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Business tipsWriting tips

How to write a business proposal

By 30 September 2022 No Comments

Stuck on how to write a business proposal? Is the process dragging you and your business down?

A kickass business proposal needs to be clear and compelling – identifying the problem, outlining the solution, and including a detailed budget.

This article will show you how to write a business proposal that’s totally kickass and will raise your chances of winning new business.

How to write a business proposal: Take the time to listen

You want to get on a call with the potential client and take the time to truly listen to what it is they need.

Always take ample notes!

Ask them questions like: What are they struggling with? What do they need? Why do they need it? What are their goals? Who is their target market?

Don’t be afraid to ask them about their budget to save time wasters. We have our prices on our website to help weed out people who can’t afford us, so they don’t even get to the phone call stage with us. Consider this transparency if you feel it’ll work for your business.

Define the customer’s problem FIRST

Before you introduce yourself and what it is you do – you want to define what your client’s main problem is.

Then provide some ideas on how you want to solve this problem.

Showing you have a good understanding of what they’re struggling with proves you listen and shows you’re equipped to help.

Reiterate what you’ve already discussed

You shouldn’t give away all of your ideas in the proposal – in case they take them and run – but it’s worth giving a short summary of some good ideas to show them you know how to take their business to the next level.

Some companies choose to do a SWOT analysis in their proposals. This means writing up the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and then demonstrating how you can help them with their weaknesses and threats.

A proposal example

Take a look at an example from a recent proposal we sent out below, in which we explained the current situation of the business and an understanding of what it was wanting to achieve.

Outlining a business proposalExecutive summary

If your proposal is longer, you might decide to start it with an executive summary (just use a different heading because an executive summary is suuuuuper corporate and dry.) 

Personally, I’m not really a fan of executive summaries, because I sometimes feel they are too self-centred and not focused on the business you’re aiming to help.

For example, with an executive summary, the idea is to:

  • Introduce your company to your buyer
  • Provide an overview of your company goals
  • Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
  • Include any other relevant details

But I think it’s too self-centred! What do you think?

Make sure you establish why you’re the best

However, it is important to write something about your business, but put this further down in your proposal.

Remember that your proposal is your chance to sell yourself.

Explain what working with you is like and why you’re different from the competition.

Include information about what the working process looks like so they feel clear that their expectations will be met.

How to write a business proposal: We clearly outline our process

In our proposals, we like to give an insight into what it’s like to work with us, so the client has a clear idea of the customer journey.

It looks a little something like this:

how to write a business proposal

Social proof is important

Still wondering about how to write a business proposal? Here’s another tip – don’t forget to show social proof throughout your proposal.

This helps you build trust and credibility with potential clients, showing them that you’re good at what you do.

For us, we use it as an opportunity to show off samples of our work.

You can also use it to pop in some testimonials and mention other clients you’ve worked with in the past.

At the end of the proposal, it might be worth also mentioning the awards you’ve won and the industry associations you’re a part of.

Pricing / Quoting in your proposal

For many clients, the most important part of your proposal will be the pricing. 

Make sure you itemise everything – this gives you a chance to demonstrate the value of everything you’re doing for the client.

Explain the whole process of what’s involved so they can truly see why it is that price.

For example, don’t simply write ‘blog post’. Instead, write:

Blog post:

  • 500 word post
  • Research into the topic and linking to relevant articles
  • Meta descriptions filled out on WordPress
  • Sourcing uncopyrighted images
  • Uploading the blog to the backend of the website
  • SEO keyword research ad implementation

Make sure to include GST so they’re clear on final costs and don’t get any nasty surprises.

Timeframes

Probably the most common question, aside from cost, is when you’ll be able to get the work done.

I always draft up a schedule of when I expect the first drafts to be written, when the amendments from the clients should come back by, etc.

Just make sure you add expectations to your T&Cs and what will happen if the revisions aren’t received back from the client within a reasonable time frame (we learnt this the hard way!)

Terms and conditions

We always are very clear with our T&Cs (ahead of a contract) just so the client understands what is expected of them.

We like to make it clear that we are working with the client, not for them.

Obviously, expectations can be fleshed out more in the contract, but the proposal is a good starting point.

Here is an example of our terms and conditions:

terms and conditions for a business proposal

Quick proposal tips

  • Design a proposal in Canva and then pre-fill it each time.
  • Be precise. Explain exactly what you are going to deliver.
  • Be concise. Use clear language, avoid fluff and jargon, and get to the point.
  • Be persuasive and positive. Be honest though – it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver!

If you take the time to write a kickass proposal, you are much more likely to get your foot in the door and land that big client. 

But remember, writing a proposal is not a one-size-fits-all task. Be sure to tailor each proposal specifically for the client or customer you are pitching to. And always err on the side of being too professional rather than too casual.

Ready to take your business proposals up a notch? Let’s go!

Let me know if you have any questions relating to how to write a business proposal below and I’ll endeavour to answer them.

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