What is a Business Proposal?
A Business Proposal is a formal document provided to a prospect to secure your business. Writing a Business Proposal is a dire need for any kind of business you have. So that you can get new clients and close deals without spending less time doing it. 62% of sales professionals report spending 40 hours a week on proposals.
And the absolute first thing that you need to know about a business proposal is that it is not the same as a business plan. This comes up over and over again online, so let me clear it up for you. A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them.
It’s primarily used when seeking an investor to put money into your business. In other words, you write a business proposal to get clients. And because every client’s needs are different, your business proposal needs to be customized to address those needs.
That’s why working off a template can save a lot of time and energy, freeing up your sales team to approach more prospects every business cycle does what they need to do, which is, you know, sell some stuff. So, let’s break down each section of the template to make sure you understand what’s the need
Business Proposal Template
Executive Summary of your Business
Most business proposals start with an executive summary. This is a one-page document that a prospect can skim over to get a gist of what you’re proposing and why. But just because it’s the first page doesn’t mean it’s the first thing you want to write. It can be very difficult to write a summary of a proposal before you’ve written out the whole thing.
Understanding the Problem
Instead of moving directly into part two of a business proposal, which is understanding the problem. Your job as a salesperson is to help your client identify their needs, and then offer your company a solution. Sometimes this is easy, especially if you’ve already met with a client and discussed their situation. Maybe the client even sent you an RFP, which stands for request for proposal, in which they define the problem they’re trying to solve.
But no matter how much information you’re starting with, the goal is to demonstrate your understanding of the client’s pain points. So, make sure your writing skills are always customer-focused. Make the client feel like you understand them better than any of the other competitors.
Now, in some cases, you might not get the opportunity to discuss a client’s problems before creating your proposal. Some businesses thrive online on identifying a client’s needs before the client knows a problem.
This is very common in the SEO game where optimization providers can run an in-depth analysis of a website and identify its shortcomings before approaching the prospect.
You can do this, but you also want to be careful you’re not making too many assumptions about a potential client’s needs. If you have hard data to back up your findings, don’t be shy about presenting it to your prospect, whether they ask for it or not.
Solve the Problem of your Clients
Now that you’ve carefully defined the client’s problem, the next step naturally is to propose to solve it. If you did a good job in the previous section, the prospect will be eager to hear the solution your company can offer. Odds are that the solutions you offer to clients are similar, which makes this section of the proposal easier to write.
That said, you still want to make sure that you’re addressing the client’s specific issue. So, be sure to include some direct references to the client. So, the proposal doesn’t look copied and pasted.
Here are three additional tips for writing a solution that will impress prospects.
Process of Solution to Problem
Focus on the process your company uses to solve the client’s problem. A lot of teams fall into the trap of pitching ideas to the client before the deal is done. It’s like if you’re trying to shoot free throws with a blindfold on. This is to say that you’re probably going to be missing, and even worse, the client could be turned off if you get the solution wrong. Or even worse than that, the clients could like your solution, then execute it themselves or with another vendor.
By focusing on the process, you give the client a detailed explanation of how you will solve their problem without actually doing the work before the check clears.
Declare Possible Results
Another important tip when crafting a solution is to explicitly spell out the results a client can expect if they work with you. You want to define clear KPIs that should improve after your solution is implemented. But you don’t ever want to make promises in terms of hard numbers.
So, if your solution will improve efficiency, you can say something like, “We streamline the process, resulting in fewer hours spent on the task.” You don’t want to say, “Decrease time spent by 30%,” unless you’re guaranteeing that result.
Graphical Presentation of Business Proposal
And the final tip I have for you is don’t say it, show it with graphics. Humans can comprehend something much more easily if they visualize it. So, take time to create charts, infographics, or any other visual asset to help illustrate your solution.
If there is nothing to illustrate, you could at least include a features and benefits table. You’ll find this included in the business proposal template that you can download here.
Provide Background Info of your Business
Now, so far, your business proposal has focused on the client. But now it’s time to show them what you got by giving background info on your organization. There are a lot of ways you can go about trying to impress your prospect, but here are a few general items to include in this section.
Give some background information on the organization as a whole and include the mission and vision of your company, if it’s impactful.
You can also provide some info about your executive team, as well as any individuals who will be working directly with the client. And use case studies as a way to illustrate the work you do. Remember when I said you shouldn’t include actual numbers when talking about results for the client? Well, case studies are all about numbers. So, don’t be shy about including some positive metrics that you’ve had with previous clients. So go ahead, flex a little bit, like this.
Be Conscious of the Pricing Factor
Once you have the clients thinking you’re amazing, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to your pricing. A lot of organizations find pricing to be the hardest part, particularly if the service you offer varies, depending on the client.
Ask for too much, and you might blow up the deal. Ask for too little, and you can end up losing money in the long run. You might even have to go back to your client and ask for more money, which is an awful position to be in. The one thing I want to tell you about pricing is you should never call it pricing, costs, or fees.
Instead, try calling it an investment, venture, or asset. Another tip, there can be the tendency to offer an array of solutions, or even small, medium, or large sets of solutions with lots of upsells.
But research shows that offering a single solution secures more deals. And you could always upsell the client on additional services as the work goes along. You also want to be sure to set a payment schedule with clear milestones and dates. Otherwise, you can end up waiting forever to get paid if the work slows due to roadblocks on the client’s end.
Total Project Timeline of Business Proposal
Also, since we’re speaking of schedules, be sure to include a total project timeline in your business proposal. This sets expectations for the client, while also adding a sense of urgency for them to sign the deal.
And finally, you want to end every business proposal with a call to action that lets the client sign off on the deal. So, you can get started working. Even better, give them a direct link to make a payment. This is proven to increase sales in many industries. And there you have it.
Those are the tips on how to write a business proposal and how to secure client deals. And, if you haven’t already, make sure you download the free business proposal template. So, you can start closing more deals. Because if you win, we win.