Freelancers and small businesses must learn how to attract clients to their services. Part of this process is to write business proposals. By learning how to write a business proposal, you can identify opportunities where you and a prospective client can work together to grow. However, creating an effective business proposal is not easy.
In this article, we will be discussing how you can write a winning business proposal. We will tell you how to use business proposal templates, edit them for specific clients, and how Indy can help you manage the process from the start of the bidding process to getting the client to digitally sign a contract.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a simple document that contains all the information about a proposed solution for a prospective client. It will include numerous details and information relevant to the job, the company, and what services you provide.
While a business proposal is normally associated with a query from a business to a supplier, you can create unsolicited business proposals that can be sent to businesses. This is when you create a business proposal for a company that hasn't requested the information, or whom you've not spoken to before.
A business proposal usually has a pricing table or a payment schedule included within it. You may also choose to include client testimonials and other proof of experience/expertise.
While a lot of businesses claim they have high success rates for their business proposals, the rates of success can vary depending on numerous features. The average five-page proposal has a 50% success rate of securing the customer.
However, when you create a business proposal that is 30 pages or more, then the close rate can drop down to as low as 35%.
Therefore, while some small business owners think a longer business proposal is better, it tends not to be.
What Is a Business Proposal Email?
During the early part of any sales funnel, you need to be sending any contact within the prospective client a proposal. A proposal email is a message to the client that includes a professional document which is the business proposal.
In the business proposal email, you will want to include an executive summary of what is included within the full-length business proposal, which should include what the business proposal is for (in as short a sentence as possible), what the goals for the proposed solution are, who is responsible, the costs, and the next steps in the process.
The business proposal email should always be addressed to the decision-maker at the client's office. This person might be the team leader, department head, or the CEO/CFO of the company—even if they are not directly in contact with you.
All business proposals sent via email should be tracked. Numerous business proposal software tools can help you track the performance of your campaigns. This can include who has opened, read, and engaged with your business proposal.
Different Types of Business Proposal Emails
There are different types of business proposal emails that can be sent. It can depend on the purpose of your email as to what type, style, and length of business proposal you will edit and send. Most online tools have business proposal templates that cover a wide range of options. Here are some of the options that you might need.
Unsolicited business proposals
Not every business proposal needs to be requested by the client. Sometimes you can send out a proposal when you know that a client is looking for a solution to a problem but hasn't contacted you directly.
The problem with unsolicited proposals is that there is a fine line between useful and spam. Just sending them to any email address can get your email account blacklisted.
To ensure you aren't going to come across as spammy, you should do lots of research into the company you're pitching to. For example, if you're an SEO company pitching to brands, create a website audit. It is no good just telling them you can do better—you need to prove it. You also need to show that you can work.
Initial business proposal
Sometimes business proposals need to be less in-depth, especially when you're trying to source information from potential clients. An initial business proposal is about collecting information and offering a few potential solutions that they could follow.
The idea is that the client would then respond with what they would like, a budget, and perhaps more details about what the current situation is. An initial business proposal is normally only a couple of pages long.
Short-term business proposal
Short-term business proposals are when you're bidding for a job that is one-off or lasts for a set time (less than six months normally). You can include details such as the start date, the end date, the payment schedule, and more.
Numerous niches use short-term business proposals all the time, like app development teams, construction businesses, photographers, and website building teams.
Long-term business proposal
Some businesses have services that can last for as long as the client wants them. These long-term business proposals normally have a monthly or weekly retainer for the services they render.
Creating a business proposal for these tasks can be more challenging as you have to set what time you can provide the client, what deliverables you have regularly, and the payment options.
RFP business proposal
Sometimes you can send what is known as an RFP business proposal. This is a formally solicited business proposal from a potential client looking to solve a specific problem. Normally, brands will contact three or four companies to collect formally solicited proposals.
While short-term or long-term proposals may also fall into this category, this proposal can also be slightly different because you might be working off a brief provided in an email. You may have no further contact with the client's team. Your solicited proposal will also be one of numerous competing proposals.
What Happens When a Client Agrees to Business Proposal Ideas
When prospective clients accept a well-written business proposal, then the business proposals will become a fundamental agreement between you and your new clients. The next step in the process is to send a legally binding contract. Though, you might want to include this within the winning business proposals.
By including the contract earlier in the process, it can save time. Though if there are further negotiations during the sales process, you may need to edit the sales proposals and the legally binding contracts that are sent with them.
Why Is Using a Business Proposal Template so Useful?
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make when they are sending solicited and unsolicited proposals is that they create the proposals from scratch every time. While every prospective client having their own proposal might seem to offer that personal touch, it does mean it is harder to write a business proposal.
While you will want to edit any business proposal template, using a template can help you save time during the entire proposal lifecycle. Then you can spend more time creating more proposals or servicing the clients that you have.
Using a business proposal template also means you can standardize the output of your proposals.
There are numerous free business proposal templates you can use online. You can usually get these from a freelancer or small business productivity tool. You can often find free business proposal templates to use for different industries and niches.
Each free business proposal template should be editable for your specific need. So you might have a marketing proposal template that can be edited to become an SEO proposal template, web design proposal, or social media marketing proposal for potential clients.
Steps to Writing a Proposal Email
When you write a business proposal template, you need to think about several steps. The contents of your proposal template will differ depending on the project. Equally, it is important to form basic agreements with key elements to win more potential clients.
In most cases, you will have one or several discussions with a prospective client. Therefore, you will have spoken about the potential business solutions for the client. For example, you should have information about the potential client's problem, the value proposition of the project, the budget for the project, and how you will take payment.
However, you should not just write a simple email or cover letter to discuss the details spoken about with the prospective clients. This is too informal. You need to write a business project proposal that is very specific, provides more details, and includes a marketing brochure.
In your email, there are going to be several sections for you to include. These will include:
- A brief introduction and any background knowledge.
- Explain why you're submitting the proposal.
- Establish theirs and your objectives and goals.
- Emphasize your unique qualities.
- Briefly discuss the budget and how it will be used.
- Include a call to action and a follow-up request.
- Ensure your email signature includes your contact information, such as email, mobile number, a website URL (if you have one), and you can also add links to your social media channels.
When you write your business proposal email, you might want to add more relevant information. Or you might need to remove some details when they're not relevant.
Here are some more details on how to write a winning business proposal email.
Brief introduction and background knowledge
The first paragraph of the proposal email should capture the reader's attention. You need to make it obvious what the email topic is. This is a business proposal outline. You need to include information about yourself, the client, and more.
To help you write a business proposal email for your client, spend some time researching them online. You can get a lot of information about their branding, the language they like, and their core values through social media, their website, and media coverage of the brand.
If you've spoken with the company before, remind them about that. It might be something as simple as saying the email is a follow-up to an earlier sales call you had with a certain team member.
If you are sending an unsolicited business proposal, don't try to hide this. It is deceitful, and it can ruin any chance of a future relationship between you and the prospective client.
Explain why you're submitting the formal business proposal
The goal of the business proposal is to have a value proposition to help solve a problem. Therefore, you need to explain how the services/product you have is going to help the client. The best option is to have a problem statement that clearly describes the current pain point for the client.
Then you can detail the positive impact your business can have on the client. Remember to include as many important points as possible. Be sure you use the word 'proposal' in the cover letter/email.
Establish your objectives and goals
One of the essential elements of any business proposal format is the part where you list the objectives and goals. All the objectives and goals of the business proposal need to align with the client's goals for the project.
The project details will need to be as transactional or measurable as possible. This aspect might be hard if you've got social media marketing proposals for long-term jobs. Though you can get deliverables such as the number of posts, follower growth, or ad spend.
You might want to think about what reports you're going to provide the customer. The objectives you mention should be things that you list in reports.
Emphasize your unique qualities
Offering a potential client a set of records or actionable deliverables is one thing, but you've got to prove you have the skills and resources to complete the work. Therefore, in your proposal document, you need to include information that emphasizes the unique qualities you can bring to the project.
In addition, you might want to include quotes or reviews from past clients. Or you can include past successes.
By using persuasive arguments and demonstrating experience to your prospective clients, you can win over more clients.
However, remember that you need to use your unique selling points (USPs) to the client. Your USPs need to be something that differentiates you from competitors.
Discuss the budget and how the money will be spent briefly
Now you need to discuss with the decision-makers the cost of the project. Decision-makers will not always go for the cheapest option. They might create a list of the pros and cons of the proposals, who has the most experience, and who can offer the best cost/benefit for the problem.
To ensure you have a higher chance of securing the contract, try breaking down the cost for the project. Then the decision-maker can make a more informed decision on what the full costs for the project will be with you.
You might want to include responsive pricing tables within your business proposal.
End with a call to action and follow-up request
Now you need to add a call to action showing an actionable event that the decision-maker can make. It might encourage the new customers to act sooner, rather than waiting for a better time for them.
There are numerous calls to action that you can use. For instance, you can use one that encourages them to email you back, ask you for information, link to past client case studies, or perhaps complete a survey on the proposal.
You might also want to include a polite, friendly, and personable send-off such as you hope they have a good evening/weekend.
Finally, you want to include a follow-up request. Let the decision-maker know that you will be calling/emailing them in a few days to see if they are prepared for the project or if they have any thoughts about what you've provided them.
Ensure your email signature includes your contact details
Whether you are sending a social media marketing business proposal, or you create a business proposal for building a new tower block, you need to have a way for the client to contact you. Every business template should include all your contact details, including email, website, social media profiles, telephone number, mobile number, and others.
In addition, you will want to make sure your email signature has your name, job title, business name, and other details. If you have a license, LLC number, or another permit, then you should include these in the email signature.
A Brief Overview Is Important
When you create a business proposal you must provide valuable information. The problem is that many business owners think this means they shouldn't be writing short business proposals, but rather packing them full of information that overwhelms the reader.
Earlier in the article, we discussed how a five-page proposal template was much more successful than a 30-page proposal. And to help you here, you should ensure that when you write a business proposal, you keep the overview as brief as possible.
Luckily, when you use business proposal templates, you can often see they leave a limited space for the project overview. Ideally, the most you want to write in your business proposal is about 200–250 words. Though the shorter you can create it, the better.
The advantage of the shorter overview is that it allows the reader to ascertain very quickly whether or not you are a suitable business to help them.
When Is It Appropriate to Use Proposal Letters?
There are times when you may need to send proposal letters instead of a proposal email. Sometimes you might not have email contact details for the customer. Or you might have noticed that they don't respond to emails.
A proposal letter can be used as a teaser for a more comprehensive, more thorough business proposal. There are numerous different types of proposals that these are more suitable for as well.
What Is the Significance of Proposal Letters?
Proposal letters are often the first contact you have when you are pitching potential customers. Therefore, the letter is the best way to build a relationship with the customer. You need to tell them what you do, how you can help them, and why you are worth your fees.
A proposal letter needs to be eye-catching—something that is going to grab their attention and make them think. At the same time, it needs to include your small business branding. Therefore, you need to include small details such as the logo, brand colors, the right language, social media links, email and website addresses, and more.
In addition, you can include a sample of a proposal, the contract, and a pricing table for your services.
A proposal template is a document that lays out the sections you need to complete to present to a potential customer a concise business proposal. It assists you in ensuring the proposal you're drafting contains all of the necessary information required by your prospect for them to make an informed decision.
Contact information, work specifics, and pricing are all included in the proposal templates, and to save time, you may find that certain aspects have been pre-filled. To finish the proposal, just add or change the information to find the right solution for you.
If you include a signature at the end of the business proposal, the templates can be considered legally binding contracts. However, you might want to seek legal support before relying on them. Do this before sending them out to prospective customers.
What Is the Purpose of a New Business Proposal Template?
Templates for business proposals help you save time and money by eliminating the need to redo your work each time you want to send a new proposal to a new prospect or lead.
Using templates ensures you can put less time into administrative tasks and focus more on the work you do, thereby earning more money.
You can often get access to free templates, which means you can save money. And most new business proposal templates have been written with best practices in mind. Therefore, they look more professional and are more likely to close a deal.
What Is the Best Way to Make a Great Business Proposal Template?
When you are using a CRM or project management tool, there is usually software to help you write a business proposal. Using these to create a business proposal can be very rewarding. Start with one of their templates, like a sales proposal template, and then add or edit the template to your specific needs.
Some elements you might want to add to the winning proposal template include the following:
- A branded title page
- Logo, company name (if you have one), and branding in the header
- Information about how to contact you
- Cover letter or introduction
- Problem statement
- Services description (i.e., proposed solutions)
- Costs, budgets, quotes, and payment terms
- Delivery timeline
- A legally binding contract
How Can Indy Help?
Indy is an all-in-one solution that helps freelancers to achieve their potential. We offer a range of free business proposal templates that anyone can use. Edit these templates for specific requirements, and send the finished document to prospective clients to get them to sign off on projects. We also have tools for digital signatures and storing documents. In our soute you’ll also find useful tools that will help you with::
- Creating invoices and sending them off to clients.
- Creating feedback forms or surveys for embedding on social media.
- Taking payments online.
- A CRM tool to help you track all the customers and clients you currently work with.
Indy has numerous tools available with two pricing options: free or low-cost monthly subscription. On the free plan, you can gain access to everything for three contracts per month.
Creating business proposals is a vital activity for any business. Yet so many businesses struggle with this option. Writing winning business proposals is about knowing what to write, when, and how. However, by using templates, you can do the job much more efficiently.
Indy offers small business owners the chance to write winning business proposals quickly and effortlessly. Drag-and-drop content blocks make it easy for any team member, and you can create customized proposals for winning new clients. Why not try Indy for free today?