The Ultimate Business Proposal Checklist

July 14, 2016

Writing a business proposal is perhaps one of the most critical things an entrepreneur should learn. It is what spells the difference between failure and success, and can quickly make or break a sales deal. Your business proposal is not just a document; rather it’s a dynamic tool meant to persuade your prospective client.

Write a good one and you will most likely clinch the deal. Write a poor one and you might just lose out to your competitors, even if you have the best product out there. The truth is- there are no special ingredients for writing a business proposal; there are no rules either. It doesn’t need to have every bell or whistle (

The only thing that actually lies between you and a contract is an individualized and compelling set of chosen figures and words ( So to help you make a lasting footprint on your next prospect, we compiled a business proposal checklist that will significantly improve your close ratio and win you a client.

1. The Cover Letter

Writing a good cover letter can get your foot in the door, even before the rest of the information is read ( Oftentimes, the cover letter gives you the chance to introduce yourself or your company. At the very minimum, you want to create curiosity to make the reader want to read the entire proposal. A good cover letter will get you enough time to convince the client why you have the best solution. So apart from introducing your company, also offer a summary of what is contained in the main proposal.

2. The Opening Statement

The opening statement is probably the simplest two or three sentences of the entire proposal, but don’t underestimate its power. Writing it without much consideration can leave the impression of unprofessionalism in the mind of your prospect- and that’s definitely the last impression you want to put across. This part should include a sincere note of thank you as well as an enthusiastic statement regarding your interest in giving a solution that will meet the needs of the client. View it as a chance to warm up to your client so they will be open to receiving the rest of the proposal.

3. Executive Summary

In this section, you need to be clear about who you are and what is significant about you or your company. Give all company’s details including background, credentials and achievements. You should also be clear in stating why your product is different- could be quality, skills, technology or experience. ( In short, say how what you want to offer will make a difference and why you are the best candidate. However, be modest with your choice of words as you do not want to send a braggart or egoist message to your potential client.

4. The Scope of the Job

The primary objective of submitting a business proposal is to offer a solution to a problem faced by the client. This part has to be the most anticipated part, both for you and your prospect. Most clients will decide whether or not they are going to read the rest of the proposal just by reading this section. It should include a few sentences summarizing the client’s needs in a simple manner. This is very vital because you cannot expect to seal a deal if you don’t even know what the problems are ( The main goal is to show your understanding of the needs and propose a solution to address the specific needs.

5. The Detailed Job Description

This section is where you go into the details of the project-explaining how you are going to do what you are proposing to do. Outline how you are going to handle the project from the beginning to end, highlighting anything notable that makes you stand out from competition. Ensure that you make it realistic with sound projections and accurate statistics-stating any relevant time frames and deadlines. Make it brief but with enough detail to enable your client make an informed decision. This section simply helps you set out expectations early enough, so the prospect knows what he is approving beforehand. (

6. Team Members and Product Deliverables

For you to win the job, the people and products you plan to use cannot be left to guesswork ( This section is where you go into some level of detail explaining the team members who will be behind the success of the project as well as the tangible items you will deliver. Identify the team members and include a short resume for each. This way, the client will not only know the team but individual members. The best way to make this part presentable is to use clear and concise bullet points.

7. Budget Expectations

For most clients, the budget information is what will make them decide whether to offer you a contract or not ( Knowing the cost expectations upfront will help you breeze through this part, but the pricing section has proven to be a pain for many. How you write this part depends greatly on the solutions you offered in the previous section.

If the solution proposed will serve for a short period, an itemized fee summary will do. The best thing about an itemized cost description is that you can always remove individual items from the proposal in case the client wants a reduction in the total price. However, it is important to understand that reducing your initial price might give the impression that you are unsure of what you are offering. If you’re going to give a budget, make sure you are confident about every price you put forward (

If the solution proposed will serve for a long period, you can segment the payment to periodic milestones. A useful budget will help you create a long-term financial action plan. This will serve several useful functions, particularly if you are providing information decisions based on the costs linked to each of your activities.

8. The ROI Section

If you want to convince the client to award you a contract, a well-organized strategic return on investment section is a must. It shows your potential and demonstrates how the business will create a return on investment. No prospect will offer money to an operation that doesn’t have a clear plan to assure return on investment. ( If need be, ensure that your client clearly understands how the solution will either save her money or make her money.

9. An Expression of Gratitude

It may seem pointless, but an expression of gratitude is a simple courtesy that costs nothing in most situations, but might cost you a contract in a business deal. This section gives you an opportunity to thank the client for taking the time to read through your proposal. Also, linking your solutions to this part will improve your chances of getting the contract.

10. Client Testimonials

Finally, include a testimonial from an existing client that speaks about the results your solution has provided. Testimonials are one of the most important confidence signals you can use on your proposal. ( Adding this single element will make a strong final impression on your prospect and quadruple your chances of closing. A positive testimonial can influence even the most hesitant candidate, making them a powerful weapon in your pitch.


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