How to Write a Business Proposal that Demands a Response
Writing business proposals is something that almost every business has to do regularly to help grow their business.
What makes prospects respond to a business proposal? There are a lot of templates available, but will they get responses from your prospects?
This article will look at business proposals, the elements that make one effective, and the design tips that will make yours stand out from your competition.
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What is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a document used by a company that tries to persuade a prospective client into working together on a specific project. First, you should write a business proposal responding to a particular opportunity or request. Then, you should tailor it to answer how your services can help solve a company's problem.
There are three types of business proposals: formally solicited, informally solicited, and unsolicited.
The Three Types of Business Proposals
- Formally Solicited - A formally solicited business proposal is made in response to an official request to submit a business proposal like a Request for Proposal (RFP).
- Informally Solicited - An informally solicited business proposal is submitted when there isn't an official request for a proposal made.
- Unsolicited - Unsolicited business proposals take a more general approach to address a prospect's pain points.
Preparing to Write Your Business Proposal
Before you sit down and write your business proposal, you need to understand the prospect company, their problem, their business goals, and potential solutions to their problems.
Perhaps the best way to get this invaluable information from a prospect is through a discovery call. We've compiled a list of some of the best questions to ask on your discovery call.
Powerful Discovery Call Questions
- What does your company do?
- What is the specific problem you're facing?
- How is that problem affecting your business?
- What resources are you using currently to handle the problem?
- Are you trying to handle the problem internally?
- What would happen if you didn't resolve the problem in the next six months?
- What metric would you use to measure successfully overcoming the problem?
- What are your company's goals?
- Do you have any budget allocated to fix the problem?
- Have you worked with or reached out to any of our competitors?
Remember, the discovery call is about learning about their company, their issues, and the stakeholders of their company. This research ensures you can deeply understand their wants, concerns, and needs.
The Elements of an Effective Business Proposal
Once you have gathered all the information from the prospect and put together your solution, it's time to write the actual business proposal.
Again, many templates are available, or you can write them yourself. Either way, there are elements that every effective business proposal should have.
The title page is the first impression a prospect will get on your proposal, so take some time to make it a good one. Think of it as a one-page advertisement that conveys your brand's character and aesthetic.
Title Page Elements
- Proposal Title - Give it an engaging title, something that sums up the entire proposal in one line.
- The Prospect Company's Name
- Your Business Name and Contact Information
- Your Company's Logo
- Date Your Submitting the Proposal
Table of Contents
A good table of contents will make navigating the proposal easy for your prospect. Add hyperlinks to the table of contents so viewers can click and go directly to a page.
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A cover letter should be one page and briefly describe your company's mission statement, background, and unique selling proposition.
The executive summary is a concise review of your proposal's elements.
Goals for an Executive Summary
- Introduce your company to the prospect.
- Provide an overview of the prospect's exact issues
- Explain your company's methodology and why you're the best option to address the prospect's problem.
- Outline your proposed solution to the prospect's issues.
The Problem Statement
The problem statement section is where you describe the problem that the prospect is facing in detail.
A detailed problem statement is where doing your homework and research pays off because it shows the customer that you understand the specific problem that their company is facing.
The Proposed Solution
The proposed solution is where you lay out in minute detail how you can help correct the prospect's problem.
Elements of Well Defined Proposed Solution
- The Problem: Use data to detail the prospect's problems and where they might have other shortfalls.
- The Implementation: Speak in depth about your solution, the purpose of your solution, the details of the solution, and how long it will take to implement.
- Goals For Success: You'll want to define how to evaluate the success of your solution and a timeline of when the prospect can expect to see results.
- Benefits of the Solution: Refer to the initial assessment of the problem and how your solution impacts the issues.
Pricing Proposal Table
Your pricing proposal table should include all the products and services required for your proposal and the corresponding prices in an easy-to-read format.
It's a good idea to give your prospect pricing options and potential discounts like recurring payments, multi-year deals, first-time customer discounts, etc. You can also add pricing for upsells, add-ons, and upgrades to your initial proposal.
Billing and Legal
In these sections, you'll want to address the payment schedule, payment terms, and legal aspects involved in the proposal.
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions section is where you summarize what has been promised by your company. It's also where you'll talk about what you expect back from the prospect. Include the overall project timeline from beginning to end, payment methods, and a payment schedule.
A Signature/Acceptance Page
The signature place is where you get the necessary signatures to close the deal and make the partnership official.
A good proposal should be clean, concise, and aesthetically pleasing. Remove anything that is superfluous and can distract the reader from the information presented.
Graphics should offer the maximum amount of data in the smallest space but still be easily read.
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Effective Business Proposals Demand Responses
Writing business proposals demanding responses from prospects takes a lot of time and effort.
Before you write the business proposal, please do your homework and learn everything you can about the prospect, his company, and their issue.
Then sit down and figure out how your company's solution can help them with this issue and potentially others they might not be aware of at the moment.
An effective business proposal will introduce your company, acknowledge the prospect's problem, and provide a detailed timeline of how your solution can resolve their issue.
Keep your business proposals professional, succinct, and aesthetically pleasing. Make sure they represent your company's brand and culture, and you'll close more deals.