How to Write a Winning Business Proposal

🗒 Business Proposal · December 9, 2020 · Inesa Joksaite

Nothing is final in the business world until it's on paper, signed, sealed, and delivered on the company soft board.

But how exactly do you land your first contract for your new startup?

It’s easy; reach out to prospective clients and tell them how your solution will solve their problems. If you are capable of actually solving a problem and capable of communicating it in a clear and precise way – chances are good that you can close down a deal.

If you want to land your first contract, a proper way of driving potential clients to the negotiation table is to send them a business proposal. And what is a business proposal exactly? If done correctly, it highlights your company’s services and products and presents relevant data and pricing information that the potential client can use to evaluate a possible partnership.

To assist you, we have compiled a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective business proposal. First, let's sort out the basics:

What Is A Business Proposal?

As the name suggests, business proposals are a proposal to a potential client/partner you are interested in working/partnering up with. Before we take you through how to put together a business proposal, we will shortly discuss what it should include:

Many tend to think of a business proposal as a long and tedious document full of data, statistics, and financial information – but it doesn’t have to be.
The modern way to do business proposals has risen from the ashes of all that unnecessary garble. It now represents a convenient and concise summary of your company, the services you provide, the pricing, and why the client should opt for your company.

It is a personalized document that has one single purpose; to convince the client to work with your company. In short, you are trying to convince a client to partner with your company because you are the best at what you do – and can bring more value than your competitors.

Why Do You Need A Business Proposal?

You may have heard someone say that networking is the way to move forward in business. So why should you go through the trouble of writing up a business proposal then? Can’t you just turn on the charm and get people to buy something from you in a more casual way?

Sure! Sometimes. But networking your way to business success is a steep mountain to climb, and even if you excel at it, you will still at one point need to send an official proposal to close deals.

In reality, getting the attention of a prospective customer can happen in many different ways. Relying on in-person meetings can slow you down while taking different approaches will speed up your sales process. The business proposal is a more formal way of initiating business relationships. It brings legitimacy to your business, helps the client judge the qualitative and quantitative factors of the potential deal, and provides a place to put their signature. You can no doubt cement a business deal with a handshake, but you will still need to put it in writing formally.

The business proposal is often the first contact between you and the client’s company. You can view the request as the ambassador for your business that diplomatically presents your clients with the proposition you have for them – and summarizes why it would be an excellent idea to partner up.

How Can A Business Proposal Help?

In the competitive business world – every edge counts!

Initiating a contract with a prospective client will require a firm understanding. Complete compliance with terms and conditions, and intensive reading of the fine print!
Before you end up signing off an arm for a contract, it is better to highlight your terms of service and the extent of your involvement with the company to your client. This process helps define your operations’ scope and brings a level of confidence, trust, and integrity to the table. Those are treasured and highly appreciated qualities in the business world where charlatans are out and about in full force through the working day (and we suspect, even on weekends).

Crafting a killer business proposal will help you get the right narrative to your client. It will help you land that coveted contract by displaying to the potential client how you are better than the rest!

Things To Remember Before You Start:

1. Research Your Prospects

As we mentioned before, a business proposal has now become a more personalized document catered to each client's exact requirements.

You can't just write a birthday wish and send it to 100 different companies. Every business proposal should be tailored to the needs of the specific client you are addressing. This effort will make sure that you craft long-lasting relations with your clients.
The best way to begin is to research the prospective company with which you are seeking a contract.
A quick review of their business will let you know that you need to create an engaging and winning business proposal that directly speaks to the company and provides the solutions they NEED! It will also help conserve your energy as you can avoid sending requests blindly to a thousand different companies.

This not only preserves morale but helps you get more meaning from your activities and engages your team more efficiently.

2. Gather The Data

You can't only send your clients a paper that says, "Call Me, maybe." You must provide the stonecold facts and numbers if you wish to win over a company. It should give a clear overview of how you imagine the partnership to proceed.

Often, your business proposal will go through the hands of many intermediaries before it reaches the panel that decides your fate. When you submit a business proposal, it will be read by a staff member who then informs the management, who then (if you’re lucky) call you for further dialogue.
You must craft the business proposal to be simple enough for anyone to understand – yet detailed enough to convey the partnership’s scope and communicate the vision.

3. Begin With A Discussion

Before you write the business proposal, you should take the chance to hold a preliminary meeting with the client, if possible. The discussion should revolve around the company's specific requirements – the more you know about your potential partner, the better you’ll be equipped to create a beneficial proposal. It will help you better optimize and cater to your business proposal to the client's requirements. The extra steps go a long way towards building a rapport for your company at different levels of the client's organization.
Suppose you have had a preliminary meeting with representatives of the clients' company. In that case, you can use the information you gathered. Use the understanding reached between those present to inspire and direct the tangent of your business proposal so that the discussion and the proposal’s content match in their tone.

Down to Business: Writing Your Business Proposal

it's time to write! A business proposal’s tentative contents are outlined below, but you have room for addition and deduction based on your specific requirements and the occasion's needs.

Let's get started!

1. Write an Engaging Title

The first thing you will need to write is a title. But you can't just type "Business Proposal" and get done with it! (you CAN, but you SHOULDN'T)

The title is the first thing the reader views, so why not let it set the right tone? A professional manner and a short nod to the proposal's contents are good aspects to include in your title. You could write something like "business proposal to X company."

Or You could write "Solving Supply Chain Issues with [product name]."
This brings a creative touch to the title and instills a sense of curiosity.

2. List the Table of Contents

This section can be put off and added when you're done writing the proposal. In sequence, this section must come after the title and contain the headings that are expanded in the document's pages.

Keep it concise, simple, and clean – adding too much flare to elements that do not require that much energy will waste your time and resource and take away focus from the parts that need the most concentration.

One tip: make sure the theme is consistent throughout the document. Having contrasting colors that complement each other is fine, but creating completely different personas against the subject matter is discouraged.

Of course, you can be as creative as you want, but keeping the document's professionalism and business-minded tone is much more favorable!

3. Write the Executive Summary

The executive summary should be a meaningful passage, limited to one or two pages in length, defining the document's purpose and scope.The executive summary sets the reader's expectations and tells them what the document contains before they invest their time reading the rest.

4. Present the Problem Statement

This section should not deal with how many bolts it takes to fix a lightbulb. The problem statement is a focused and dedicated section that presents the problem or issues you are targeting with your services or products. It should build the case for ‘why’ a solution is necessary.

5. Highlight a Proposed Solution

In this section, you present to the reader a proposed solution to the problems that you have stated in the previous section, without directly involving your product or service just yet.
In this section, you must create the impression that the solution could be solved, if only somebody had such a product or service.

6. Introduce your Company

Now is the time for your company to enter the spotlight. Use this section to present your company's information and bring the limelight to your achievements and distinctive features!

The purpose here is to win the crowd. You might be tempted to perform linguistic somersaults in this section, but it is better to keep things concise and relevant.
Include only such information that pertains to the matter – everything should bring value to the document. Avoid adding pictures of your lunchroom and company picnic (unless that's somehow relevant to the proposal)
The trick is to modestly portray to the reader how your company is the answer to the problem stated above.

7. Highlight the Services/Methodology

Now, you have made a claim, but can you back it up?

In this section, you must lay out the methodology by which you aim to achieve the proposed solutions you have highlighted.

You must provide the reader with an overview of the framework, pathway, and direction in which your services will be executed, including a mention of the kinds of resources you will utilize and how your company aims to achieve a set of results. The results must be highlighted in this section as well, and you must tell the client’s company and reader how the complete process you propose can help them reach their desired goals.

8. Pricing and Packages

If you have correctly followed the instructions we mentioned above, we do not doubt that you have crafted a compelling argument up till now. Now it is time for you to present your estimation of the services or products to the client!

In this section, you can provide a breakdown of the services you are providing. Here you should also include a roadmap of how you will utilize the finances and allocate resources and assets.

You don't need to tell them everything! You only need to place the right statistics and numbers to help your prospective client to get an idea of the kind of money they will need to dish out.

If you think that some will find the bill hard to digest, you can ease the process by providing additional details and showing the reader how the costs are justified compared to the excellent results they achieve!

9. Terms and Conditions

This section should either be a heaven or a hell for the client's legal team. You can use this section to set the terms and conditions that come with enlisting your company to complete a contract.

This is meant to tell the reader the following:
Your expectation
The terms of your employment
The milestones

It must also clearly state the terms of the contract that might affect the operations.

10. Sign the MOU!

Now that you have completed the requisite parts, you need to cement the deal and get started on delivering your commitments.
But before that can happen, the client needs to sign SOMEWHERE!
At the end of the document, you must include a short statement that reflects the client's agreement to conduct business with your company on the given terms, along with a place for signatories to put down their initials and signatures. As the business proposal is a formal document, a clear and definite statement must be included at the end to initialize the proceedings formally.

Mapping It All Together

Personalize and customize
Try to add a personal touch to the document that shows your understanding of your client's business and requirements.

Understand Your Cient

As we mentioned before, try to have conversations and discussions with the client company representatives to increase your understanding of their inner workings and the thought process that leads to their organization’s decisions.

Understand the Scope

Misjudging the scope of the project can have DISASTROUS results. Remember to confirm and reaffirm the contract's content and tailor your proposal and pricing to meet those specific requirements. You shouldn't offer a shovel to someone that needs an excavator.

Draft and Optimize your Business Proposal

It is best to go through the initial draft of your business proposal and optimize the content before sending it out to clients. Have a team read the proposal and point out issues to ensure the best outcome.

That's it! You're on your way to becoming the next successful startup in your circle. Now you can send off those business proposals to prospective clients and reap the fruits of your labor. The best of luck!