Learn the best tips and tricks to write highly-performing business proposals that help you sell products or services to many clients.
An effective business proposal has always been one of the critical factors in winning a client or a project. Traditional businesses invested a lot in creating compelling documents for projects or sales proposals to win customers.
Now that most businesses have gone online, the tradition is still there. The only change is you use digital documents or document collaboration apps to create business proposals.
Enterprises can afford to invest money in a specialized business documents team. But if you are from a small or medium business, you may not be able to afford that. Instead, you can learn business proposal writing quickly and create meaningful and complete proposal documents for the next project.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a formal document that explains your products, services, expertise, and portfolio. It helps you get a new customer or client by convincing them with professional documents and articulated sales presentations.
In the business writing industry, proposal documents are primarily for business-to-business interactions. However, you might see the need to draft a sales proposal for specialty services targeted at households.
For example, you are offering renovation of consumer homes with solar panels for solar electricity generation. Alternatively, you are a construction or home decor company and want to approach a homeowners association (HOA) to offer renovation services to apartment complexes.
Whomsoever the targetted customer is, the secret recipe of a business proposal is fairly simple. You need to explain your business accurately and then relate to the client’s problem that your business can solve.
With the growth of digital channels, you have many platforms where you can publish your business proposals for random clients. Alternatively, you may also need to send a custom proposal document to companies that invite formal scope of work documents from the interested business parties.
Benefits of Creating a Business Proposal
Primarily, such a business document functions like a business case and helps the clients see everything about a business, company achievements, capabilities, teams, etc., in one document rather than many collaterals scattered online.
Other industry benefits of business proposals are outlined below:
- You and your prospective clients can clearly discuss all the project objectives and goals without missing anything from the project scope.
- Later, when the deal becomes final, both the client and business use this document to create a tariff plan for the project.
- A business proposal is the highest form of business document to approach business entities with your service or product selling offers.
- You can create a standard proposal document and customize it before using it to sell products, offer technical services, seek investments, invite partnership requests, and so on.
- When selling services and products to a big business for many months, you can create realistic projections and plans using a proposal document.
- A written document of business intentions helps you to monitor the performance of the new project.
- Some proposal documents may contain the strengths and weaknesses of your business. Thus the document makes it easy to perform a SWOT analysis using the document along with SWOT analysis templates.
- A business proposal works as evidence for a business contract. Both parties can use the document to engage in legal battles should there be any conflict between the service provider and the client.
- You, the business services provider and your client understand the risks associated with the project before finalizing the deal.
Types of Business Proposals
There are different kinds of business proposals in the business ecosystem. Depending on the demand of the proposal document, find below the types:
Informally solicited business proposals are those that you send to prospective clients whom you meet at business gatherings, events, dinners, and conferences.
A company that needs to buy products or services goes through several website portfolios of prospective vendors. When they find a few suitable vendors, they send a formal request for a business proposal document by explaining their expectations and specifications.
In response, you send a custom proposal document. This is known as a formally solicited proposal.
Unsolicited business proposals are nothing but cold calls or emails to a business from another company with the intention of selling something.
Now, according to the intention of the proposal document, business proposals can be of the following five types:
#1. Sales Proposal
If you are a product or services selling company, then you must deal with many sales proposals. You target the procurement management of another business to sell what you manufacture or service.
#2. Investor Proposal
If you are a small, medium, or startup business with a demand upside in what you do, you may need more funds to scale up. You can get business funding from investment banks, money management firms, etc., by sending them investor proposal documents.
#3. Project Proposal
If you have a project idea that can resolve a pressing business issue in your organization or a third-party business, you can approach the business stakeholders with a project proposal.
The business document must contain a clear project outline, including many tasks, subtasks, and dependencies. It should also contain the projected budget, workforce requirement, capital equipment, etc.
#4. RFP Proposal
This is another form of sales proposal for businesses. You send it according to the custom requirements sought by the buying company.
You can use any proposal software to get structured assistance in creating such business documents.
#5. Grant Proposal
For nonprofit organizations, various charitable trusts invite grant proposals throughout the year. In such cases, the business proposal you write must reflect the content that you include in an RFP and investor proposal.
Furthermore, depending on the data requirements expressed by the client’s end, a proposal document could have the following three variants:
#1. Product or Service Procurement Proposal (RFP)
RFP is the most popular business proposal document that any company will come by in the market.
In an RFP, the buying company will release a detailed description of the project along with materials requirements and quality standards. Vendors will respond to such RFPs with their bids for the whole project.
#2. Request for Quotation (RFQ)
When the price is a decision-maker for any services or product procurement by businesses, organizations invite RFQs from vendors. In an RFQ, the vendors quote a price depending on the specifications, quality, and quantity requirements of the procuring firm.
#3. Request for Information (RFI)
Most product and services buyers request an RFI online, on their notice boards, and via national papers to invite business documents on the followings:
- Product catalogs
- Services offered
Standard Format for a Business Proposal
The format of a proposal document varies from case to case. However, any standard business proposal should look like the below-mentioned outline:
- A title of the proposal in the title case
- The proposal must begin with an index of the content or a table of contents
- A top-level summary of the document or executive summary
- The issue you are willing to solve, known as the problem statement
- What solution are you proposing?
- A detailed qualifications section of your team or company about the problem a business need to fix
- The project timeline
- Risk and legal limitations
- The project commercials like billing frequency, payment method, etc.
- Detailed terms and conditions
- An acceptance clause
If the business proposal is personalized to a specific buying need, you may also need to add a product catalog.
Length of a Business Proposal
Do not make the proposal document unnecessarily long. Try to showcase the problem statement, resolution strategy, capabilities, and product specifications early in the document.
Also, the overall volume of the document should not go beyond 50 pages for a project with a revenue of $10,000. Alternatively, aim for a length so the reviewer can skim the whole content within 10 to 15 minutes.
How to Write a Business Proposal
You can follow these steps to create a standard business proposal for most industries:
#1. Collect Business Capabilities
Create a database of all relevant business capabilities to the target project or third-party problem that you want to resolve. These capabilities will prove that you got an adequate workforce and skills to serve the client.
#2. Market Research
Perform thorough market research for supplies needed. Also, analyze any specialized skills you need to hire. Then create an estimation of the cost before quoting the pricing for the project.
#3. Create an Executive Summary
Now, you must create a compelling executive summary of your business proposal. Here you must introduce your company and its achievements and project your team as the best-suited team to resolve the client’s problem.
#4. Plan and Outline the Project
You must also plan the project or procurement for which you are planning to sign a deal with your client. Research the client’s issue or procurement plan appropriately to estimate a minimum deadline for the project.
At this stage, you must also create a draft of tasks and subtasks and find assignees to utilize your workforce the best way.
How to Follow Up on a Business Proposal
The best way to follow up with the client after sending a proposal document is via a virtual meeting or phone call. However, that may not be available in all the scenarios.
For example, you have sent cold emails with business proposals to various companies to secure contracts. However, you do not yet know whether the client is interested or not. Moreover, you may not possess their phone number as well.
Hence, you can try emailing those clients. When sending an email, offer the following:
- Remind them that you are a leading service provider
- Mention some commendable business metrics that you have achieved
- Request a virtual meeting if they find your portfolio capable
- Ask open-ended questions to initiate a conversation
- Highlight important content on the business proposals and redirect links to the original document
Examples of Business Proposals
You will find many outstanding and proven proposal documents in the templates section below. However, find below some hand-picked business proposal examples that you can use now:
#1. Minimalist Business & Marketing Proposal
- An infographic style and minimalistic proposal document
- Color blend of this document are: #222524, #fffffe, #f2c745, and #939496
- Typefaces: Montserrat and Roboto
- Paper size: 21 × 29.7 cm
#2. Clean Minimalist Marketing Proposal
- This is suitable for a marketing proposal
- The document’s color palette is: #f2f3f7, #b8b7bb, #768285, #2c3837, and #050707
- Typefaces: Roboto, Poppins Medium, Montserrat, and Poppins ExtraBold
- Paper size: 21 × 29.7 cm
#3. Orange Modern Partnership Proposal
- If you are proposing a partnership deal, try this template
- You will find these colors in this document: #9ab3bb, #e7e6e6, #4a6162, #e88e38, and #f8b03a
- Typefaces: Montserrat and Montserrat Classic
- Paper size: 21 × 29.7 cm
#4. Black Brown Minimalist Professional Event Proposal
- Suitable for corporate project proposals
- This document comes in these colors: #22263f, #fefefe, #1c1f1f, #696b72, and #b4b5ba
- Typefaces: Montserrat Classic, Montserrat, Roboto
- Paper size: 21 × 29.7 cm
Popular Business Proposal Templates
Business Proposal Template From Canva
For proposal documents, your first destination should be the Canva Business Proposals template library. It offers you more than 1,000 templates. You should find the proposal document you are looking for in the business niche you are in.
If you are looking for professional and proven business proposal templates to pitch a project, product sales, or RFP, you can also check out the PandaDoc templates library. These are free-to-use templates. Hence, these should not require any royalties or subscriptions.
Jotform has a collection of over 50 proposal documents that you can use in various scenarios like mobile app development proposals, cleaning proposals, consulting proposals, bid proposals, and more.
Furthermore, you can edit the content of the proposal document in the Jotform editor for free. Moreover, you can send the document to multiple recipients for e-signatures.
So far, you have explored various foundational topics on business proposals, including the technique of writing one. You have also discovered some professional business proposal template platforms.
You can use the above knowledge to write your own proposal documents or work as a freelancer on platforms where businesses find and hire freelancers.