Do you need to write winning business proposals? Are you struggling with proposal submissions that aren’t accomplishing your goals?
A badly written business proposal won’t win any clients and will hurt your long-term business objectives. In this article, we show you five tips for writing a business proposal that won’t be instantly shredded by potential clients.
What Is A Business Proposal?
The term business proposal is used synonymously with other processes, such as business plans, estimates (projected costs), and quotes (fixed costs).
A business proposal will include information similar to bids and quotes but is more detailed and comprehensive in scope. It’s a detailed plan to offer your services to prospective clients.
Proposal submissions have three main goals: Inform clients you understand their business needs, provide details on your services and demonstrate how these services will fulfill their needs.
Business proposals are generally used to help clients complete a project. Or it can provide complex services. For example, a construction company can use a business proposal to win a building contract with a hotel chain.
Tips For Writing Proposal Submissions
The best proposal submissions are:
- Error-free (accurate grammar, spelling, and factual information)
- Clear and concise (no fluff, convoluted sentences, or extraneous wording)
- Well-detailed (specific numbers, dates, and other precise info)
- Consistent (no stated information contradicts subsequent info)
- Comprehensive (addresses the project from start to finish)
The business proposal design should be custom-tailored to your client. A cookie-cutter business proposal will be easy to spot.
It also won’t include the specific information needed to assure your clients you understand their company and their goals.
1. Do Your Research
When learning how to do a business proposal, research is always the first step. You cannot propose your services without knowing the client and their needs first. Factors to research include:
- Their company background
- Their values and goals
- Their project scope, size, and budget
- Any problems and/or unfulfilled services to address
Business proposals can be unsolicited and solicited. With an unsolicited business proposal, you approach the client first. Your proposal submissions will include their problem and how you will solve it.
A solicited business proposal generally refers to when a potential client submits a Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP).
What is an RFQ or RFP? Clients use these documents to evaluate potential vendors or contractors by explaining their company and project needs. With these requests, much of their background research is already done for you.
2. Specify Measurable Goals And Terms
A vague business proposal will be easy to write but is just as easily discarded.
A client doesn’t want to read a proposal claiming you can save them money. They also want to know the specifics of where, how much, how, why, and where the money will be saved.
Proposal submissions should include some version of SMART goals:
- Specific (what and where)
- Measurable (how much)
- Achievable (how)
- Relevant (why)
- Time-based (when)
Potential clients can receive multiple business proposals for a project. They will want specific numbers they can compare to other proposals, such as how long the work will take and how much it will cost.
Clients will also compare contract terms, such as deposits, cancellation fees, and time limits.
If this information is understated or missing, a potential client may go with someone else offering worse terms that are at least clearly stated.
3. Offer Something Unique
Chances are most business proposals your client receives are going to be similar. Your proposal submission needs to catch the eye of a client sifting through multiple documents and submissions.
Compared to industry competition, you could offer unique contract terms or services that won’t be included in other proposals. Or you could include special perks, services, and other add-ons that aren’t usually offered.
You can also add unique elements to your business proposal so it’s more noticeable and memorable than other submissions. These elements can include:
- Case studies illustrating your past work
- Digital formats with multimedia (video, audio, interactive elements)
- Creative visuals (timelines, roadmaps, flowcharts)
- Data visualizations (charts, graphs, tables)
A business proposal design that incorporates media and graphics will distinguish itself from proposals that are featureless walls of text. It can also help your client conceptualize timetables, budgets, and other project scales.
4. Use Technological Solutions
Writing a business proposal is complicated and time-consuming. Proposal submissions are complex, detailed, and can require in-depth research for factual information.
For large-scale projects like construction, this means the potential for errors and delays is very high. Many companies offer technological solutions such as construction estimation software (view more here) that reduces human error in cost estimation.
Along with cost estimation, technological solutions can also be used for:
- Cost analysis
- Budget automation
- Data and software integration
- Content management
- Multi-platform viewing
Business proposal software can be as simple as plugging in a template with saved data or integrating your existing business software to generate proposal documents.
A technological solution reduces your time and effort spent on proposal submissions. It can also ensure more accuracy with data and data analysis.
5. Stick to Your Outline
Your proposal submission is going to include a plethora of information for potential clients. A disorganized business proposal will be confusing and overwhelming.
If your business proposal has a subpar presentation, all your research, measurable goals, unique elements, and accurate information will count for nothing. Your potential clients probably won’t even read it.
Your business proposal will be tailored to your industry, your client, and your services. But a business proposal will include some version of these basics:
- The project or service needed
- Your solutions and services
- Past work and testimonials
- Contract terms and conditions
Depending on how lengthy and intricate your business proposal needs to be, you can include cover pages and a table of contents for more organization. Many proposals include an executive summary.
Smart Business Solutions For Smart Businesses
Writing winning proposal submissions isn’t easy, but it can be easier with the right know-how. There are many tips and tricks to propel your business proposal to the top of the document pile.
For more business-savvy tips and tricks, check out our articles in the business and eCommerce sections.