A business proposal is a formal sales document. It is a written document that is sent to prospective clients to sell products or services, and it outlines the terms of the sale. It can be unsolicited meaning it’s a sales presentation, or solicited meaning a business asks for the proposal (https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/business-proposals.html).
In this article, we discuss how to pitch, propose and persuade when writing a business proposal.
The Structure of a Business Proposal
A proposal has two main parts namely; the cover letter and the proposal document. It could also have attachments and appendices or a letter proposal that combines the details of the two parts.
The Cover Letter
A cover letter acts as a transmittal document that gives a preview of the presentation in abbreviated forms. It outlines the qualifications of the bidder, critical figures and desired objectives (https://proposal.staging.wpengine.com/how-to-write-an-attention-grabbing-business-proposal-cover-letter/).
The Proposal Document
The format of every proposal document varies depending on the purpose, audience, and goals. It covers the following areas.
Title Page- It presents your name and company, client’s name and company, and date of submission.
Table of Contents- It is important for big and complex proposals. It helps when different departments of a company need to review the application. It lists the headings of various parts and topics therein.
This section could be included in the cover letter or the tender document. It holds the fundamentals of the proposed business. For some, it acts as the introduction and provides answers to the following questions:
-What is the nature of the product?
-Who are your target audience/ customers?
-Who are the owners?
-What does the future hold for your business and industry? (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-write-a-compelling-executive-summary.html).
This part highlights the company description, statement, and background of the problem. The company description usually includes the mission statement, business goals and objectives. For instance, the goal could be to become a market leader in customer service and gain loyal customers. The objective could be about yearly sales targets and evaluation of customer satisfaction. In short, a business philosophy hinges on what the business means to you.
Additionally, you can describe your target market, your industry’s short and long term trends and how your company responds to them. The introduction should also outline the strengths and core competencies of the enterprise including:
-The company’s success factors,
-Your competitive advantages,
-Background experience, skills, and stress strengths you expect to bring to the business.
Additionally, you can also outline the legal form of ownerships; it could be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or Limited Liability Corporation. Here, you can give the background information of the proposal stating whether it was a request, the history of your involvement, and the previous solutions.
Clarify phrases and jargon that could confuse readers and mention the key terms of the recipient if you are responding to an RFP to show your level of seriousness (https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-write-a-winning-proposal.html).
Statement of the problem
This part lists the client’s objectives and goals according to the bidder’s interpretation. The details are very important because they show the bidder’s awareness of the issue.
Plan of Work/ Approach
This section is the key to winning the job and should present the gist of your proposal to solve the client’s problem. It should show the unique means, modes of thought, techniques and why they will address the problem. Discuss the benefits of the solution here in bullet form and support your claims with evidence to establish credibility and convenience of the recipient. Conduct research and reference related studies; quote experts, use statistics, cite sources and use knowledgeable figures (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/21834).
This part details the implementation of the approach. It could be a marketing plan followed by an operation program. A marketing plan contains market research; it should be particular with statistical data. It is the expected basis of the all-important sales projections and must, therefore, expand on the product, competition, strategy, sales forecast, and customers. On the other hand, an operation program explains the daily processes of the business, location, people, equipment and the surrounding environment (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/73946).
This section should focus on the reasons why your proposal should be considered. It outlines your core competencies, previous history, and accomplishments in similar jobs. Give the specific experiences that make you the best candidate. You can also introduce the person who will head the project if you are not qualified to handle it. Include resumes of outside personnel and the specific roles they’ll play. Stress why the reader should receive the proposal and mention specific projects of the company that proves your bid is fitting (https://www .paperlessproposal.com/questions-every-business-proposal-must-answer/).
Schedule and Benchmark
A timeline is important as it denotes the dates and frequency of the principal operations of the job. In addition, you can also identify benchmarks to indicate successful accomplishments of shared objectives.
Budget and Expenses
This is a crucial section as it specifies the budget for the entire project and gives an estimation of what the project will cost. It is critical in that it convinces the reader to accept your project. Here, you should consider both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include employee salaries and costs of materials. Indirect costs include rent and legal fees. Some proposals especially the long and technical ones have a financial plan.
Acknowledge possible obstacles the proposal may face. You should elucidate the possible issue and how it may arise. Also, justify why the benefits of the project can outweigh any opposition that might arise.
Cement the benefits of the proposal here and tell them what you want them to do. It is a call to action and helps you to identify a possible deadline. Explain why this is a perfect time to convince the readers about compliance.
It lists the details and studies used in your proposal and any other additional materials. It could be maps, photos, articles, industry studies, advertising materials, and copies of contracts and leases among others.
The purpose of any proposal is to influence the reader to do something and offer a plan to fill the need. The following are the principles of persuasion in proposal writing (https://hbr.org/1998/05/the-necessary-art-of-persuasion).
-Knowing your facts- After gathering information through research, deliver it in a rational, non-condescending manner but in a humble way.
-Understand your audience- Design your arguments specifically for your target audience.
-Expressing the similarities between you and your audience- Determine your shared beliefs, values, and experiences.
-Stick to the point- Deliver your main points well to stop wasting your reader’s time.
-Maximize the benefits- Identify benefits with the greatest appeal to your audience.
-Call to action- Make it clear, simple and feasible.
Lastly, the most important thing is your commitment to the call of duty. It will validate the effectiveness of your proposal and land you a couple of referrals and consequently more business.
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.