will be taken into account. The best proposals are crisp and precise. Consequently, you should pay attention to how it’s written.

So, here are practical tips to keep your text engaging and text-light to appeal to the reader. 

  • Avoid long sentences. Long sentences contain up to 20 words which you could break up. Some creators even join two different ideas in a sentence. Such moves bore and confuse the reader. Therefore, it’s best to write short sentences (7–11 words). They are simpler to understand.
  • Maintain a consistent design. Design involves the font, typography, color, and typeface of your doc. It’s as important as your text. A wrong design can confuse the reader too. Consequently, it’s paramount to be consistent with these elements. Don’t switch between text styles and fonts meaninglessly. 
  • Add visual representations. Visual content speaks better in fewer or no words. Therefore, it’s imperative to use them appropriately. Add relevant images, tables, graphs, infographics, and short videos to improve comprehension.
  • Remain interactive. All too often, writers fail to remember they’re writing for humans. They just go on and on without a break. To avoid sounding robotic, ask rhetorical questions, cite scenarios, and proffer solutions where necessary.

Lack of Social Proof

By their nature, people are social creatures and are used to getting together, no matter in the real or virtual world. That’s why society has a great influence both on you and on your clients. For the same reason, we are used to checking all the information on the Internet (i.e. read or watch reviews) before making important decisions. Therefore, clients now put sufficient time into reviews and ratings from previous users. Unlike before when buyers trust the salesman, they prefer to listen to other buyers to make their decision.

The same applies to your proposal. Failure to show that others accept you reduces the quality of your proposal.

Include social proof in your proposal to gain the prospect’s trust through:

  • Inclusion of testimonials. Testimonials prove that your previous partners were satisfied with the cooperation. This makes for a ground on which they may be partnering with you.
  • Narration of the process. Citing testimonials is an effective practice. And you can strengthen this with a narration of the case study. Tell an engaging story of how you and a client met. Define what they want and prove how you satisfied their needs. 
  • Relevant examples. Your testimonials have to be relevant. That’ll convince your client that you are equipped to tackle current developments and deeply understand what to do. So choose the most relevant examples close to the industry and business of a particular client. 

Leave the Room for Queries

It’s vital to know that your proposal may have grey areas, notwithstanding how you work on it. Therefore, it’s necessary to make provision for contacting you. Feedback is a helpful function of your business proposal as it is easier for clients to make the query resolution knowing how. 

To make feedback option effective stick to the following:

  • Incorporate feedback technologies. Digital proposal software now allows clients to reach you conveniently when reviewing your submission. This technology is super helpful, as it provides the chance to answer their questions immediately. Ensure to have a live chat option present if you’re using digital software. 
  • Handle queries as you should. Having a live chat provision in your proposal is far from enough. What matters more is how you respond to queries. People believe that they can tell a sham by asking questions to see the seller’s answers. Therefore, you need to have the right responses and appropriate approach to give them the final nudge. 

Inconsistent Content

Some proposals are written in a roughly-technical language, which may turn off the average reader. It’s high time you knew that jargon doesn’t make you appear knowledgeable. They make your proposal confusing, complicated, and strange to most people. In addition, some proposals violate grammatical rules. They contain typos, poor grammar, and incorrect terms. How do you expect your prospect to trust your help when your proposal is unreliable?

Some simple rules can help you achieve ideally consistent content:

  • Try to use short sentences, everyday words, and a dominant active voice.
  • Include linked statistics to prove your claims.
  • Try to add subtle CTA’s that lead the reader on to the subsequent sections.
  • Use writing tools like Hemingway and Grammarly for improved readability.
  • Ask a trusted copywriter to review your proposal.
  • Create a content library with the edited and final text to ensure prospects get the right information.

Skipping the Pricing Page

The investment page is also the pricing page. Some proposals don’t focus on this page to avoid being rejected. However, that may lead to underselling the product. While it’s smart not to clog the section with options, you can’t just cut it out either. 

  • The golden tip here is to present three pricing options. You have to clearly show which is the basic scheme, middle spot, and the premium package. Give the compelling features of each and leave the reader to make their preferred choice. 

Generally, writing a business or initiative proposal is a demanding and error-prone task. Fortunately, there are some infallible techniques to apply. These proven strategies ease the burden and make excellent proposal creation a routine. Keep these tricks in mind for softer landing:

  • Your best pieces can be kept to refurbish and reuse.
  • Templates can make the proposal creation process simpler and faster.
  • An expert review before sharing your proposals can make all the difference.
  • Personalized client information has to be updated to be ideal.
  • The process is more effective when it involves numerous professionals. This requires leaving marketing to another team.
  • It’s necessary for digital proposals to be accessible in numerous formats and on different devices. 
  • A consistent brand image plays a significant role in allaying clients’ fears.

Business Proposal Writing Services: Who Can You Hire?

You may prefer to outsource your proposal to an expert in some cases. This may be when your in-house team can’t deliver an impeccable solution or there are too many projects at hand or you don’t want to spend your time and effort. When this happens, you have to ensure you’re picking a good fit out of the numerous options on the market. Here’s what to consider.

Tips For Hiring a Proposal Consultant

  • Proposal expertise. Gaining expertise in proposal creation comes from years of experience in the field. Therefore, the member of a proposal management team isn’t necessarily excellent at the job. If you want excellence, you may have to settle for a manager who’s undertaken competitive and complicated proposal gigs. Check out the portfolio of the people on offer to find out who’s handled projects similar to yours successfully.
  • Domain experience. A proposal creator ought to understand the project at hand. Check for degrees relevant to the field, experience gained on the job, or experience acquired from working with similar industries. Whichever end the writer falls, what matters is that they have some domain experience.
  • Professional commitment. The commitment to the profession distinguishes between specialized proposal managers and those who are merely in the field to fill time. You can determine this commitment level by considering the developmental courses and training a creator has undergone. Participation in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals and similar industry orgs is a plus for any creator. 

Having identified what to look out for in your search, let’s see the platforms offering your proposal writing services.

Available Market Options

There are two categories of options available:

Freelancers

  • Upwork. Upwork is a platform that connects skilled freelancers with clients. Trust that you’ll find excellent proposal writers on the site with ease.
  • Fiverr. This is another high-standard freelancing platform to find excellent freelancers. Register to start hiring the best freelancers at the site.

Companies

  • MyPM. This is a full-range proposal management company that handles the development of business and government proposals. The firm’s main clients are federal contractors in different industries.
  • Optimal Thinking. OT is an excellent proposal writing service with a 92% win rate. The company has generated over $28 billion for clients over two decades. 

Cutting Out the Complexities: How Can You Find the Ideal Business Proposal Templates?

Would you like to cut out the numerous hassles involved in the proposal creation process? Imagine a device that presents a format anyone can follow to develop a responsive proposal. Unbelievable, right? That’s where templates come in!  

Templates are an excellent tool for proposal writing. Let’s see the benefits of ordering a template and how to order the right fit for your proposal easily. 

Benefits of Using Templates For Your Proposal

The following are possible reasons you may opt for a template for your proposal creation. 

Process simplification: A good template simplifies the proposal delivery process. It shows you the appropriate stories to tell and how to tell them. This prevents you from creating text-heavy or inconsistently written content.

Improved responsiveness. Using a template ensures that your content is ideally created. It helps to present your product properly, thereby increasing the chances of the customer accepting your offer.

More value for money. Creating your proposal using a template offers extra value for your cash. Templates cost cheaper than third-party consultants, whether freelancers or companies. In addition, a template avoids errors, which may occur if you outsource your project. 

The privileges of having a good template for your proposal are remarkable. Let’s see how to obtain these templates to explore these benefits.

How to Get the Right Proposal Templates for Your Project?

You can secure templates for your proposal from various template provision platforms , such as Avodocs.

  • Avodocs. This is a service offering free legal documents for startups to ease their establishment. The company offers numerous document drafts, including a letter of intent, terms of use, fundraising, and external services agreement. You (or anyone on your team) can create a more responsive and performance-driven business proposal with any of the products on offer at the website. 

Conclusion

A business proposal can make or break your chances when applying for a partnership of any kind. You can learn how to write a business proposal by identifying a client’s problems and offering personalized solutions to them. Note that you’ll have to take note of other regulations and common errors to achieve excellent results.

However, if you’d prefer an approach that eliminates the hassles of telling your story correctly, templates are an excellent alternative to opt for. Browse the exclusive collection at Avodocs for a start. 

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