How to Write a Business Proposal in 6 Steps
Want to stand out, win a project, and set the right tone in a new client relationship?
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a business proposal that converts uncertain prospects like gangbusters.
1. Agitate the pain points
The “problem page,” also known as the executive statement, describes the “trigger” that led the prospect to your business.
Go back to your email or discovery call to identify the prospect’s problem, and display it front and center.
Here’s an example to illustrate what this means. Note how the following problem statement agitates the pain point with specific details.
Don’t shy away from using graphics or images to bring these details to life. Unlike what its name suggests, a business proposal doesn’t have to be a tedious, formal document.
You can even pepper it with your personality—provided it fits with your branding, of course!
Many proposal software tools offer built-in stock photos and videos. Decktopus, for one, integrates with Unsplash, Pixabay, Giphy, and Icons8.
Whenever you need to add a creative element to your business proposal, you can do so without leaving the platform.
Grab the Decktopus lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $129 (usual price: $432).
Pro tip: Add a table of contents if your business proposal is more than ten pages long. It’ll give prospects an overview of what’s covered and let them skip directly to a specific section.
2. Propose a solution
Next, write what the prospect needs and give them a glimpse at their desired outcome.
For instance, if your prospect needs help in overhauling their sales strategy, you might write something like this:
“Company A needs a revamped sales strategy to accelerate revenue growth for 2022. To do this, [what the prospect needs] we’ll train our all-star sales team, refine the sales process, and align sales with marketing.By the end of our collaboration, [desired outcome] we can expect an improved sales performance and a streamlined sales process with deeply integrated systems in marketing and sales.”
Pro tip: Expand on the desired outcome to entice your prospect further.
Here’s a great plug-and-play business proposal template by Kroma.ai to show you what we mean. Note the eye-catching graph on the right that shows the projected outcome in action.
Irresistible, isn’t it?
It paints a clear picture of future benefits in the prospect’s head. More importantly, it conveys what the prospects need to know in a single glance.
Tired of using plain graphs and charts in your business proposal?
Kroma.ai offers over one million creative assets and thousands of data visualization elements. Grab the Kroma.ai lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $59 (usual price: $240).
3. Introduce yourself with the prospect in mind
The introduction page is perhaps the most challenging, as it’s not really about listing your accomplishments one after the other.
At its core, your intro should answer the prospect’s question: “What’s in it for me?”.
In other words, introduce your company with the prospect in mind and reinforce their deepest desire.
Here’s what we mean:
That’s what you want to do in your introduction. Extra brownie points if you pair it with social proof!
4. List deliverables with milestones
While the solutions page focuses on the big picture, the deliverables page revolves around the action plan on a micro-level.
Here’s how it works:
- Solutions (big picture): Overhaul sales strategy, specifically in the sales process, training sales team, and aligning them with the marketing department.
- Deliverables (micro-level): Create assets for the sales process, including email templates, sales scripts, objection handling guides, sales decks, and marketing materials; hire a VP of sales, etc.
Clients want to know what they’re getting and when they’ll receive them, so lay out these deliverables with milestones (e.g., assets for sales process, 7th January; sales team training, 18th February).
If the project involves a lot of deliverables, communicate that visually with a timeline chart or break them down into bite-sized text, like the example below.
Source: Better Proposals
Take a leaf out of every content writers’ book: Limit yourself to three sentences in a paragraph max. Leverage bullet points to break down long walls of text.
The goal here is to make it as reader-friendly as possible.
Your business proposal should leave prospects excited, not overwhelmed.
Pro tip: Include add-ons within your deliverables page to cross-sell or upsell prospects. Here’s what I did for my content strategy proposal.
Granted, this is not a business proposal, but the tips apply!
5. Lay out terms and conditions
The terms and conditions agreement protects you. Without this legal section, it’s impossible to run a thriving business.
Imagine getting an email from a past client thinking that they’re here to hire you for new work, but only to realize that they’re requesting a free revision you offered in an old contract from three years ago.
Hire a lawyer to look through the terms and conditions before submitting the proposal.
6. Make it official
Note: Not all proposals require signatures, so feel free to skip this section if it’s irrelevant to you.
Aaaaand you’ve reached the finish line—well, almost.
Include a signature box on the last page of your proposal.
Make sure you preview it and check that there’s a space for the prospect’s signature before submitting it for approval.
Some online proposal software requires you to add a signature block manually. In some cases, you need to toggle to enable permission.
3 bonus tips for creating a high-converting business proposal
Consistency encourages brand recognition. Your fonts, brand colors, and logo help prospects visually identify your business, which ultimately creates trust and familiarity.
That said, ensure that you’re using the same style throughout the business proposal. Use Fontjoy and Design Seeds to generate font and color combinations if you need help in both areas.
Alternatively, look to your proposal software tool for pointers. Tools like Decktopus include pre-built font and color pairings.
Decktopus also lets you upload custom fonts and colors.
Don’t worry if you find yourself itching to make last-minute changes. Any edits you make to one slide are automatically applied to the others.
That way, you can focus on writing the actual content of your proposal instead of wrestling with the colors and fonts.
Grab the Decktopus lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $129 (usual price: $432).
Overcome your friction points
In a business proposal, friction points refer to areas that obstruct the sale. Typically, these are the budget and sign-off sections.
Here’s how you can combat friction at these two points.
- Name it “Investment” to shift the prospective client’s mindset from expenses to investment for business growth.
- Add a testimonial that highlights specific results. “Jane has helped our department save $193,839 just last month alone” builds greater credibility than a generic statement like “Jane’s helped us save a lot of money.”
- Ensure that the testimonial features a similar client to give them a sneak peek at what their lives could be like if they win with the work you do.
It’s more straightforward to combat friction at the sign-off stage. What you need to do is to make it as easy as possible for the prospect to sign the proposal.
After you finish writing your business proposal on NordAccept, send it within the platform. The proposal software will prompt the recipient to accept and sign for approval, whether it’s via desktop or mobile.
NordAccept will automatically generate an invoice based on the proposal upon acceptance, saving you from creating it from scratch.
Grab the NordAccept annual deal on AppSumo today for $29 (usual price: $576).
Being proactive sells.
People who send at least one follow-up email can increase their reply rate by 4% compared to folks who don’t follow up at all.
The problem? Reminding yourself to follow up when you have a gazillion things on your plate is trickier than it sounds.
Fortunately, this is where proposal software tools come in.
NordAccept’s built-in intelligence tool suggests the best time to follow up on your proposals.
This way, no deal falls through the cracks.
Win deals with a business proposal today!
There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but hopefully, this guide’s given you the necessary steps to write your first business proposal.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Describe the “trigger” that led the prospect to your business and agitate it.
- Propose a solution and give the prospect a glimpse at the desired outcome.
- Introduce yourself with the prospect in mind and paint a focus on their future.
- List deliverables with milestones and communicate them visually.
- Lay out the terms and conditions and hire a lawyer to look through them.
- Make it official—invite the prospect to sign the proposal!
A business proposal is only one piece of the puzzle in running a successful business.
You also need to manage client relationships, network with dream clients, and maintain your books every day.
If only there’s a way to simplify these processes.
Luckily, you’ve landed in the right place.
Browse over 3,000 tools with annual and lifetime deals on AppSumo. Whatever your goal is, we’ve got everything you need to grow your business today.