What is a business proposal template, and why does it matter?
No matter the type of company you run, it can be daunting to craft the perfect pitch and bring in new clients. Having a strong business proposal can make this significantly easier, as it provides all the information you want to share with potential clients and will give you an outline of how to grow your business sucessfully.
You could craft a business proposal from scratch, but this is unnecessarily time-consuming. Instead, take advantage of the free business proposal template we included for your convenience. This article will show you why you should use a template and how to use it for the most success.
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a written document that your company creates to persuade a potential client to use your product or service. Most experts classify business proposals as unsolicited or solicited and is an integral part of the marketing skills you need to make your business venture successful. This refers to whether the company that you want to convert to a client is actively seeking proposals.
An example of an unsolicited business proposal could stem from a discussion at a trade show or conference. Perhaps your representative talks to a potential client and offers a solution. They would likely follow this up with a formal business proposal.
It is also common to see several acronyms used when referring to business proposals. Each refers to the type of information that the potential client requested in the case of a solicited proposal. The most common acronyms are:
- IFB: Invitation for Bid
- RFI: Request for Information
- RFP: Request for Proposal
- RFQ: Request for Quotation
When should I use a business proposal template? — Major trends influencing a business proposal template
Realistically, there is nothing wrong with using a business proposal template every time you need to create a proposal. Using a template saves you time. It also helps ensure you don’t forget any key elements of a business proposal.
Remember, even if you use a template, you can still customize the proposal. Add new sections to the document if you feel they are necessary. Skip those that are not relevant to your business. You don’t have to follow the template exactly.
What is the format of a business proposal? — The individual pieces of a business proposal
If you look at more than one business proposal template, you will notice some variations. All business proposals tend to feature the same first few elements, such as the cover or title page, cover letter, table of contents, and executive summary. After that, there is some flexibility as to the order of the other elements.
Cover Page or Letter (Also Called Title Page)
The cover or title page lists the basic information. You will want to include your company name, logo, and contact information. It should also feature a title, the date, and the client’s name.
The cover letter is the first section of the proposal after the title page. Think of it as an introduction. Write the cover letter to be friendly yet informative and personalize it with a signature and your contact information. Note: research to whom to address it.
The cover letter should give some (short) background about your company and how you stand out from the competition.
Table of Contents
The next part you will see in any business proposal template is the table of contents. You can skip this if the proposal is concise, but you almost always want to include it. Think of the Table of Contents as a preview. If the client receives the proposal electronically, include clickable links in this section for convenience.
As the name implies, the executive summary of your proposal is a summary. It lets potential clients know why you wrote the proposal and why it is worth their time to read. Make this section relevant by mentioning your client’s challenges and how your company’s products or services can help.
Problem Statement or Overview of the Need
This part of a business proposal template has you outline the issues that your potential client is dealing with. You want this section to outline that challenge as clearly as you can and make it seem urgent.
There are several goals with this section. You want to show potential clients that there is an issue they need to address, even if they weren’t aware. You also want to show the client that you have tailored your pitch to them. This demonstrates that you feel they are worth the time and effort and makes them more likely to consider your proposal.
Approach, Strategy, or Proposed Solution
This is perhaps the most critical part of any business proposal. This is where you outline how your products or services will reduce your potential customers’ pain points.
You can choose to eliminate this section and just combine it with the previous one. However, that only works if you keep it brief. It is better to make it a separate section and go into more detail. You can be as detailed as you can in this section, as that will help convince the client to consider your company. However, keep in mind that later sections will go into more detail.
Methodology or Services
This is the part of the business proposal template where you go into more detail about how you will deliver your services or products and how they will help the client.
As you create this section, think about the questions the client is likely to have. Then, include the answers.
You should also include the deliverables that the client will receive if they accept your proposal. This part of the proposal can also mention the project timeline for your services. Experts suggest taking a visual approach, such as the following:
Schedule or Timeline
If you prefer, you can also include the timeline or schedule in its section, separate from the services or methodology.
In addition to a chart like the one above, consider a visual roadmap or flow chart. A timeline infographic can also work well.
Costs or Pricing
As the name implies, this part of the business proposal has you outline your products or services will cost the client. Make the pricing as accurate as you can. Remember that underestimating can displease the client when the final bill comes, while overestimating may scare them away.
Depending on your product or service, you may want to include a list of potential services and how much each one costs. If your sales proposal is digital, take this a step further with a responsive pricing table that automatically calculates a total estimate based on what services the client selects.
Don’t forget to include the accepted payment methods.
Company Qualifications or About Us
Think of this section of the business proposal template as your chance to show off what makes your company the best fit for the client. Include success stories or case studies from past clients. Include client testimonials. Be as quantitative as you can in this section and include social proof. For example, mention how many clients you have provided services to or how much impact your services typically have on those clients’ bottom line.
You can also use this section to give the marketing proposal a more personal touch. For example, you could provide brief bios (with photos) of the people on your team that the client will work with, either directly or indirectly.
Terms and Conditions and Rights Reserved
The terms and conditions provides an overview of the legal aspects you and the client will agree to if they accept the proposal and sign a contract. It should provide a complete overview of what each party promises to deliver. It will have the timeline, costs, services, payment methods, and any other relevant information.
CTA and Agreement
This section of the proposal will typically have phrasing such as “by signing you agree to” and list some conditions.
The following is an example of what it could look like:
You should also include a phrase encouraging the client to contact you with any questions.
Using a Business Proposal Template vs. Starting from Scratch
It will be best to use a template in nearly every situation instead of sitting down to write a business proposal from scratch. As a refresher, doing so gives you the following benefits:
- Saves time.
- Prevents you from forgetting a section.
- Assists with phrasing.
- Ensures a professional appearance.
- Adaptable to your needs.
- Can combine elements of multiple proposal templates if necessary.
Conclusion: Why You Should Use Business Proposal Templates
Simply put, using a business proposal template will help set your company up for success. It will make it easier to present your arguments to potential clients in an organized manner. With a business proposal template, you have the freedom to include the information and sections you need to without the risk of accidentally forgetting to include necessary details.
Choosing to Partner with Podium will provide the messaging tools that you and your clients need to scale and grow as you deliver a convenient, modern customer journey.