There are no exact rules for writing a business proposal. However, there are some best practices that should be followed. But who decides what these best practices should be? Who sets the standards for business proposal writing?
The answer is simple--your prospective business client.
Come to think of it; this makes total sense. A proposal is a document intended to persuade another company to do business with your company. Whatever is required for writing your business proposal is entirely up to the company you are trying to sell to.
If you want your business proposal to succeed, you must know how to persuade your prospective business client. This begins by mastering the best practices for your business proposal structure.
Choosing the right business proposal structure can be challenging. You have to get it right the first time. The chosen format largely affects how the client interprets your proposal. This means you will have to carefully consider every element of your business proposal structure.
Fortunately, we have compiled seven best practices to keep in mind when it comes to writing a winning business proposal. Let’s get started:
The cover letter page introduces your business and your solution to your prospective business client. If you don’t nail this part, your client may not read the rest of your proposal. In this section, you need to be clear about what is special about your company. Take this opportunity to give all your company’s details including background information, credentials and achievements. You also want to state why your company’s solution is different and better than that of your competitors. This could be your quality, skills, experience or technology. In short, say why the product or service your company is offering is the best solution and why you’re the most qualified business partner for the job. At the bare minimum, your cover letter should create curiosity and make the client want to read your entire business proposal and not just skip to your pricing section (https://www.clientpoint.net/how-to-write-an-attention-grabbing-business-proposal-cover-letter/).
Your next job when writing your business proposal is to convince your prospective client that your company fully understands their problem and/or needs. As you already know, companies tend to trust the people that can analyze the problems facing them. It makes them think, ‘’If they know our problems, they must know how to solve them.” The same thinking applies to writing your business proposal. If your company can convince the client that your team has a complete understand of the issues your prospective client is trying to solve, then you’ve done a good job of presenting your company to win the client's business.
The best way to understand a potential client’s needs and problems is to talk with them. Ask people within the organization about their concerns, operating policies, the problems they want to solve, and even their management philosophy. Find out if there were any previous attempts to solve the challenges currently facing their organization and why those solutions didn’t work. This research will save your company from proposing a solution that has already been tried but didn’t work. You might also discover other important issues that weren’t addressed and need to be considered (https://www.clientpoint.net/4-questions-before-writing-business-proposal/).
This is the section where you go into detail explaining how your company intends to tackle the client's project from the beginning to the end. Get into the details, mentioning anything that distinguishes your company from your competitors. Ensure that you remain relevant with accurate statistics and realistic projections. In short, answer the: who, when, where, what, how and why of how you will help your client.
Who: Who will work on the project? Who is to be called in case a problem arises? Who is responsible for what?
What: What needs to be delivered to complete this project to the client's complete satisfaction? What will be required to accomplish the goals that have been set? What should your business client expect? What will it cost?
Where: Where is the work going to be completed? Where will the materials be delivered?
How: How is the project going to be handled? How will it be managed? How will risks be avoided? How is the project going to benefit the client?
When: When do you intend to start work on the project? When does your company intend to complete the project? When is the payment deadline?
Why: Why should the client choose your company? Why have you chosen the solutions you have proposed?
Being able to answer these questions will help position your company to win your prospective client's business. However, keep the technical jargon to a minimum. You want the client to have a simple and straightforward business proposal that is easy for them to read and understand (https://www.clientpoint.net/ultimate-business-proposal-checklist).
In outlining the budget expectations, it needs to be completely clear as to how much your company’s services (or the product you are selling) will cost. Your company may offer several packages, so it needs to be presented in a manner that is easy to understand. Your products or services may also include other options that will either decrease or increase price. Instead of making the client read about all these potential options, you may want to include a short attachment explaining that anything outside the package will be discussed directly. This has the benefit of appearing to have less extra costs while leaving no room for them to criticize your pricing. High quality business proposal writing and management software like ClientPoint will help your company breeze through this section (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/66010).
Just like all other forms of business writing, your business proposal structure should be easy to read and easy to understand. This ensures that your reader absorbs all the information at the right pace and in the correct order. Massive blocks of text are your worst enemy, and most clients will just skim through the big text blocks, missing the most crucial points. Paragraphs, especially short ones, are your biggest friend and will help to break down your ideas making them more reader-friendly. Subheadings will also help you to segment your topics, while things like italics and bold help to draw the reader’s eye to the parts you want to emphasize (https://www.clientpoint.net/ultimate-business-proposal-writing-guide/).
It should be evident that the tone and style used in a business proposal will be very different from the one used in informal settings. The intended message should be conveyed in an open and straightforward manner. It should show the seriousness of your company and that you are professional. As such, try to use clear, concise and straightforward language with little to no industry jargon or highly technical terms. Stay away from hyperbole that exaggerate the benefits the products or services your company is offering will provide. At the same time, avoid discriminatory language or jokes that appear sarcastic. A business proposal is not a place for humor. Finally, take your time to slowly read through your entire proposal since a single mistake could ruin your chances of winning the contract (https://www.clientpoint.net/tone-style-business-proposal/).
If you have ever written a business proposal, you know that your work isn’t over after you click the submit button to email the proposal to your prospective client. Following up with your prospective client to remind them about your business proposal is a crucial part of the whole sales process (https://www.clientpoint.net/follow-up-with-prospects/). Here’s how to follow up with a prospective client after sending them your business proposal:
With business proposal tracking software like ClientPoint, you will be notified immediately when the client opens your proposal.
Follow up in 1-2 days and ask if they have questions. You can do this with a phone call or an email message.
Writing a business proposal can be a difficult and time consuming process. However, it can be made much easier and faster once you understand the best format you should use to write your business proposal. ClientPoint makes this entire process very easy with our business proposal templates and our step-by-step business proposal creations tools that walk you through each step of creating your business proposals. When it comes to business proposals, having a solid business proposal structure and template is the first step. ClientPoint Software has a business proposal structure that will help your company streamline and automate the entire business proposal creation, tracking, and management process.
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.