The need for a business proposal is obvious. The proposal leads to the opportunity for better understanding between the customer and the seller. The proposal does not cost anything, it is just a document that can save you thousands of dollars in explaining what your product or service offers, how it will be delivered and who will be involved.
Business proposals can be a great help when it comes to starting your own business. If you want to succeed, you need to know how to write a business proposal that will convince potential investors that you are the answer they are looking for. The first thing you need is an idea, which should be short and concise. Next would come research about your competitors so that your proposal will be unique enough to stand out from the rest.
First things’s first: What is a business proposal?
A proposal is a business pitch presentation for an idea or product. Business proposals are often used to pitch new products or services to potential customers, but they can also be used by startups to pitch investors. Proposals are similar to pitch decks in that they are visual representations of the proposed idea or product.
It usually begins with an executive summary section that describes the potential opportunity, the prospects involved, and the key points in the proposal. The next section should describe what’s needed from each party to complete this project together. A business proposal should also include financial information about what will be spent and how much revenue can be anticipated.
What is the difference between business proposal and a business plan?
A business proposal is much shorter than a business plan, and it does not include much detail about the company’s financial status or other key information about its day-to-day operations. This type of document is typically used by vendors to promote their products or services to potential customers.
A business plan, on the other hand, provides significant detail about the company’s financial outlook and features a great deal of information about how the company would operate where it is to get funding or investment.
Both the business proposal and the business plan are documents that are used for presenting a company’s idea to potential investors or clients, but they each have their own unique characteristics.
A business proposal is an abbreviated overview of a company’s business, including its corporate structure, management team, competitive edge, production strategy, and financial projections.
The business plan is more comprehensive in nature and includes detailed information on how the company will operate in the marketplace.
A business proposal is often only a single document that outlines an idea or project, and may not include many other important elements such as the financial impact.
A business plan is significantly more detailed and includes a comprehensive list of actionable steps to achieve the company’s goals. This includes projected growth and detailed financial performance, but also human resource and operational plans for the future.
What is the difference between business proposal and quote?
Business proposals and quotes are two different types of documents that differ in scope and purpose. While a business proposal is a document that outlines an idea for a project, the quote is the price quote for completing the said project.
A business proposal usually goes into detail about how the project will be executed and what the benefits to the client will be.
The quote, on the other hand, generally consists of information regarding pricing and services offered with no details about execution.
A business proposal is a document that is typically more detailed than a quote. A business proposal offers an overview of the customer’s needs, the type of product or service, estimated costs, and time frame.
A quote is shorter and contains less detail. A quote provides an estimate of the price for the customer’s desired product or service but does not include other necessary information like timeframe or vendor qualifications.
Checklist for writing a business proposal
Here’s a step-by-step checklist for writing a proposal
|Checklist for proposal writing|
|Details of the applying organization|
|Name of the client you’re applying to|
|Proposal activities before drafting|
|Schedule a brief meeting with the client|
|Identify their score in your ideal client profile|
|Research what they need and what results they are expecting to get|
|Ask them about their decision-makers|
|Discuss and develop the budget|
|Create an outline of your project proposal|
|Cover letter/executive summary|
|Project goals and overview|
|Scope of services|
|Project deliverables and timeline|
|Terms of services|
|Activities before the submission|
|Send your proposal for proofreading|
|Review it up to three times|
|Make changes as per the feedbacks|
|Begin internal routine like approval and signature|
|Congratulate yourself and your proposal development team on a successful project proposal development process|
|Submit the project proposal|
Prepare your business proposal in 4 steps
Step 1: Talk with your client to find out what they want
The better you know your prospect the better your sales proposal is going to be.
Each prospect is like an individual Rubik’s cube that you’ve to solve. Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier to understand your prospect. Let’s explore one by one,
- Research your client’s business
- Identify their decision-makers
- Research the competition
- Identify their business KPIs and goals
Step 2: Verify the communication
To avoid misunderstanding always repeat what the client says to verify whether you’ve understood what they wanted. If you talked over the phone, write the summary of your conversation in an email, send it over, and ask them to confirm the information.
Remember to include as many important details as possible to avoid any further surprises.
Step 3: Get the right set of tools to make your job easier
Writing a sales proposal is like doing a high-school assignment, it’s not your favorite part to do but then you have to do it. Even though composing business proposals is an inevitable part of any marketer’s life, it shouldn’t have to be that painful. You can find ways to make that process much easier.
Thanks to the online proposal management tool, it saves you from the hassle of editing/ writing frustrations of traditional MS Word kinds of tools.
Step 4: Create a proposal outline and start customizing/writing your proposal
A formal proposal provides a way for entrepreneurs to make clear what they need and to convince investors of the merits of going forward with it.
We’ve laid out an outline of a winning business proposal
Proposal cover page
You only get one chance to make a first impression. The cover page of your proposal is the first thing your prospect/sales lead is going to see hence you better make it impressive. A cover page of your business proposal should look visually appealing, neat, and should be easy to read.
The cover letter section is the first thing your prospect will go through before they read your proposal. That’s why you need to make sure that you set your expectations from the start.
The goal of a letter for your proposal is to establish a partnership with the client. In other words, its purpose is to give the teaser of your services, convince them to read the rest of the proposal and hire you as a service provider.
A proposed problem and a solution
Before your prospect decides whether to buy your services or not, you must explain precisely what exactly you’re offering. And there is a dedicated section to help you set out all the necessary information – Scope of Services.
The services section of your proposal is not just about clarifying what you can do for your prospect but it’s also about outlining how your company stands out from your competition. This section should include the details about your approach. You should be ultra-careful about not going into detail.
A realistic timeline
You must break down all the key steps and the timeline for your client. Providing an accurate timeline with deliverables allows you to set the client’s expectations early. That means how and when you will be able to implement your solution.
You should always refer to this section as an “investment” instead of pricing because with your services/product your prospects are going to generate revenue and grow their business. And it’s important to remind the client of that. The fees you charge should be considered as an investment in their business.
Keep things short and to the point and use a pricing table with a range of options that let your prospect or customer edit the quantities, select the services that best fit their needs, and allow them to customize your solution.
Present your expertise
You can fill out this section with the expertise you have, who will be working with him/her, are you a known vendor in the market, whether for all good reasons, etc., the awards you won, the big list of your happy clients.
Do not forget to add vision and values because these two aspects have a long-lasting impact beyond the proposal. Clients would pay extra for the reliability factor once they realize you have principles, values, vision; and you stick to those values in all weathers.
It is one of the brilliant ways to promote your business. Because people love reading stories about other people and when you tell them how you’ve helped your previous clients solve a problem, they tend to quickly relate to it because they’ve got the same problems.
A great case study in your proposal gives prospective clients a real insight into the benefits of your services and also an idea of what it’s like to work with you.
Always keep the contract and your terms and conditions part of your proposal and get them signed together to avoid future conflict.
That’s it! It’s time to break the routine and create something exciting. Now get up and start using visuals in your business proposals. I can’t wait to see you close those awesome deals with your glamorous-looking sales proposal.
Creative business proposal ideas
Building a successful business is not an easy task. But, with creativity and a well thought out business proposal, it can be done. There are many ways to make a creative business proposal; the possibilities are endless. To start, one might want to think about what sets their company apart from the rest of the competition. It could be anything from what they offer to who they employ or even how they market themselves. In order to gain a competitive edge in this tough economy, business owners are looking for creative ways to present their latest proposals to potential customers.
Boost your visual appeal with graphic design
Graphics let you present all the complicated facts and figures that you want to convey easily and quickly. To get the most out of graphics, it’s important to make use of the right blend of colors, design, and layout.
Personalize a proposal cover page
Personalizing a proposal cover page is a powerful way to show your potential client that you care about the work and see it as a personal project. This is an excellent way to make a connection with your audience and convince them of the quality of your work before they even read the proposal.
Don’t forget to include a case study
Case studies are an important topic for proposal writers to address in their proposals. Case studies allow future clients to envision themselves in the proposed success. It also allows the proposal writer to show that they have experience with similar cases in the past, and are able to provide solutions. They are a way of demonstrating expertise in an area without being too specific or disclosing information.
A creative call to action
One way to ensure that you are making the most compelling argument possible is by providing a creative call-to-action that will captivate your reader and convince them that you are the right choice for their business.