While starting a business, you might go places in a moment, constantly boosting your customer base. But quite often you should bend over backward to get your piece of the pie. So, you might feel like an also-ran, but the prospective collaboration can occur at the drop of the hat. However, waiting for a winning chance is not a good strategy. Instead of doing this, most businesses opt for seeking opportunities. And that is when the skill of writing a business proposal can save your day and probably the deal.
Nonetheless, before passing to the question “how to write an effective proposal?” you should understand the way your business can become a perfect match for a potential customer. The answer is not always obvious as your competitors can do exactly the same, providing almost identical services. But it is no problem if you can describe your services as the ultimate panacea for customer’s needs. So, the business proposal is not only the presentation of what you can do well (or better than competitors). It also takes the lion’s share of persuasion and understanding the demands of your prospective customers or business partners.
As you can see, the success of your business in many ways depends on the ability to put your services in a favorable light. So, how to write a good business proposal? Let’s look into the best tips and strategies!
Before you start working on a winning proposal you need to delve into its format, definition, and core elements. In some cases, your future will depend on whether you can produce an effective paper. While creating a business proposal, there are several aspects to keep in mind. Let’s start with a definition. According to Shopify Encyclopedia, the business proposal implies the following:
“A business proposal is a document that’s designed to persuade an organization to buy a product or service. A proposal is usually solicited or unsolicited – meaning, that the purchasing company is either actively seeking proposals that meet a specific need or is reacting to an offer, often from a sales person, to consider a proposal.”
The unsolicited proposals might stem from informal meetings where people rather seek an agreeable pastime than another business partner. Still, beneficial cooperation is never out of the question. On the other hand, solicited business proposals usually feature formal language full of specific terms and acronyms. So, before sending it, make sure you and your potential partner are on the same page.
The key pillar of a winning proposal is the ability to demonstrate that your products or services are tailored for the demands and requirements of a particular client (or company). This is the most powerful incentive to read your document to the end and put the prospective partnership on the thinking cap. Besides, take into account that the business proposal is different from the business plan that rather focuses on the short-term and long-term corporate objectives. The business proposal, on the other hand, demonstrates how the potential client can benefit from your services.
Another thing to bear in mind is the personalized nature of this document. If you duplicate it and send another customer, changing only the name of the person or company, do not expect welcoming feedback. Despite the type of business proposal, it can be the reaction to the cooperation request or the opportunity you want to seize, offering your services to a particular client. Thus, before composing this document, you should identify and analyze the problems of a prospective partner. If you skip this step, you will not be able to provide an effective proposal. The solution for the problem shapes every business proposal.
Both solicited and unsolicited business proposals have a universal format that may vary in some details but is generally applicable overall. It includes the following elements:
In this part, you should indicate such details as your name, your company’s name, the offeree’s name (or their company), and the date when you send the proposal. No more excessive data.
This part is not always obligatory. You can include it if your proposal is long, formal, and complex. Another situation when this section is necessary is when the offeree is not the only person who is responsible for the decision whether to accept your proposal or not. Quite often, several departments may influence the outcome and therefore observe the document. In this case, the proper navigation will not hurt.
It is a concise overview of the entire document where you sum up key points and provide ways to address the client’s problems. At the stage of reading the executive summary, the person usually understands if they are going to give your proposal a chance or not. It can be placed right after the content or included in the cover letter.
This part demonstrates that you understand the core problems, needs, and business objectives of your prospective partner. These issues should be identified correctly. Herewith, your services should cover them.
This is nearly the most important part of your document where you should represent the solution for the client’s problem. Herewith, this solution can take on a variety of forms. You should describe your services, means, techniques, strategies to address the problem. It is also crucial to show implicitly why your services or products are better than ones provided by the competitors. But refrain from excessive details; they belong to the next section.
Here, you need to elaborate on the procedural aspects, i.e. how you plan to implement the Approach to satisfy the client’s needs. It is essential to avoid ambiguity. Instead, focus on providing sufficient information to help you tilt the balance in your favor.
Your previous experience of completing similar projects or providing effective services/products, qualifications, achievements, and history should convince the offeree that their problems will be properly addressed. This section should enforce the previous ones, leaving no doubt. And you can also include some social proof.
The period of collaboration should be identified to let the client know how long it will take to achieve desirable results. Passing results should also be displayed as success cannot happen from scratch.
This is the concluding part of the document that can be divided into two separate sections. In this section, you should touch upon the price of your products or services and when you expect to receive the payment. If there are any legal aspects to be highlighted, they should be placed here as well.
If you doubt how to format a business proposal, do not hesitate to check the templates and examples.
Writing a winning business proposal is painstaking work. Saying how to create it and producing it are two different things. So, sometimes, it is essential to have a plan B. But if you aim at sharpening your skill of business proposal writing, consider the following tips.
1. The draft goes first
If you need to break the writing block, one of the best strategies is to compose an outline. Firstly, it will help you get rid of anxiety and confusion. Secondly, it will guide you through the writing process. So, do yourself a favor and start with the simple draft. Elaborate on the most appropriate structure for the proposal, taking into account all you know about a prospective customer. Organize the key ideas and insights into the sections and think about your objectives and what words will help you fulfill them.
2. Validate your proposal with stats and visuals
People usually do not trust words written on paper. They trust facts, statistics, and data – things they can verify. However, the business proposal is in no way an accounting statement. Thus, you should do your best to make a reader notice these things. Turn them into your bludgeon by transforming all these stats and facts into visuals – graphs, charts, figures, infographics, and even video (if you send your proposal via email).
3. Social proof is your game changer
Most offerees would prefer to have something more than the empty words behind your business proposal. So, give them things they can verify, give them the reason to trust your expertise and ability to address their problem. Social proof in the form of testimonials, positive reviews, customer ratings, quotes is considered the best way to enhance the credibility of your words.
4. Identify the way to start cooperation
You should leave no doubt to a prospective client when it comes to reaching out to you. How can they contact you? And what should they do to start working with you? These questions are not what your prospects have to ask after they have received your proposal and looked it through. Include a straightforward call-to-action along with contact information and guidelines for the next stage.
5. Do not hesitate to use up-selling practices
You do not need to tell about everything you can give to the potential client. Some information or services may be useless for them. But if you have something that can underpin your partnership and make the collaboration more productive, do not hesitate to mention it.
6. Show your individuality
Your brand should stand out among dozens of competitors. What sets your business apart? Why is your brand different from others? What difference do you want to make? By answering these questions, you have a chance to attract loyal customers. People are more inclined to start cooperation if they share your values. So, let your potential partners see the heart of your brand.
Writing a business proposal for the first time might seem challenging, especially if you just started your business or even study in college. For college students, business proposals are a good tool to sharpen their skills and avoid confusion when they will need to compose such a document at work. Practice is a crucial part of your education, so do not miss the chance to contribute to your future career achievements!
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