Guidelines for Writing a Great Business Proposal

  • Posted by Adam Hoff
  • 30 May 2018

A good business proposal is what may qualify you to land a new business. It actually is the sales pitch that you present to a client, containing all the solutions to their problem.  The way you write your proposal will determine whether it will be received favorably or frowned upon by the clients you approach. This can be considered as a way to prepare your business for growth. And this is determined by the factors you consider when peening the proposal itself. You will have to think of the audience you are writing for, the format you use and the content it will have. 

This write-up contains key guidelines to help you come up with a great business proposal. It contains useful tools that will help you along the way at each stage. Following these guidelines will produce a strong proposal that will appeal to those you are addressing. Here are the steps towards creating an awesome business proposal to present to prospective clients. 

Step #1: Understand the need

Basically, a business proposal is an offer presented to a client with the intention of providing services that meet that particula r client’s needs. The business proposal should not be confused with a business plan. A business plan is usually a document that details a company’s strategy for meeting its financial and operational goals. 

The business proposal is usually developed upon request form a client. The first step is always made by the client who advertises which services they are in need of at a particular time. The business proposal can hardly be sent as a cold pitch. The reason for this is that it has to address the specific needs of a client. And there is no way you will be aware of such needs unless the client takes time to communicate it. 

Also Read: Learning to say no in your business

Step #2: Preparation

Preparation and planning is an essential part of writing a good business proposal. The time you take to prepare for the task will determine the quality of the document itself. In fact, it’s recommended that you always take more time to prepare than you take writing out the proposal itself. 

During the preparation stage, you will have to consider the audience you are writing to. Gather as much information about the client as possible so as to tailor the proposal specifically to them. Establish also the approach you will use in tackling the client's problem. Sometimes clients require that you include in your proposal what method you will use when working on their problem. This is planned for at the preparation stage. 

Step #3: writing the proposal

After being satisfied that you have all the information you need you can then proceed to write the proposal. The document itself has a particular structure that you should be careful to observe. These are the contents of a good business proposal:

  1. The title: The title of the business proposal should be interesting and captivating. It basically should be a one-sentence summary of what the entire proposal is all about. Always avoid writing some boring titles for the business proposals you send out. In case you are stuck on the title, don’t worry. You can even write it last after you are done with the entire document. You may get just the right idea of a title in the process of writing. Because you are writing for a specific audience, always have in mind how the client would like the title to look like. 

  1. The executive summary: This is a brief summary of the entire document for the busy executive. It includes a presentation of all the key points of the proposal in a compelling manner that will make the executive get a good grasp of the entire document at a glance.  It should be clear, and persuasive as well. This is where the relevant information regarding the proposal is introduced. The approach to be used when solving the client’s problem is also introduced here. 

  1. Opportunity statement: This is the part of the business proposal that seeks to deal with the client’s problem in a deeper way. With the opportunity statement, you discuss the client’s need in detail and propose your solutions as well. The length and depth you go to in discussing the problem will depend on the nature of the need. There are some clients who require that you help them identify exactly what the need is, then suggest your solutions. At this point, it will be important to demonstrate to the client that you understand completely what their problem entails and have the perfect solution for them.

  1. Deliverables and timelines: After you are done with the overview, you will need to specify the deliverables and timelines for the project. This has to do with what the client should expect from you and how long you will take to work on the solution. You should be careful to make everything clear at this juncture so that neither you nor the client will have unreasonable expectations. Always avoid over or under promising.  It’s important to be realistic where timelines are concerned. In case the project takes longer than you anticipated, you should be having enough time to cover for such eventualities. It will be a great idea to identify any possible areas of trouble that you may run into and inform the client so that they are ware. 

  1. Proposed budget: The budget is the most crucial part of a business proposal. It’s actually so important that some clients will read the budget first before considering any other aspect of the proposal. Because of this, you always aim at making the budget accurate, easy to understand and realistic. It’s recommended that you set a fixed price provided it’s tenable for the entire project. There’s also the option of an hourly rate of pay but this may present problems for both you and your client. It’s usually possible to set a value on your work by computing the total project expenditure. An important point to note is the need to have the budget broken down into its constituent elements. The client may find it quite hard to understand and accept a budget that comes in a lump sum without knowing the minor details about it.

  1. Conclusion: The conclusion comes in to wrap everything in a nice way. Just like the introduction, a good conclusion will contribute to the overall appeal of your proposal to the client. 

Also Read: Useful tools for creating business images that are web friendly

Step #4: Review your proposal

After going through all the trouble of creating this important document, it may get rejected by the client because of very simple things that you may have overlooked. That’s why it is important to review your document to ensure that it is free of errors before you send it. Correct any grammatical or spelling errors, ensure that all your facts are right, and format it appropriately to make it easier for the client to read through. 

Here are some additional tips for crafting a winning business proposal. 

Be persuasive but realistic

The purpose of your writing should be to persuade the client to consider you above your competition. You, therefore, will need to use strong and convincing language. Use positive words as much as possible because they tend to have a positive effect on whoever is reading the document.

Keep it short and simple

It should be your goal to keep the business proposal short and simple. Make use of precise words that will convey your meaning easily. Avoid the use of many words to explain a simple idea. Also, endeavor to use definite words to identify the approach you are going to use and the expected results. 

Use active voice

The active voice is the most preferred choice for writing business proposals. It’s usually strong and makes it easier for the reader to get your message

Adopt the right tone.

Most business proposals are written with a professional tone. But the level of formality you employ in your writing will depend on the level of familiarity you enjoy with the client. If you haven’t interacted with them before, it is best to stick to the professional tone.

In conclusion

In a business proposal, you are presented with a unique opportunity to show your skills and ability in meeting the client’s needs. Although it takes effort and hard work to devolve a good proposal, following the guidelines outlined here will make the process much easier for you.