How to Write a Business Proposal, Plus Examples

Posted on April 3, 2024 | Updated on June 11, 2024

A business proposal allows entrepreneurs to present a product or service to another company. A formal one comes in the form of a written report. However, sometimes people pitch proposals in an elevator, over dinner meetings or via a phone call. 

At some point in the agreement process, a written business proposal typically occurs. Knowing what you should include and seeing some examples can help you maintain a professional edge and stand out from the competition. 

Solicited or Unsolicited Business Proposal

Business proposals can come in two forms: solicited and unsolicited. A solicited proposal happens when a potential client asks for a proposal. It could be a current client wanting additional products or services. Perhaps it is a referral from someone you know. Solicited proposals tend to be more personalized and to the point.

Growing your business in a competitive market might be a bit challenging and require stepping outside your comfort zone. The small business outlook is positive for 2024. In a survey of small businesses in the United States, approximately 40% said they had job openings. Around 18% planned to increase employment in 2024. 

An unsolicited proposal is the written variant of a cold call. You see a company that would benefit from what you offer, so you write up a proposal and send it to them. 

With unsolicited documents, you have to grab user attention as well as show them the benefits. You’ll need bold headlines and an understanding of the company you’re sending the information to. You should also follow up with a phone call to ensure they got the proposal and add the human touch. 

What should a business proposal include? 

1. Create a Title Page

Your title page should grab attention and make the user want to read the proposal. Consider everything from the color selection to the words in the title to any subheadings.

There is an entire psychology behind color choices. For example, if you want to create a feeling of trust, use shades of blue. To grab attention and create excitement, opt for red. 

At the same time, consider what the proposals of competitors might look like. Do they use their company color palette? You’ll want to choose different hues that make your proposal pop in a sea of other offers. 

Tweak the wording of your title page until it is an action statement about what your offer is. Keep adjusting it until it fits the page and says what you want. The potential client should be able to discern your offer in a single glance. 

2. Share Your Mission

Why do you do what you do? At the core of a company’s mission statement is the passion that drove them to start the brand in the first place. Perhaps you were raised by a single parent and now you want to create a product that helps single parents find dependable and safe child care. 

Your passion and purpose is what sets you apart from every other brand like yours. Don’t be afraid to create a paragraph or two explaining your uniqueness. 

3. Focus on the Pain Point 

Your business proposal should include the problem, or pain point, the user faces. Once you identify the issue and the emotions driving it, it’s much easier to speak to your audience. The business owner will feel understood when you present the problem in terms they relate to.

Here are some examples of pain point statements you can hone in on:

  • You need more time to get everything done.
  • Your customers want a reliable service.
  • Keeping your employees safe is a top concern.

Your pain point statements are going to vary, depending on who the business proposal is aimed at. Do your research on the company and person you’re sending the document to and you’ll better understand how to focus this part of your proposal.

4. Offer Your Solution

What do you plan to do about their pain point? Your solution should be thorough but easy to implement. The average business owner has so many irons in the fire, they don’t have time to hold your hand and pay you for a service. They want a complete solution that does the work for them and frees up their time.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading the proposal. Why should they care about this offer? Consider anything it might be missing, such as an implementation plan or follow-up. 

There are over 31 million small businesses in the United States. Each has its own personality. Make sure you understand your lead before finishing your proposal. 

The solution part of your offer is your chance to sell your product. You may even want your sales team to go back over this section and ensure it hits all the high notes that might land a sale. 

5. Outline the Benefits of Choosing You

How does choosing you over your competitors benefit the customer? Take the time to research your competition as well. What are their unique value propositions? Which selling points can you match? List what you do better.

Include a chart showing what you offer and what your competitors offer. Add visual aids such as green checks to indicate the client gets more for their money when choosing you over them. 

For example, you might write:

  • We are rated the top in the industry for customer service.
  • 99.9% of our clients return because our value is that great.
  • Our company has clear pricing and no surprise charges.

Think through why you’re better and brag about it in this section of your proposal. 

6. Show Clear Pricing

CEOs often have a budget in mind for specific services and products. Crunch numbers for them and give them a bottom line. It’s okay to also list add ons should they need further services, but they need to know what they get for X dollars.

Think of your pricing section as a pre-invoice. If they agree to the proposal, you would almost copy and paste the data into your invoice to them. Surprising clients with additional charges later will build a bad rapport and could harm your reputation for transparency.

7. Add a Conclusion

The final section of your proposal should be a conclusion. Summarize what you’ve discussed in the document and add a call to action statement to entice them to sign up. 

If you can add a timed component to get the client moving, so much the better. Here are some examples:

  • Sign up by X date and get a free initial assessment and report!
  • Call us and start saving money now.
  • Let us help you. Schedule an appointment in this calendar.

There are many ways to close out your proposal. Just make sure you end with an action the user should take.

Just Start Writing Your Business Proposal

The task of writing a business proposal that sells may seem daunting at first. However, the more you work on these projects, the easier they’ll become. You’ll intuitively know what works with a certain client type. Get something on paper and then you can always adjust it.

The most crucial part of writing a business proposal lies outside the document itself. Follow-up is the key in the industry. If you send a proposal and never pick up the phone or drop by the company office, you’ve left the door open for competitors to swoop in. Make sure you’re the one who closes the deal. 

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