How to write a business proposal

A business proposal is a document that companies of any size send to potential customers with the intention of gaining work, selling services or products, and often signals the start of a professional relationship. Business proposals contain an offer to provide a specific service and at a bare minimum include details like the scope of work and the costs involved.

Business proposals are a type of sales document, as you are ultimately trying to win or close a deal when you send one. Because of this, business proposal writing is a required skill of any salesperson.

This article will discuss the basics of business proposals, why you and your business need them, and some writing tips.

When do you need to write a business proposal?

The main goal of writing a business proposal is to close business, so unless you’ve already hit your monthly quota or you’re at capacity with your workload, then you’ve got solid reasons for writing and sending business proposals.

In most cases, companies will create and send proposals in response to something called a request for proposal (RFP). If you receive an RFP and are interested in the work described, then it’s time to start putting together your proposal.

Responding to an RFP

Many companies and government agencies send out RFPs when they have a problem they need to resolve. For example, an electronics company may send out an RFP to multiple suppliers about an order for a special project.

The RFP includes details of the required work, the project budget, as well as the type of project and types of proposals expected. The amount of detail varies from company to company, so each one needs to be treated independently.

When a company has sent you an RFP, they are clearly interested in your services and can be considered as ‘hot leads’. This makes a business proposal sent in response to an RFP a valuable opportunity to make a sale, so you want to get it right.

How to prepare

A big part of creating any effective business proposal is the preparation phase. Make sure you spend adequate time getting to know the company you are proposing to and that you fully understand the problem you are helping them to solve.

A blanket proposal that isn’t tailored to the recipient or their problem is not going to hit the spot very often. When responding to an RFP you may have all the information you need already, but if not, then don’t hesitate to ask questions and find out more useful details.

You could even research the opposition that may have already sent proposals to your target company. Knowing what they are likely to be offering gives you the upper hand and enables you to mold your approach accordingly.

Structuring the proposal

Now you need to structure a winning proposal. This part of the process varies depending on the specific situation, but there are a few pieces that are pretty universal:

Follow a clear and logical structure

By sticking to a clean and simple layout, the reader will easily digest your proposal and is more likely to accept it. If the document is all over the place then your at risk of distracting your recipient and they may consider choosing a competitor over your solution.

Start with a cover page

The first thing your potential clients should see is a cover/title page. The cover page should include the title of the project, your name and company name and your prospective customer’s name and business name. You may also consider adding additional contact information or even the date you are sending the proposal.

Identify the challenge

In addition to the cover page you might also want to consider a cover letter or summary. The purpose of this section is to clearly identify the challenge you will solve for the prospect and a little about how you will execute on this promise. This section gives the proposal context and shows the reader that you are focussed in your approach.

Provide any necessary details

In the main body of the proposal, you should give details about the products or services you are providing and expected costs and expenses. This should be presented in a way so that the recipient clearly understands and is hopefully impressed with the plan you are proposing.

Remember to keep the proposal focussed on the pain your prospect is experiencing and any other elements should be tailored to this focus. Consider including pricing information in the form of a pricing table, as well as timelines of the project to show when you will execute the proposal.

Give a summary

Provide a quick project summary, either at the start (like an abstract) or towards the end of the proposal. This project proposal outline can help hurried readers identify the main themes of your proposal easily.

Terms and conditions

It’s often a good idea to include your terms and conditions at the end of the proposal or even a include a link to them at the end of your proposal. By including them at the end, they won’t be a distraction from the other elements of your proposal.

How to write a business proposal using PandaDoc

As we’ve discussed, writing a good business proposal is very important for almost any company.

It’s also very difficult to produce an effective one from scratch, particularly if you don’t have much experience creating them to begin with.

Fortunately, PandaDoc has developed innovative proposal software to help companies build effective business proposals and other business documents in a fraction of the time.

  1. Click ‘New Document’ in the upper right corner of your Dashboard.
  2. To start editing, choose a business proposal template from the list or start with a blank template.
  3. Build your business proposal with our intuitive document builder. Drag and drop eye-catching content and images from your content library. Embed videos and images, signature and drop down fields, text blocks, and more. Customize your proposal to your prospect in minutes.
  4. Add data from your favorite CRM automatically with one of our out-of-the-box integrations.

Now you’re ready to send!

With PandaDoc you can have your very own, fully-customized, professional business proposal ready in no time. After you send your recipient can electronically sign and then you can track and follow-up on the proposal all from within the PandaDoc app.

Make your business proposals stand out

Business proposals are crucial to any business. If you can create a professional-looking, tailored proposal, then you’re well on your way to winning more deals and increasing your effectiveness.

Companies like yours benefit from software like PandaDoc that helps you to build, send, track, and eSign high-quality business proposals with minimal effort.