proposal writing tips

Business Proposal Format - How to correctly format a business proposal

December 9, 2015

Business Proposal Format

Writing a winning business proposal is imperative if you want your company to thrive. For an easy to approve and sign proposal, you need to choose an easy to read business proposal format. You really have to get it right the first time and to put together a cohesive proposal that will entice all of your prospects to become your clients.

The way you format your business proposal can greatly influence your chances of success. In fact, your whole business depends on the overall efficiency of your business proposal. A smart business proposal needs to be cleverly formatted so that your potential partners might read it with ease and come back to you with an answer ASAP.

Business Proposal Format Best Practices

Here are 5 business proposal format best practices you need to implement when formatting your business proposal.

  1. Create a Sales Friendly Business Proposal Format

First and foremost, you need to ensure that your business proposal is a good conversion tool. With that in mind, you have to ensure that your proposal follows all the steps of the sales process, including greeting, offering, qualifying and closing.

According to Wikipedia, a business proposal is “a key part in the complex and highly competitive sales process (

In addition to fitting the standard sales pattern, a business proposal should also fit the complex sales process.

To write a winning business proposal, you need to consider the following 4 sections:

  1. Greeting
  2. Qualifying
  3. Offering
  4. Closing

Here is a great example of business proposal that includes all of the above sections. If you know sales, you will automatically know how to format a winning business proposal using as guidelines the above four sections. Of course, you can add other sections, but ensure you know what you’re doing.

  1. Start your business proposal with a Clear Purpose in Mind

At the beginning of your business proposal you should address your purpose. After a short summary, briefly touch on the issue you want to resolve and state your solution. Here is an example of a good introduction for your business template.

“I kindly propose that you……are willing to include the following … a result of these…….challenges/opportunities so that your company can thrive and capitalize on …… You can fill in the gaps with your own propositions. Your purpose should be to offer a genuine solution to the problem or problems faced by your potential business partners.

To make things easier for your potential partner, you need to convince your client that you have the right solution to his problem. Once you present the problem he might face, back it up with evidences. Always write effective solution statements that convince your potential business partner to accept your idea.

  1. Business Proposal Layout and Design

This is another important aspect of formatting your business proposal. When writing a successful business proposal, you need to follow certain guidelines. Here are some layout key points to consider if you want to get the attention of your potential customers:

- Content written using a standard font of 11 or 12, headings with 14 or 16 font size.

- Non-standard or funky fonts should be avoided at all costs.

- Bolded sub-headings.

- Each new page should have its own subtitle.

- Bullet points preferred.

- Use simple sentences that stick to the point: your sentences should be free of superfluous language.

- Avoid allusions and figures of speech.

- Create short paragraphs, with no more than three sentences.

- Use first person singular only in extraordinary circumstances. Instead, go for first person plural. Also use second and third person plural: when choosing the right grammatical person, you need to have an objective, third person writing style.

Some of the reasons to use the first and second person format are:

  1. You are a freelancer, not a team of more people.
  2. Similarly, your recipient is a freelancer or a single-person agency.
  3. You offer person-to-person services.
  4. You already have a proper relationship with your recipient that you’ve established a long time ago.

On the other hand, the reasons to choose the third-person format are:

  1. The recipient is a non-profit, a large corporation, a governmental association or a medium company.
  2. You operate in a B2B environment, where formality is a must.
  3. You do not know your recipient personally and you do not have an established relationship with them, even though we are talking about one person.
  1. Use the Right Photo Size

Another business proposal best practice is to make sure you upload the right type of photos. If you send PDF text blocks, use only images that take less than 1 MB space. If you choose web-only gallery blocks, you can upload 3-4 MB high-definition images.

Do not overload your business proposal with text, but use images and size your photos correctly.

  1. Add a Table of Content

In addition to creating a highly appealing first section, which is the “hook” you can use to get your prospects’ attention, you need to add a table of contents. To create a table of contents, simply turn on the option in your Office Word settings tab. If you use other tool to write your business proposal, find the option and turn it on.

Bonus: Business Proposal Format Best Practices

Here are a few best practices that may prove invaluable in helping you to format your business proposal the right way to help you win more new clients:

- Understand your client’s needs and compose the proposal around them.

- Develop a methodology to reach your goals.

- Demonstrate awareness of your industry.

- Reference any projects you have done in the past to increase the confidence of your potential business partner.

- Offer a good warranty period.

- Address each and every technical requirement of your clients.

- Outshine your competition by reinforcing your company’s strength and by promoting yourself as the best choice for your recipient.

For even more information, read our article on how to write a business proposal.

Win more clients by creating impressive digital business proposals, quotes, and contracts using ClientPoint Software

If you want your business proposals, quotes, and contracts to stand out and give you the best chance at winning new clients, use ClientPoint Software. It makes creating and formatting professional business proposals, quotes, and contracts fast and easy.

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