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Proposal Template - Step by Step How to Write a Winning Business Proposal

May 19, 2017

Proposal Template

One of the most crucial skills in business is mastering the art of crafting a perfect business proposal, and in this article by ClientPoint we provide you with a very detailed proposal template. This indispensable document is absolutely essential to the success and growth of a business/company. It has the power to help land new projects and also comes in handy in attracting and retaining clients who can take your brand and income to new heights.

Sustainability and profitability of a business heavily rely on having a regular stable of clients. Unfortunately, most clients are not always forthcoming with new opportunities. This is why being able to submit high-quality and persuasive business proposals works to your advantage. Before you embark on writing a business proposal, you have to first and foremost understand what it is.

So what exactly is a business proposal?

A business proposal is a document normally used for selling products or services to a client, with the client usually being a business or an organization. A business proposal typically specifies the product, service or business in question, the management and financial projections, and the implementation strategy that will be used to attain the set objectives. The main aim of a business proposal is to let interested parties know how you will fulfill a contract or project if awarded. It also gives you the chance to explain why you are the best.

Never underestimate the importance of a business proposal because it can spell the difference between failure and success especially in the current viciously competitive business world. With the right skills and the best format, you will undoubtedly be able to get the contracts you seek. This article will teach you just how to do that. Before delving right into the business proposal template, lets first look at how a proposal differs from a business plan.

Business Plan vs. Business Proposal

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably giving the impression that they are the same; they are in reality very different. While a business proposal is created to offer a service or product to a client or investor, the business plan is merely a formal statement of business goals and clearly outlining how the goals will be achieved.

A business proposal is sent directly from an established business to prospective clients. In the case of a proposal, you are attempting to sell your service or product not your business. This is unlike in a business plan where you are after funds to start or expand a business.

Step by step guideline on how to format your business proposal

1.) Start with the Title Page

The aim of this page is to exclusively inform the prospective client who you are. Aim at striking a balance between simplicity and detail. Include your name, the name of your company, the name of the prospective client receiving the proposal and finally the date of submission.

2.) Table of contents

Now the recipient has a clear idea of who you are, proceed to informing them of all the information contained within the business proposal. The length of the table of contents will depend on how long your business proposal is. Always include this section after the title page and before introducing any other vital information.

1. Executive summary

2. Our Understanding

2.1 Your Company

2.2 Your Needs

2.3 Decision Criteria

3. Our Approach

3.1 Our company

3.2 Our Solution

3.2.1 Key product/ Service Offered

3.2.2 Professional Services

3.2.3 Service level Agreement

3.2.4 Project Delivery Time lines

3.3 Action Plan

4. Pricing and Terms

4.1 Prices

4.2 Terms

5. Contact Information

5.1 Headquarters

5.2 Account Manager

5.3 VP Sales

6. Appendix

6.1 Additional Information.

 

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is an essential part of the business proposal because it is a brief review of the entire document. The prospective clients you are reaching out to are probably extremely busy and will only briefly glance at your proposal, most will first look at the executive summary. Keep in mind that this section is not comprehensive in any way; it should not be longer than 10% of the original document. The stylistic and structural guidelines are clear;

* Every paragraph should be short and concise

* Executive summary should be independent (make sense on its own even if a person hasn’t read the whole document)

* Ensure the problem is clearly defined in easily understandable terms because an ill-defined problem won’t set up your solution to be impactful...Example of a well stated problem’ Los Angeles has the worst traffic problem in the United States. It’s not just a nuisance. The pollution and smog caused is slowly creating a devastating health problem.

* A problem is always in need of a viable solution so go ahead and present a perfect and unique solution that effectively tackles the problem at hand.. A great solution to the problem stated above can be "Zintex has invented a groundbreaking traffic control system that will shave minutes of commute through simply installing 'smart grids’ onto spotlight lanes. These smart grids determine the amount of cars in any lane and help to direct traffic appropriately. No longer will driers in LA waste time standing at a red stoplight while the green light blinks for no cars in the next lane."

* Keep in mind that an executive summary is not an essay meaning there is no need for long blocks of text. Use bullet points and headings to help make this section more skimmable.

The executive summary is your opportunity to grab and retain the attention of your audience, don’t just stop at providing a solution. Clearly elaborate why your service or product is superior over the competition. Why are you the ideal choice?

2. Our Understanding

2.1 Your Company

The best way to make a lasting impression to prospective clients is to prove that you know something about their company. Simply paraphrase the prospect’s corporate summary using the information you find on their website.

2.2 Your Needs

Focus on proving to the potential client in question that you understand what they need and that you fully grasp the issue they are trying to resolve.

Grab their attention by re-stating the problem/issue they are dealing with in your own words. This way they are sure that you have a clear idea of exactly what they are looking for and you are the perfect person for the job. Use simple language, short and precise sentences that are easy to read and understand. And also use a bulleted list to state each need.

2.3 Decision Criteria

In this section, you will elaborately state all the important decisions that involve agreements, professional services, warranty deliveries and any other important matters

3. Our Approach

In this part of the proposal, your objective should be to concisely and clearly summarize your methodology, qualifications that make you the best solution and just to be thorough also include your schedule and benchmarks.

3.1 Our Company

Provide a brief but detailed summary of your company that incorporates the market edge or differentiation and superiority over competitors. Simply structure the information in line with the kind of business you seek from the prospective client. For instance; if you are seeking to supply goods, describe your company as a reliable distributor of high quality products at an affordable price.

3.2 Our Solution

Offer a comprehensive and clear solution that is in line with the prospective client’s decision criteria. Show that the unique solution you are offering is perfect for their needs and aligns with their organizational goals.

3.2.1 Essential product/service offered

Outline the outstanding or most salient features of your company’s products or services and show that they meet the need and the expectation of the client. Show that what you offer is of the best value

3.2.2 Professional service

Your aim here is to prove to the prospective clients that you can effectively implement the service needed, execute a project excellently or reliably deliver goods. This entails showcasing experience, skills and achievements. It is also your chance to brag a little, this is the part of the business proposal where you get to convince the potential client of why you are the ideal choice. Here are two leading questions that will help you nail this section;

Why are you the best choice?

What gives you an edge over the competition?

Mention past successful ventures, what makes your staff the most qualified, your marketing successes and any other relevant information that makes your company/business stand out.

3.2.3 Service level Agreement

In this brief section simply insert your standard agreements as it pertains to the services being offered or the project being executed.

3.2.4 Project Delivery Time lines

Give a clear outline of the schedule and benchmarks; this will include deliverables, frames, milestones and checkpoints. To show your prospective client how organized and committed you are to meeting expectations, ensure you are clear about how long the project will take. This way, both parties are on the same page from the onset so that the business relationship remains positive. Be realistic and avoid setting unachievable goals that set you up for failure and set up the potential client for disappointment.

Since you are excited at the prospect of landing a new business opportunity, it is natural to underestimate how long it will take to effectively accomplish set goals. Simply promise only what you can deliver! This section is not compulsory; for instance if you are offering a product, you can omit this section. The business proposal format is not set in stone; you can tweak and tailor it to suit the specifics of your business and industry.

3.3 Action Plan

This is a highly-informative section that is intended to show the prospective client how you can effectively tackle their problem. Also ensure you clearly outline all the steps you will take to carry out the plan-of-action. This section should be detail oriented; go into the nitty-gritty of how you are actually planning to fulfill all your client’s needs and expectations. Since the previous sections before this one have been a bit surface-level, this is your opportunity to go into detail and illustrate how you will resolve the problem in question.

Keep the jargon to a minimum and use simple language that is easy-to-understand by the audience. Also keep your client in mind and write in a way that makes it easy to follow along and get a clear sense of what your plan entails, be careful not to drown them in minutiae.

4. Pricing and Terms

4.1 Price

Give out details about the prices, the options available and also incorporate other expenses like professional services and travel. In this section, you get down to brass tacks and also state the cost and the payment schedule if appropriate or necessary. How you structure this section will largely rely on the particular contract you are seeking. If a onetime payment is required, a section entitled 'Fee Summary' is sufficient. If more than one payment is necessary, include the Fee Schedule section. To ensure you get it right, always ensure you are supplying the prospective clients with as much information as you can so that they have an easy time making a decision.

4.2 Terms

Clearly spell out all the terms and conditions for the transaction so that the prospective client gets a clear a idea of what it will take to do business with you rights from the get-go.

5. Contact Information

Elaborate and detailed contact information so that the prospective client has an easy time getting back to you.

5.1 Headquarters

Provide accurate contact details for your organisation’s head office.

5.2 Account Manager

This is arguably the most important employee when it comes with facilitating interaction between you and the prospective client. Give detailed information concerning the Account Manager to ensure that they can be reached anytime.

5.3 VP Sales

The VP Sales also plays an important role so ensure that their contact information is provided.

6. Appendix

This is the concluding section of the business proposal

6.1 Additional Information

End it with a bang by giving out any other relevant information that makes you more attractive and persuasive to the prospective client. For instance; you can include testimonials and customer guarantees. This part calls for creativity; offer information that you are absolutely sure will portray your organisation positively.

How long is a great business proposal?

When it comes to writing a winning business proposal, this the million dollar question that has no definite answer. It will ultimately depend on your particular industry, the scope of the project in question and the client’s specification in terms of elements and details included. The secret to creating an excellent proposal is to focus on being highly-informative, persuasive and to use the right format. In today's technologically advanced business environment, the best format for a winning business proposal is digital, and it should include video and high quality images/graphics. To create high quality digital business proposals, consider using ClientPoint's  award winning web-based proposal software platform for creating, sending, tracking, and managing business proposals and price quotes.

Things to keep in mind when writing a business proposal

* You now know the essentials of writing an exemplary business proposal. Before even starting out ensure you find out what to put under the 3 most important Ps (the problem, proposed solution and pricing). Keep these vital aspects in mind as you write.

* Research extensively because not all prospective clients provide explicit details concerning their wants, needs and expectations.

* Put yourself in the shoes of the potential client when writing the business proposal. This will come in handy in ensuring you provide relevant information

With these indispensable tips, you will definitely create a winning business proposal.

 

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 award-winning Proposal Software. It makes creating and formatting professional business proposals, price quotes, and contracts fast and easy. It also provides a full online proposal tracking and management system.

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