A business proposal is critical for forming new relationships to grow your business. A well-written proposal can make a difference in winning or losing prospective clients or customers.
When looking for new customers, a business proposal is a formal document that provides essential details of your goals and plans.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a formal document you provide to a prospective client to obtain a business agreement.
Business-to-business or business-facing companies commonly use this document to persuade prospective buyers to purchase their services or goods.
This proposal aims to gain business, not sell the company itself. This document is unlike a business plan because an individual writes it to seek new customers instead of new investors.
When to Use a Business Proposal
You should use a business proposal to grow your business and solicit new customers. You are contacting potential clients to see if you could work together to further your mutual goals.
Whether the proposal was solicited or unsolicited, you want to create a compelling proposition laying out your business’s essential details.
Types of Business Proposals
Explore the three primary types:
Solicited Business Proposal
A solicited proposal is one that the potential customer or client seeks via a request for proposal (RFP). Your company then provides the business proposal it asked for.
You may also provide a business proposal upon receiving a request for information (RFI) or a request for a quote (RFQ) to provide the customer with additional information about your offerings.
Clients may come to you to see if you’d be an appropriate vendor for their situation. A solid business proposal can help you answer their request and win business.
Unsolicited Business Proposal
You send unsolicited business proposals to customers when they have not explicitly asked for them. Your company is reaching out to attempt to gain new business with your submission.
As long as you target an unsolicited business proposal appropriately and clearly state the benefits of working with your business, you can experience success with an unsolicited offer.
Continuation or Renewal of Business Proposal
A continuation or renewal of business proposal lets you continue working with an existing client to update or extend an agreement’s terms.
Business Proposal Examples
If you’re looking for a business proposal example, explore some below:
A grant proposal helps a business gain funding to keep its operations going. Non-profit organizations usually implement this proposal, but it can also benefit some for-profit organizations.
- Target audience: An evaluation committee.
- How to write: Emphasize how your organization will use the funds to continue its mission.
- What to highlight: How you’ll measure success with the funding you use.
This document lets you highlight how you’ll put on an event for a business, such as a conference, convention, or important meeting.
- Target audience: Company leaders.
- How to write: Include how the event will help improve business for the client.
- What to highlight: The unique features you offer that will make the event memorable for attendees.
A traditional or social media marketing proposal can help you explain how you’ll advertise for a client, whether for a specific event or an ongoing relationship.
- Target audience: Clients who want to expand their reach.
- How to write: Explain your methods and how you can help clients meet their outreach goals.
- What to highlight: Your tried-and-true approach to marketing or similar clients.
A sales proposal lets you sell your product or service to another business. Your sales process may be different for various clients, so be sure to tailor each proposal accordingly.
- Target audience: Companies in need of products or services to improve their operations.
- How to write: Explain how your products/services will fulfill an absent need.
- What to highlight: The value your offerings provide over competitors’.
A construction project proposal helps you communicate the construction services you can offer to a client.
- Target audience: Clients who want to build or expand a structure for their operations.
- How to write: Communicate your process and timeline.
- What to highlight: The value and commitment to quality you offer.
How to Write a Business Proposal
Step 1 – Begin With a Title Page
The title page should introduce your company’s basic information. Include the following elements on your title page:
- Business address
- The date you submitted the proposal
- Your contact details
Step 2 – Provide a Project Overview
The project overview provides a quick summary of what your company does. It will address why the company is well-suited to engage in business and deliver the client’s desired goods or services.
Talk about the service/product details. Present any challenges the client may face while they conduct their operations and how you can help address them with your offerings.
Step 3 – Include an Executive Summary
The executive summary outlines why you are sending this proposal and why your solution is best for your prospective client.
Be specific in this section. Address the needs of the individual client. Outline the benefits of your company’s services and products and how they will solve the client’s problems.
You want to show that you bring something unique to the table. Show why this business should pick your proposal instead of the others they have received.
Step 4 – Share Your Qualifications
A client may not know your business before receiving your proposal. Attach social proof to convince them to work with you. Consider including industry awards, relevant case studies, and client testimonials to make a strong case for your company.
Step 5 – Add Project Details
A business proposal should include the necessary details of your proposed project. This description helps the client see how you will address their scope of work and meet their unique goals and objectives.
Step 6 – Specify a Timeline
Include the steps you plan to take if the client decides to work with your company. This way, they’ll know what to expect and understand your readiness.
Step 7 – Include the Budget and Financial Details
Pricing projects is essential to a successful business proposal. You must explore your pricing strategy and understand what you will charge for goods or services.
Propose a price that’s attractive to prospective clients but is appropriate for your bottom line.
This section is adaptable to your business’s needs. The sale of goods or services requires different pricing terms. A customizable business proposal template allows you to create a document that fits your needs.
Step 8 – Highlight the Terms and Conditions
Lay out any additional terms and conditions you want both parties to follow.
Step 9 – Acquire Signatures
Finish this document by signing it yourself and obtaining the receivers’ signatures. With the client’s approval, you can proceed with offering your products or services.
Writing and Design Tips
Here are some writing and design tips to maintain professionalism in your proposal:
Ensure your messaging remains consistent. Only offer what your company normally provides, and avoid making extravagant promises you can’t fulfill.
Make Your Proposal Clear and Succinct
Keep your proposal professional and reserved. This way, you can center the focus on what you have to offer without distracting visual elements interfering with your message.
An effective business proposal provides comprehensive information succinctly. It’s not overly wordy, and you don’t need to share every piece of information about your business.
Personalize Your Proposal
Research your proposal’s recipient so you can understand their unique challenges. Personalize your proposal to clarify why you’re the best business to work with, ensuring you distinguish your offerings from your competitors’ products or services.
Conduct Quality Control
Before you send your proposal, you can check that it:
- Meets clients’ needs and expectations
- Includes your value proposition
- Is easy to read/skim
- Complies with regulatory, ethical, and legal requirements
If you send unsolicited proposals, follow up professionally and be prepared for rejection.
Incorporate a Call-to-Action
Incorporate a call-to-action so the recipient knows what steps to take if they want to work with your business.
Add a Table of Contents
If your business proposal is long, consider adding a table of contents so readers can easily find different sections.
Business Proposal Sample
Download a free business proposal template in PDF or Word format below:
Frequently Asked Questions
What information should I include in a business proposal?
A well-written business proposal should include the following elements:
- A title and table of contents
- An introduction and executive summary
- Your qualifications and why you will meet the customer’s needs
- Pricing, billing, and legal information
- Proposed solutions and description of goods or services
What’s the difference between a business plan and a business proposal?
The difference between a business plan and a business proposal is their purpose. A business plan outlines how a business will accomplish its goals, while a business proposal aims to acquire customers for its products or services.
What’s the purpose of a business proposal?
A business proposal aims to convince a potential client (usually a business) to buy the products/services you offer. As your proposal will typically compete with rival companies, you must use yours to show how you differentiate and demonstrate the value you can provide to the potential customer.
How long should I make my business proposal?
How many pages your business proposal should be depends on how much information you need to communicate to a potential client.
You should always try to be succinct, but you must include all the points the ideal buyer needs to know about your business. The length of the proposal often comes down to the project’s complexity.
Keep your information concise and avoid filler content. Using a simple business proposal template is an effective way to ensure you don’t under or over-sell yourself.