proposal

Business proposal template - how to write a business proposal

May 28, 2015

Getting down to writing a business proposal can seem a daunting task. But with the help of a business proposal template and a clear idea of what makes a successful proposal, it is possible to write one up in a day or two. By using ClientPoint business proposal software, you can make a great business proposal in under 10 minutes! Click here for a free demo.

A business proposal may be solicited (in response to an ad) formally or informally, or unsolicited (offered to client or buyer even when it is not requested).

When large corporations and government agencies need to buy services or products from other businesses, they usually release a Request for Proposal (RFP). This formal document, outlining the client's needs, is an invitation to send in a proposal explaining how your business can meet these needs.

Writing a powerful business proposal at this stage will convince the client to hire you instead of competitors.

The Elements of a Winning Business Proposal

Before working from a proposal template, keep in mind that writing a proposal requires quite a bit of research. In order to make sure your time is spent profitably, only go ahead after you have evaluated the RFP. Study the company's goals, and evaluate your role in achieving these goals, as well as the feasibility of the project time frame, scope of work, and whether your company has the expertise, time and resources for project completion. Only begin planning a proposal when you have thought these things through.

If the proposal request is informal, you may need to talk to the clients for the information you need. Speak to the clients to find out their needs, concerns, management philosophy and operating policies. You may have to do some extra research on the subject and include the client's competitors and customers in your research. Find out why previous attempts, if any, to reach the goals outlined were not successful. Evaluate the strengths you have that can help provide a solution to the business's problems.

Preparing to Write Your Business Proposal

Before you begin writing your proposal, keep in mind the three main focuses of your proposal.

  • First, the proposal should be able to describe the client's needs in clear terms, showing that you are aware of their problems. Only then will the client believe that your business has solutions for them. A much-quoted proposal is one for Puffin Media Inc. in which the company's difficulty in taking the leap from traditional to social media marketing is identified very thoughtfully.
  • Next, the proposal should present a solution in great detail. Refer to the RFP outline to make sure your solution meets the criteria. For instance, if price and project completion time are the major criteria, a lengthy and expensive solution will not win you the project. It helps to know your competitors bidding at this point, and figure out how you can outshine them.
  • Finally, pricing information and time projections should be included. This may be in the form of a fee summary for short-term projects, or a fee schedule with milestones for long-term projects.

Be sure to think about why the client should work with you and not with any of the other potential companies that have also identified the clients' needs and have presented their proposals. As the University of Richmond Writing Center advises, you should be able to persuade your potential client to make a change and accept your proposal, supporting what is essentially a sale pitch supported with plenty of facts.

Writing Your Business Proposal - A Business Proposal Template

While your plan will differ depending on your client's needs, there is a basic format that most successful business proposals follow, though it can vary according to the guidelines in the RFP.

Cover Page

A cover page containing contact information should be included, so that you can be easily reached.

Executive Summary

This is a critical summary (in a few paragraphs) where you will clearly identify the client's problems and goals (in case of informally solicited proposals) and lay out the solutions or offer solutions to the needs laid out in the RFP. This section should also include the services or products offered by your business, the market needs they resolve, along with a list of the factors that will ensure success of the project. The background and benefits of your company may be kept separate from the initial Executive Summary.

Background

Here you can discuss your company or product/service history with a focus on the relationship between your business and the client or similar companies.

Proposal

Lay out your proposal (the solution, in other words), clearly and concisely. Without exaggeration, use facts and reasoning to point out how your business can solve the client's problems.

This section should demonstrate how each of the requirements laid out in the RFP will be met. In the case of unsolicited proposals, there should be a description of the client's requirements and how they will be met by your business.

Marketing Analysis

What are the existing products or services in the market and how do yours compare, especially with competitors? Answer these questions in this section.

Benefits

What are the benefits that you have to offer your potential client? Be very clear, specific and concise, and offer a list of long, short-term and immediate benefits.

Financial Plan

This section should inform clients of your financial plan. Provide all costing data here, along with implementation plans. Provide answers to questions of initial cost estimates, any monthly, quarterly or yearly costs, potential revenues to be expected, whether or not there will be a return on investment. If the costs involved are not fixed one-time costs but for a project delivered periodically over a long time, you may need to provide an extended financial plan offering cost estimates across time.

The project timeline and delivery schedules should also be included as a part of this section or separately. This important section should ideally include a presentation with visual aids, of the process with specific milestones and benchmarks marked from the beginning to the end of the timeline. In cases a visual presentation is not feasible, a concise written presentation should be made on the timeline to be followed.

Also provide information here about the process of implementation, describing how your company will manage the project.

Conclusion

Finish up your business proposal with a summary that ties the main points of the proposal together. You can also offer proof of experience (which is often requested in the RFP) before you conclude, along with testimonials from previous customers.

Overall, your main business proposal report should be brief but detailed. Also remember, the executive summary is the hook that your clients can either bite or stop reading at, so be sure to pay extra attention to this section.

Finally, for unsolicited or internal proposals, create a clear, stand-out business proposal but also consider presenting it face to face for a bigger impact.

Make creating business proposals fast and easy by using ClientPoint business proposal software.

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

If you want your business proposals, price quotes, and contracts to stand out and give you the best chance at winning new clients, use ClientPoint's business proposal software. It makes creating and formatting professional business proposals, price quotes, and contracts fast and easy. Click the button below to get a FREE demo of ClientPoint.

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