Writing a business proposal can seem a tedious task, especially when the client is especially large or has a lot of proposal requirements.
Writing a successful business proposal requires a lot of research and preparation. A proposal can be the only thing between you and a successful sale, so it’s important that you get them done right the first time.
The Top 12 Tips on Writing a Business Proposal
We want to take off some of the stress of writing that business proposal for your potential client. That’s why we gathered 12 tips from our business experts on how to write successful business proposals that will bag you those big projects.
Read on to learn how to come off as professional and polished with your work:
Know the Requirements
When businesses are looking to do business with other businesses, they typically release what’s known as a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The RFP is a document stating the client’s needs for the project, and the kind of company they are looking to work with. Start the proposal process by carefully reading over the RFP so you can get a clear understanding of the client’s goals.
Compare the requirements of the proposal to your company’s capabilities, and make sure you can take on the job before proceeding.
Understand Your Audience
Remember that you’re writing this business proposal, so you should take care to write with the client in mind.
Put yourself in the shoes of the client and clearly identify what their problem is, and what kind of solution they’re looking for. Try to get an idea of the type of business that they do so you can better understand how to help them meet their goals.
You can also reach out to the client to talk to them about their issues, and get a better idea of how their company usually does business. Keep in mind that not all clients know exactly what their problem is, and it might be the work of the proposal writer to shed light on the actual issue at hand.
Choose the Right Tone of Voice
While business proposals should obviously be written in business format, it’s important to keep tone of voice in mind while writing.
You want to come off as confident and knowledgeable, but take care not to come off as arrogant. Ideally you should write in a friendly tone that helps form a connection with the client on an emotional level.
You also want to make sure that the tone of voice you use accurately represents your company’s brand, so the client can get a clear picture of how your company does business.
Write in Plain English
It can be tempting to use large and impressive words to beef up your business proposal, but it can actually end up doing you more harm than good.
When writing a good business proposal, you should be sure to write in a way that is easy to understand. This will help lay out your offering in a simple manner so your audience knows exactly what you’re offering.
You should also avoid using specific terminology, unless the company has very strict technical requirements.
Avoid Filler Language
Filler words add to the bulk of your proposal, but they will take away from what you’re actually offering.
While it may seem like the bigger the proposal the better, large proposals filled with fluff words typically get thrown to the bottom of the pile.
The best business proposals cut right to the chase, and avoid lofty words and run-on sentences. A potential client should be able to glance over a business proposal and get a basic idea of what is being offered before diving into the fine print.
Develop Comprehensive Steps
Clients that write a RFP are on the lookout for proposals that can properly outline the steps needed to fix their problems.
The best business proposals will have a clear breakdown of the methodology that will be followed should the client choose to proceed.
Be sure to talk about the timeline of each step, and the estimated cost of the methods you are suggesting. These steps should be clearly laid out for the client, and should be one of the first things that appear on your proposal.
Sell the Benefits, Not the Product
It’s great to be excited about what you’re offering, but you should remember that the client isn’t looking for your specific product or service.
What the client is actually looking for is the solution to the problem they presented in their RFD. When writing your business proposal, make sure to explain the benefits of the product and/or services you’re providing.
Explain how your unique offering can provide solutions to their problems, rather than listing out all of the technical features.
Format the Proposal for Easy Scanning
We all hope that anything we spent time writing will be read carefully, but in the business world that isn’t always the case.
Prospects who send out an RFP are likely to get dozens of proposals back, all hoping to get the same business. Most prospects don’t have the time to read through each proposal, so it can be helpful to format your proposal for quick scanning.
Argue your company with bullet points and bolded words, making it easier for the client to understand what you’re offering at a glance.
Don’t Skimp on the Design
It’s great to be confident in a well-written proposal, but it will do you no good if no one is enticed to read it.
Business proposals that lack any sort of design are often tossed to the side in favor of those proposals with an attractive design.
While you may be more concerned with content over design, it is important to keep the audience in mind. They will likely be sorting through many proposals for the same project, so you’ll want to make sure your proposal is one that stands out.
If you are not confident with designing your proposal, it may be wise to hand it off to your company’s design team or a freelance designer. You can also find many professionally designed custom business proposal templates online, and often for free.
Include Client Testimonials
You can try to convince your client to accept your business proposal with their own words, but nothing is more powerful than the words of your current clients.
Client testimonials make a great addition to your business proposal, and can help your potential customer understand the type of business you have. These are a very powerful tool, and often act as one of the best ways to score a new client.
If you don’t have any current customer testimonials, take the time to reach out to some of your former clients. Give them incentive to write a testimonial by offering a reward, such as a discount on their next project or even a cash prize.
The more testimonials you can get, the better your proposals will look.
End with a Call to Action
Writing a business proposal can get extremely technical, and it’s easy to forget that you’re actually asking the other party to take action.
When writing your business proposal, be sure to finish the proposal with some kind of call of action for the client to follow. This can be anything from reaching out with any questions, or providing the client with a contract to sign right away.
No matter what you decide, a clear call to action will help move your relationship forward and get you one step closer to closing the deal.
Proofread Your Business Proposal
Writing a business proposal takes time, and it can be hard to get everything together with deadlines fast approaching. Although it might be tempting to work on a proposal until the last possible second, this method often leads to a lot of mistakes that will cost you in the long run.
Before submitting your proposal, meticulously search through the document to correct and grammatical or typographical errors. Even a single typo can leave a bad impression on a prospect, so make sure you check the entire proposal multiple times.
If you are unsure whether or not your proposal is fit to send to the client, you may want to consider getting a second opinion. Send the proposal to an editor, or run it by another employee. They may be able to catch small errors you didn’t notice, and help you present your company in the best light.
Writing Successful Business Proposals
There is no absolute right way to write a business proposal, as each proposal is entirely unique.
When writing your business proposal, you want to make sure everything you do is for the client.
Using these tips, you will be able to write great proposals that will win you business and maximize your company’s potential.