Before writing your business proposal, it’s crucial you understand the company. If they’ve sent you an RFP, make sure you read it carefully, so you know exactly what they want. It can also be helpful to have an initial call or meeting with the new client to ensure you fully understand the problem they’re trying to solve and their objectives.
How to Write a Business Proposal in 2022 (the A-Z Guide)
You just finished an amazing meeting with a client, they seem ready to pull the trigger and excited to work with you. Then they utter the following sentence:
As a business owner or salesperson, that’s the best thing you’ll hear all day. Until you get back to the office and realize you actually have to write it. This guide will give you a system and guidelines on how to write a successful business proposal and make that process super easy and simple every time.
Writing a business proposal is actually not that fun. In fact, most business owners absolutely hate this task. Writing a proposal for a company is not easy, but there is a much better method.
Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):
An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.
To design a business proposal template that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points. Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.
Include a one-liner about your company, short background information about how your company came to be, and a brief overview of what makes your company better than the rest.
Cover letters don’t have run on to the point of exhaustion. They can be simple, short, and sweet. In this example, the text is just over 100 words, but you could make it even easier to read by using bullet points.
Our methods and procedures are based on extensive analysis, an intense study of social media trends, and the application of specifics unique to [Client.Company].
Designing a business proposal is hard work, but you can make it much easier by starting from a template or by creating one of your own. In our example, we’re using custom variables like [Client.FirstName] to make it easy to modify proposal items that will change each time you send your content. If you’re building a proposal on your own, write your variables and keep track of them, then replace the text using the find/replace tool in your word processor.
This is critical throughout your proposal. In our research, we found that a proposal with media like photos and videos included is 34% more likely to close.
As you’re designing your proposal, don’t be afraid to add graphics and images to keep readers engaged. A winning business proposal is more than just black text on a white page.
As you’re designing your proposal, don’t be afraid to add graphics and images to keep readers engaged. A winning proposal is more than just black text on a white page.
Business Proposal Ideas
1. Start with an outline.
If you want to produce a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to have some idea of what you’re hoping to achieve with it. So before you dive into writing, outline the major sections of your business proposal and the pertinent information you want to include. This will ensure you stay focused and your message stays intact as you write.
2. Include data and visuals.
You want your business proposal to capture your prospect’s attention and help set you apart from any other ones they might have received. One of the best ways to do that is to include hard, quantitative data that helps stress the value of your business.
If you can find some relevant, compelling figures that highlight what you have to offer, you can establish authority and make yourself that much more convincing. It also helps to include visuals such as charts and graphs to enhance your proposal.
3. Add social proof.
Like the previous point, adding social proof lends your proposal another degree of credibility. You can only be so convincing when you’re personally talking up how great your business is.
Prospects are skeptical. In many — if not most — cases, they probably won’t take you at your word. They’ll likely trust peers and fellow customers more than someone trying to win their business. That’s why including elements like customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.
4. Incorporate video into your proposal.
If you’re creating an online proposal using document file formats like PDF, you can include multimedia elements to enhance the proposal experience. They can make your document richer and more engaging.
Whether you add video at the beginning as an intro to your proposal or in the project breakdown to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts, extras like this can make an impression. This works especially on prospects who are visual or auditory communicators.
How long should a business proposal be?
When it comes to the format of a business proposal, this is the million-dollar question without an answer. Remember in school, when you’d ask your teacher how long an essay should be, and they’d reply, “as long as it takes to answer the question.”
The same applies to your business proposal. It ultimately depends on your industry, the scope of the project, and the client’s specifications in terms of detail and elements included.
That being said, the tighter your initial proposal can be and the more directly you can make your point, the easier it will be to pitch it to clients. Start by following the business proposal format above as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning business proposal—and securing new clients.
Briana is a content and digital marketing specialist, editor, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, marketing, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter.