How to write a business proposal

There is no secret when it comes to how to write a business proposal that works. Putting yourself into your audience’s shoes and including the detail that will truly inspire them is key.

For this reason your planning and research is the vital element of your business proposal and should not be done hastily.

 

Get to know your audience

 

As well as carrying out your own private research about the person or organisation to whom you’re proposing and, if opportunity allows, talking with your audience about themselves and their aspirations can make a great deal of difference. Similarly, talking to their end customers can be a great advantage. With careful questioning your aim is to find out:

  • What they like

  • What they need and they already get

  • What needs are not currently being met

Once this is done it’s always a good idea to build a good relationship with your prospective client. People like doing business with people they know and taking the time out for a lunch and a more informal chat about the personal, rather than the business, can mean a great deal.

 

An irrefutable offer

 

While it’s not always about finance, here the figures will always stack up. Again research will prove invaluable, especially if you can be sure you’re giving a great deal that also keeps your own business needs in mind. 

When including calculations in your business proposal always make sure that your deal doesn’t leave your own company sold short – in the excitement of making a deal it can sometimes be easy to include a good figure without taking every element into account.

And remember that a competitive figure can sometimes be higher but include value in other ways. Make sure this is well highlighted. If all else fails, make sure you're well-versed on the art of negotiation.

 

Don’t beat around the budget bush

 

Clear and concise figure work that shows exactly what investment is required and what turnover and profit should be achievable makes all the difference. Know your facts and figures inside and out and make sure you have everything to hand that could be needed.

Even more important, make sure that your figures are substantiated by real data – never base them on guess work.

 

Make accepting easy

 

People are generally time poor. If your proposal is easy to digest and you have given clear instructions at key positions within your business proposal on how to move forward it’s more likely to get good results.

It can also be a good idea to allow your prospect to know that they aren’t the only ones interested in your proposal, adding a sense of urgency to their decision. Results can drop off if your proposal is allowed to slip away from the front of your audience’s mind.

 

How to write a business proposal – the layout

 

The layout and things to include within your proposal can depend on what your prospect has asked for. Sometimes within an invitation to tender layout is specified and this should always be followed.

Otherwise, a sound structure to follow includes:

  • Introduction

  • Current situation

  • Objectives

  • Analysis – market, competition, audience

  • Proposal

  • Costs

  • Timescales

  • Benefits and qualifications

Finally, make sure your proposal is laid out and presented well. Take the time to ensure it flows and that calls to action are clear and have stand out. Ensure that spelling and grammar are impeccable and make sure to print onto good quality paper and have your document professionally bound.

 

Foundations to success

 

Following our guide on how to write a business proposal is your first step to making it a success. Remember, take time to get it right – the passion and quality that you embed within your proposal reflects the quality that you apply to your work and these are the foundations of your working relationships.

For more guidance on starting a successful business, including advice on how to write a business plan, our help centre is the place to look. 

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