As a small business owner or manager, creating a strong business proposal is integral to securing new sales or business deals with other companies and clients. Having a document that prospective clients can't turn down will guide your company toward success.
How do you write an effective business proposal? There are many elements to include in this important, focused sales document. This article will walk you through how to create a business proposal, which sections to include, and why they matter.
What Is a Business Proposal?
If you want to lead your business toward success, you need a steady stream of new sales coming in. But how do you land these sales contracts and new business? A well-crafted proposal will help you win over new clients.
Your business proposal is a document designed to sway prospective clients to purchase your goods or services. It should walk clients through what you have to offer and why it would benefit them.
It's also important to remember that your business proposal isn't the same as your business plan, a document that outlines how your entire company operates, how it's funded, and which services and products it offers. Typically, business plans are used by startups when seeking investment opportunities.
While a business proposal is closely related to a business plan — some sections might overlap — it's a separate document that serves as more of a call to action for buyers than an overview of who you are. It should convince them of the worthiness of a specific project or product offered by your business through clear, concise messaging and fact-based information.
Why Use a Business Proposal?
Whether you're a business-to-business (B2B) company offering specific services or you're looking to sell products, a winning business proposal will seal the deal. It should explain to prospective clients why they should spend their money on your services or products.
It's more involved than a sales pitch, though. Your business proposal should show that you have an in-depth understanding of a specific issue faced by your prospective clients and explain how your company has the right solution for them. Organizing this information into one document makes it easy for your sales team to convert leads to sales.
In some scenarios, such as when you're responding to a request for proposals (RFP), a specific project proposal will be a requirement of your RFP submission.
How to Write a Business Proposal
A detailed business proposal takes time and careful planning to write. It can be overwhelming; proposal writing isn't easy, especially when you realize the importance of such a document. We'll walk you through creating your business proposal step by step in this section.
It's important to remember that the steps and sections included in the structure of your business proposal might vary based on personal preferences and your particular field. Thus, the formatting of each company's business proposal might look a little different. Solicited proposals might come with specific requirements from a client and you'll want to be aware of what sections to include in unsolicited business proposals.
Our how-to guide will get you started on creating your own business proposal and direct you on the key elements to include. For additional guidance, use proposal examples written by other companies as a business proposal template or invest in business proposal software.
Title Page and Table of Contents
Your title page, sometimes called your cover page, should include the most basic information about your company and your project, product, or service. This includes your business name, contact information, company logo, and a title for your proposal, as well as the client's name, their contact information, and the date. Your team and client should be able to glance at this title page and immediately understand what the proposal is for and the parties involved.
Don't forget to include a table of contents, as well. It will come in handy as your clients and sales team navigate your business proposal. Your table of contents lets clients know what information is included in your proposal and where they can find it. If you're sending your proposal digitally, you can even include links in your table of contents so clients can immediately click through to the sections they need.
Rather than diving directly into your proposal, it's advisable that you include an introductory cover letter. This section should be friendly, engaging, and free of industry jargon as you provide prospective clients and decision-makers with a general overview of your company and why you stand out in your field.
Your executive summary is an outline of your proposal that comes at the start of your document. It should summarize everything within your proposal and what you're trying to sell your clients. This section should be an interesting, engaging read that walks clients through the sales process and leaves them wanting to read your entire proposal and learn more about your services or products.
Your proposal and solution section is an opportunity to demonstrate that you truly understand the potential client's needs and challenges, as well as how your company might be able to rise to the occasion. Your proposed solution should address these pain points and explain how you'll solve the client's problems.
Your proposal should also include the full scope of work you intend to offer and all the necessary information they might want to make an informed decision. For this section to be truly effective, you should anticipate any questions or concerns clients might have and address them head-on.
"About Us" Section
While you provided a brief look at who your company is in your cover letter, your "about us" section is a space to dive deep into your unique story and mission. Run through your company's history, including important milestones. You want potential customers to have a clear understanding of who you are as a business and get to know team members they could be working with.
Testimonials/Social Proof Section
Testimonials from current or former clients are an effective way to sell a new client on your services or products. According to studies, 72% of customers say reading positive reviews, real-life case studies, and testimonials can increase their trust in a business that they're just getting to know. Make an impact with your business proposal by including comments from clients you've already worked with and success stories for other businesses.
Don't beat around the bush. Leave potential clients with accurate pricing for your products or services. Use a pricing table to clearly convey and compare prices for different plans and products that you offer.
Potential clients need to have this information at their fingertips as they decide whether they'd like to work with your company. By leaving this information out, it could drag out conversations and take longer to close a deal.
Call to Action
End your business proposal document with a compelling call to action (CTA) and leave your potential clients ready to work with you and your business. You could leave them with a very obvious CTA, such as asking them to sign and accept an agreement at the end of your proposal or compelling them to place a follow-up phone call to a specific team or individual to begin the process of working together. Explaining what happens next will keep you moving toward closing a deal.
Terms and Conditions Section
Include a separate page of terms and conditions for prospective clients to review. If they sign your proposal after reading it, that's an acknowledgment of your terms and conditions, such as a payment schedule and time frame for deliverables.
Effectively Manage Your Business Finances With Skynova
Small business owners can rely on Skynova's all-in-one invoicing and accounting software to track and manage their company's finances accurately and effectively. Whether you've landed a new client, signed a contract for a sale, or extended services to an existing customer, our centralized hub makes bookkeeping a breeze.
Generate the documents you need — including invoices, purchase orders, estimates and bids, packing slips, and receipts — to keep accurate records of all your business activities. Automatically create important financial reports like income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for a big-picture view of your income and expenses. These reports provide a full picture of your company's financial health.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines on creating a business proposal and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with experts to ensure that you're meeting business standards.