Writing a business proposal is a key part of the sales process, allowing you to build relationships and win new business. This guide will take you through the steps to writing a winning business proposal.
A business proposal is a document that will show your capabilities and how they match with a client’s needs, and ultimately tell them why they should do business with you. Not to be confused with a business plan which is an articulation of the company’s vision and mission with details of financial forecasts and marketing plans.
A business might write a proposal to:
A business proposal may be solicited or unsolicited - solicited coming from a formal request for proposal (RFP) - this might also be called a request for information (RFI), request for quotation (RFQ) or invitation for bid (IFB). An unsolicited business proposal may come off the back of a networking event or meeting when a client has mentioned an issue to you and you’ve asked if you could send them a proposal to offer them a solution.
The business proposal should get their attention, show that you understand the problem and provide the right solution to win their business.
Before you start writing, do your research. Collate all the information that you’ll require and ask any questions early on to be fully prepared.
1. Understand the client
From a client's perspective, there's nothing worse than reading a proposal that shows a lack of understanding of their situation.Find out more
2. Understand the industry
Your proposal should instil faith in the reader that you have a firm understanding of the industry and external landscape.Find out more
3. Understand your relevant experience
You should think about your work experience and qualifications and how they might enhance your proposal.Find out more
4. Understand your resource requirements and other costs
It's easy to overpromise in the proposal stage so you need to be mindful of what you can realistically deliver and tally the costs accordingly.Find out more
Depending on your industry and the type of client you’re sending to, then the way you structure and design your business proposal may be slightly different. Take a look at this video with an alternative example of how Experiment27 put together proposals when pitching to agencies…
When your proposal is finished, spend some time crafting a great cover email or letter. This will be the first thing the client sees before they open the proposal so make it count and remember that people want to work with others that they like and get on with so make it friendly and positive. Make sure they know that you’re readily available to discuss the proposal in more detail and this isn’t the limit to what you could provide (especially if it was an unsolicited request).
Be confident, you’re obviously in the position of proposing for a reason and know that you’ve given it your best. Don’t put off following up - unless they’ve let you know when they’ll get back to you, do it the next day to appear keen and see if they have any questions.
After you’ve won the business you’ll need to put your payment terms in place. Read this guide which will walk you through the terminology and potential issues.Read more
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