how to write a business proposal

A simple guide for how to write a business proposal

May 9, 2016

For B2B companies (business-to-business), a business proposal is a document you will use to win new clients, and a well written business proposal will dramatically increase your chance of winning new clients. A business proposal is a document that states how your company will provide a service or product to another business to solve a problem or need they have. In short, it's a document that says who you are, what you do, and why you think you are the best choice for providing the solution the client wants--why the client should hire you instead of one of your competitors.

A common misconception is to think that a business proposal is similar to a business plans Although there are a few similarities that can be found within the two, the basic difference is that a business proposal is used as a sales tool to sell your product or service to clients, while a business plan is made when you start a business and you want to plan all aspects of running your business.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to write a proper business proposal. But first, there are preparations that should be made.

Research

Research your potential client thoroughly to understand their culture, their goal, and vision. This will help you when you need to set up the tone for your proposal. Find out the leaders and who ultimately will be the decision maker for your proposal, Anything that will help better your proposal.

Arrange a meeting

If it's possible, arrange a meeting with your potential client before you submit your proposal to learn more about their company and their exact needs for your product or service. Meet someone that you feel deeply understand the details of the project best. Ask about their exact needs, what is their KPI (Key Performance Indicator), and their budget preferences. This way you get a clearer picture of how to write your proposal to suit their exact needs and wants.

Brainstorm

Now that you've got as much information as you can about the client's needs, goals, and budget, you can brainstorm on explaining in your business proposal how your solution perfectly matches their needs. Put yourself in their shoes so you can answer their questions like, "why should I pay you this much for your solution?" or "how does your solution benefit me more than hiring a different company to provide this solution for us?". Emphasize your talents and areas of expertise, and answer the big question: "Why are you the best for this project?" (source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/29990)

Business Proposal Format

After the brainstorming preparations are done, it's time to write your proposal. Typical business proposals are divided to several sections:

Title page

Start with a title page, with an appropriate title for your product or service and the solution you are offering the client.

The title page also should include the name of the writer (you), the name of your business, the person to whom the proposal is being presented to, the client's business name, and the date of submission.

Table of contents

This section might or might not be included depending on how many pages the proposal will consist. If you decide to include it, put it right after the title page.

Executive summary

An executive summary will make or break your proposal. A good one will successfully engage the reader to read the rest of your proposal.

Experts differ on how long the executive company should be and this is where your research of the client's needs comes into play. Depending on the culture and characteristics of the client, they might prefer a longer detailed executive summary or a short one. But most modern executives prefer a focused one-page executive summary. Nevertheless, the executive summary should consist of:

  • Name and description of your company, what you do, what services or products you provide, your qualifications(training,education,awards, successful past projects)
  • The purpose of your proposal, how you will develop a solution for the client, how you will benefit them, and brief summary of the proposed plan
  • Put any information you wouldn't want the client to miss, if you can show the benefit they will have with some statistics or graph, include it

Don't waste words on the executive summary, make it focused, as informative and interesting as possible.

Writing an executive summary might need its own dedicated guide, like the one you can find here (https://articles.bplans.com/writing-an-executive-summary) or here (https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/09/how-to-write-an-executive-summary.html).

Statement of problem, issue, or job at hand

This section describes the situation your client are facing, whether it's simply finding the right person to complete the project or bigger issues you found during the briefing and research.

The better you can relate to them and prove to them that you understand their problem and that you can solve it, the higher the chance that they will select your proposal and purchase from you.

Approach and methodology

This section discussed your solution for the problems in the previous section. If the previous sections are mostly consists of overviews, this section should cover your step by step plan in detail.

This is where you show your prospective client how you can fulfill their needs and goal. Be as detailed as possible without drowning the client. Make a good judgment about how deep the technical detail you will share.

Qualifications

This is where you sell yourself, or your company. Mention any training and education relevant to the project. Any award or accomplishment you've made before, successful past projects, years of experience, etc.

Show the prospective client you are the right people for the job.

Schedule and benchmarks

Make a clear timeline of the time needed for the project. If there are several steps needed to complete the project, make separate dateline for each one.

Don't overestimate, make sure your timeline can actually be done in time. Don't promise what you can't deliver.

If you are offering a ready-made product, this section can be skipped.

Cost, payment, and any legal matters

Depending on your industry and what you are proposing, this section can be a simple summary of your fee. But on more complicated projects, you might need a payment schedule.

If there are any legal issues such as permit or licensing, depending on the quantity and complexity you can decide whether to include it in this section or make dedicated section after cost and payment.

Benefits

Show the client the benefits they will receive by having you/your company provide the products or services they need. Provide any data that will help convince the prospective client of your expertise and value. You might include graphs and charts. Make it as informative and possible. (source: https://articles.bplans.com/whats-the-best-business-proposal-format/)

A Final Word

Always tailor your business proposal to match the exact needs of each prospective client you send your business proposal to. Keep in mind the key to a successful business proposal is how well you understand the client's problem and why your solution is the best solutions. A business proposal is a sales tool and you need to sell the client on how your solution will solve their problem and that nobody else can do a better job than you/your company.

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