5 Essential elements of a winning business proposal
We are all aware that writing business proposals can be a bit challenging. And regardless of whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer, you certainly want to present in the best way possible the value proposition you or your company have for your client. To help you write great proposals, business proposal templates make it much faster and easier to put down your ideas than starting from scratch: all you have to do is follow the pre-planned steps in order to make everything go smoothly.
Why you need a business proposal
A business proposal is a document that is used to present your value proposition—how the product or service you sell can be useful—to a client.
The purpose of a business proposal is to show the benefits of your product or service to your client in the best way possible and convince them to take a decision in your favor.
Types of business proposals
Before we move on to the 5 essential parts of a business proposal, let us first outline the different business proposal types:
- Formally solicited
- Informally solicited
Formally solicited business proposals are written in response to customer requests.
Informally solicited proposals are made after an oral conversation has taken place between you and the client.
Unsolicited business proposals are those documents that you write for a client even though the client has not requested them. For example, if you see a company facing a particular problem or believe that you have a solution that can solve the problem or benefit them in some way, you can choose to write an unsolicited proposal for them.
Now, let’s see what parts of a business proposal are crucial to making it a winning deal for you!
1. The title page
A business proposal is a strong and concise presentation of your ideas and what you are offering. And having an equally strong title page helps you capture their attention and set the tone for making your case.
The title page is thus an integral part of a business proposal:
- Even before the client opens your proposal, a well-crafted title page will show your professionalism and attention to every detail.
- It will be easier for the client to remember you.
- You will catch their attention.
Tip: Edit the title page so that it becomes more visually appealing. People are visual beings, so why not use it to your advantage?
Look at these examples:
Source: Black Briefcase
Do you notice how effective these title pages are in contrast to a black and white document with just the proposer’s and client’s names printed on it?
Whether you are writing a solicited or unsolicited proposal, you should add a short introduction. It is important for your client to get familiar with you and your work.
Take the opportunity to introduce yourself and outline the following:
- Some important information about yourself and your experience.
- Your or your company’s specialties.
- How you plan to solve a certain problem or why the product or service you are selling is the perfect fit for them.
Tip: Don’t overdo the length of the introduction but focus on a few key sentences that will encourage the client to continue reading.
If you find it difficult to get started with the introduction and don’t know where to begin, follow the example below:
3. Problem/Project statement
In this part of your business proposal, you should address the problem or project that you wish to take on.
Show how you understand completely what the customer is looking for, and point out the importance of solving the problem through a concrete and right-fit solution. Emphasize your and your organization’s strengths and how you intend to apply them to the problem at hand or the project in question.
Tip: If you have seen some other sides of the same problem or project offered, do not hesitate to highlight them. It is always a positive thing to show initiative, but of course, you need to respect boundaries. For example, you can show initiative and be unobtrusive at the same time if you start with: “I also noticed that …” or “I would suggest paying attention to …” and similar.
The problem/project statement and the methodology are the main parts of your proposal and the ones that actually interest your client the most.
Once you have identified the problem, its probable cause, and its consequences, it is time to determine how you will solve it.
This does not mean that you need to reveal every detail or outline your entire strategy—the client should get that only after hiring you or your company. In addition, there is no need to waste your or your client’s time with a lengthy text about your tactics.
What is important is explaining how you can come up with a solution or how you can help make the project work better.
Outline your plan in a few sentences. Do it in sequence, and make sure that all steps are consistent and that you don’t skip any important step. Show the client that their business is in safe hands with you.
Tip: For this part of the business proposal, you can use bullet points or flow charts to make everything transparent, clear, and understandable.
5. Pricing and deliverable
At the end of the proposal, it is customary to state the amount you or your company would be charging for your solution or services.
Carefully design your pricing strategy to match the services you offer. List them in a table with prices separately shown for each service, and finally, add up the total price for the whole engagement. It might be helpful to follow the plan that you have devised in the Methodology part of your business proposal.
After the pricing table, you also need to enter deliverables. Please indicate to the client what your deadlines are for each step or deliverable. This is especially important if you are to be paid by the milestones. Set realistic deadlines, because it is always better to finish the job before the deadline than to be late.
Tip: Create a simple and clear table that will not be confusing to your client. In this part, there is no need to re-explain the steps you will take; so just state the items, price, and delivery time.
A few more tips & tricks…
There are some additional tips that can be of great help to you when you decide to write a business proposal.
Include a table of contents
Table of contents will allow your client to know exactly what he can expect in the proposal document and to easily locate what he is most interested in. Being specific is half the job done.
Make text readable
Do not go overboard with flowery language or niche expressions. Instead, be as clear and precise as possible. Don’t make it more complex than it has to be.
Customize your proposal
Be sure to add your logo and choose a specific colour scheme that will make it eye-catching and different from the rest of the proposals. You have to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.
Add pictures and infographics
It is advisable to include pictures and infographics in your proposal if they contribute to a better understanding of what you are talking about in the document.
Use an appropriate tool
There are numerous tools for writing a business proposal today. One such tool is Prospero – which is among the Pandadoc alternatives. This tool can guide you through the entire process of writing the proposal document, step by step.
Complete proposal with electronic signature
At the end of the proposal, it may be useful to enable the option for the client to leave their signature electronically. This way, you can save your client’s time and be more effective.
Creating a good business proposal is essential when it comes to leaving a powerful, good impression on your prospect or client.
The most important parts of an effective business proposal are:
- An attention-grabbing title page.
- An introduction that presents you neatly to your client.
- Understanding of the problem in question which shows your ability to deliver the required service or solution.
- A methodology that illustrates your or your company’s experience and knowledge.
- Pricing and deliverable.
If you keep these essential elements in mind when writing a business proposal and follow the tips outlined above, you can be sure of making a great impression that can indeed help you win.
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