Business proposals are meant to bridge the gap between your company and potential prospects and build business relationships between two companies. A well-written and correctly formatted business proposal can highlight your business’ values and convince the other company to do business with you.
If you have never written a business proposal before or simply need to brush up on your skills, you don’t know where to start. To help you out, we will tell you everything you need to know about writing a business proposal, how to format one, what to include, and much more.
- How to Write a Business Proposal
- Formally Solicited Business Proposal
- Informally Solicited Business Proposal
- Unsolicited Business Proposal
- What Should Be Included in a Business Proposal
- Our Takeaway
How to Write a Business Proposal
A business proposal is a document used by B2B companies to secure a business agreement with another company. The main goal of a business proposal is to persuade another business into purchasing products or services your business has to offer.
A business proposal can be written in both printed and digital form and should outline your business’s product and services. At the same time, a business proposal should point out the potential prospects’ needs and wants and highlight how your business can solve the specific issue the prospect is facing.
Before you learn what to include in a business proposal or write one yourself, you should know several important things. For example, many new small business owners often debate whether they should send a business plan vs. a business proposal.
However, you shouldn’t make the same mistake since the two are entirely different. Namely, a business proposal aims to sell your product or service to another business. As far as a business plan goes, its goal is to find investors to fund your business.
It is also imperative to identify what type of business proposal you need to send. There are three different types of business proposals, such as the formally solicited proposal, informally solicited proposal, and unsolicited business proposal.
Formally Solicited Business Proposal
A formally solicited proposal is sent in response to the buyer that has sent a request to your business. Based on the buyers’ needs and requirements, your business may receive a request for a proposal, a request for quotation, a request for information, or an invitation for a bid.
- RFP (Request for Proposal)
The seller requests your business to send the seller a business proposal.
- RFQ (Request for Quotation)
The seller requests your business to inform the seller about the number of available goods, time of delivery, quality of services, and more.
- IFB (Invitation for Bid)
The seller issues an IFB to check your business’ prices.
- RFI (Request for Information)
The seller requests your business to inform the seller about the available services and retailers and is often the final step before sealing the deal.
The way you tailor your business proposal outline dramatically depends on the seller’s request for your business. Of course, this only serves to provide you with a general idea of your business proposal, and we will include more detail about writing a business proposal further down in the article.
Informally Solicited Business Proposal
Informally solicited business proposals are quite similar to formally solicited business proposals. However, as the name suggests, the informally solicited business proposal is more informal.
For example, a business owner may contact your business and orally request a business proposal rather than sending a formal request. Of course, the exact details of the proposal will vary based on the nature of the conversation or the buyers’ needs.
Unsolicited Business Proposal
When it comes to the unsolicited business proposal definition, you can think of an unsolicited business proposal is like a marketing brochure. Unsolicited business proposals aim to approach businesses for potential work even if the company didn’t previously send you an RFP.
With solicited business proposals, a company will generally specify the goods the company needs or the problem it requires solved. However, with unsolicited businesses proposals, you will have to identify the company’s pain points, propose a solution, and much more.
What Should Be Included in a Business Proposal
Once you identify what type of business proposal you need to send, you can begin writing your business proposal. While no two business proposals are alike, there are several main points a business proposal should include.
1. Title Page
A title page should include basic information about your business and the prospect to which you are sending the business proposal. For example, you should include your company’s name, the name of the business you are sending the proposal to, the date you submitted the proposal, and optionally, relevant contact information.
Furthermore, you should ensure your business proposal includes an enticing title. A good title can be the determining factor between someone reading your business proposal or pushing it aside with the other unread proposals.
In addition, you should briefly introduce your business to the potential prospect. Keep in mind that all the information you enter will set the tone for the entire business proposal. If you want to send a formal business proposal, make sure you are professional and that the proposal itself is visually pleasing.
2. Table of Contents
A table of contents is essential for any business proposal as it will allow anyone who reads through the business proposal to understand what your proposal includes immediately. This is especially important if you send a digital business proposal, making your proposal accessible and easy to navigate.
3. Executive Summary
With an executive summary, you should outline your business proposal and highlight how you can help the prospect resolve any issues or why the company should choose your product or services. In a nutshell, your business proposal structure should revolve around your executive summary, and you should focus on why your business is the best option for the prospect.
One portion of the executive summary should serve as an About Me section, where you’ll expand upon the information from the title page and introduce your business to the prospect in more detail. You should also include your company’s milestones, plans, and add any other relevant information.
As we mentioned earlier, the amount of information you will add in each section can vary significantly from one business proposal to another. If you opt for a simple business proposal, make sure that your executive summary is concise and to the point but also in-depth enough for the prospect to learn all the relevant information by reading through it.
4. State the Problem
The entire goal of writing a business proposal is the fact that you are trying to solve a buyer’s problem or help them with a need for a specific product or a service. Therefore, the goal of this segment is to create a sense of urgency with your prospect and then set yourself up for the next step, which is to offer the solution.
You will show the prospect that you did your research and are not sending a generic pitch. Because of that, both research and critical thinking are essential for this segment.
5. Propose the Solution
Proposing the solution is the critical aspect of writing a business proposal. Unlike other sections, this segment should be as detailed as possible. After all, it will determine whether the buyer opts for your products or services or looks for a solution someplace else.
Your solution should include a strategy to solve the problem, which can be presented with a flowchart or a roadmap of the entire project. You should outline the project plan, including every relevant step of your strategy, and have an estimated timeline of when and how you will complete all your deliverables.
6. Add Qualifications
The qualifications segment is one of the most important aspects when writing a business proposal letter. It should contain why your business is the best for the job and why the prospect should entrust their project to you. Even if the prospect likes your business proposal, the company may have second thoughts about hiring your business.
Therefore, you should use your qualifications to seal the deal. You can add previous and relevant work experience, your employees’ experience in the industry, milestones your business has achieved, and even accomplishments and awards to boost your credibility further.
7. Pricing, Terms and Conditions, and Legal
You can explore different business proposal ideas with the pricing and the terms and conditions segment and design it to your liking. Generally speaking, you can combine pricing, legal, and terms and conditions into a single segment. However, depending on the scope of the project or the amount of information you need to add for each category, you can split each of these points into separate segments.
As far as pricing goes, you should simply include a list of your fees and the project’s final cost. A good idea would be to present the buyer with options and add a table the prospects can use to compare prices.
Furthermore, suppose you are writing a digital business proposal. In that case, you can use proposal software to allow the buyer to tick products or services they are interested in, while the software will automatically adjust the price based on the services added to the project.
Lastly, add terms and conditions to your proposal, underlining the exact details of what you and the client agree to if the prospect accepts the bid. Additionally, you should consult your legal team and ensure that all the information is correct and legally binding.
8. How to End a Proposal: Signatures and Finalization
The final step of a business proposal should include a small segment dedicated to signatures. If your business proposal is accepted, the buyer will sign the document and, eventually, contact you to discuss project details.
Additionally, make sure to include relevant contact information so that the buyer can contact you in case they have any additional questions. You can provide your business’ email, phone number, a website, and even a LinkedIn page.
How to Write a Business Proposal: The Takeaway
As you can see, there is nothing too complicated about writing a business proposal. There are hundreds of different templates you can find online, designed to make sending business proposals a breeze.
Now that you know how it is done, all that is left to do is find potential buyers and send out your first business proposal. As always, make sure to create an outline of the proposal and see if your business can help with the prospect’s pain points.
Additionally, make sure that your business proposal contains relevant data to make your proposal a lot more credible. Furthermore, don’t shy away from adding visuals, such as roadmaps or graphs, to make reading through your business proposal more appealing.
Finally, maintain a professional tone and ensure the potential buyers your business can alleviate their pain points and help them with any needs or wants. By doing all that, you are guaranteed to increase your chances of getting positive feedback and are more likely to receive a business proposition.