A business proposal is a document used to offer specific goods or services to leads at a defined cost. They are typically used by B2B companies to win new business and can be either solicited or unsolicited. Effective business proposals have an executive summary and key project details.
Here are the six steps to writing a successful business proposal:
1. Gather the Information You Need
When a hot business opportunity becomes available, you may feel pressure to get your proposal sent over as soon as possible. While you certainly want to send it sooner rather than later, taking some time to learn about the client and project first will help you craft a proposal that’s more likely to be accepted. This will inform the key elements to include in your proposal and create a more accurate and effective proposal that results in a closed deal.
Some of the key questions you need to answer before writing your proposal include:
- Who are the buyers? The person you met may not be the final decision-maker. Consider who else may be involved in the process. If possible, ask the prospect to describe their decision-making or approval process.
- What is the pain point? Research your competition to identify potential weaknesses or gaps. Ask the prospect questions about their past experience with similar products or services to identify their pain points and how you can solve it with your offering.
- Is there a budget? Ask the prospect if they have a target price in mind or if there is a budget for the project. Answering this question will help you avoid wasting time on proposals that have no chance for profit.
- Is there a deadline? Many companies set internal deadlines for purchasing decisions in order to hit production or launch schedules. They also may be motivated to buy at certain times of the year. Ask if they have a deadline to help pinpoint the time frame.
- What is your best solution for their problem? Determine which of your offerings provides the most benefit based on who the buyers are, what they need, what their pain points are, and their purchasing schedule.
- What are your costs if the proposal is accepted? Calculate the costs, such as labor or materials, you will incur as a result of your proposal, and estimate the total projected revenue for your company.
2. Define Project Objectives & Scope
The first thing you want to do before outlining the scope of your project is to define the objective of your business proposal. It’s important that you know and articulate your objective so that you never lose sight of the reason you’re writing the proposal. This helps shape your outline and your proposal. It is also a good practice to state the objective, either in your introduction or in the executive summary of your business proposal.
Know the Objective of Your Business Proposal
To create a proposal objective, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the proposal?
- What are the needs of your prospect or customer?
- What problems are you solving with your products and services?
- How does your solution solve your customer’s or prospect’s problems?
- Once you’ve answered these questions, create a proposal objective statement that is centered around your customer’s or prospect’s needs.
Estimate Your Labor & Costs
As you want to consider how much the project will cost—and thus, how much to charge the client. Many businesses use a simple formula to estimate their labor costs: Take a mental walk-through of the project and write down the realistic number of hours it will take for each task. Add all of this up, and multiply it by 1.5.