Follow this business proposal example and learn how to write the perfect business proposals today.
As our name suggests, we’re very familiar with business proposals here on Proposeful 🙂
We’ve spent a lot of time studying what goes into creating an effective business proposal and in this page you’ll be able to follow us as we analyse a business proposal example and break it down into a simple to follow structure.
Business Proposal Example
The proposal sample we’ll be analysing is one of our free proposal templates and is composed of all the information your client will need to make a decision.
It’s a made-up proposal for the made-up company we call Acme Co. It doesn’t really matter what exactly the services or products you’re selling are, most buying decisions require pretty much the same information:
- What am I buying?
- Why do I need it?
- How will this investment return to me?
- Who am I buying this from?
- Can I trust this provider?
- Can I afford it?
If you consider all of your recent buying decisions – either personal or professional – you probably mentally considered all of these items. Sometimes, we skip some of them: for example we can be more flexible with the price when we’re in great need of something, or we can immediately trust someone who we don’t really know but was very positively recommended by someone else we trust.
As we follow our business proposal example, you’ll notice how we address each part of these items and how positively our client should feel about your offer when you follow this structure.
What am I buying? How to set the mood right
Does your client really need to be reminded?
Specifying what exactly your client is purchasing helps set the tone for the rest of our pitch. In our proposal example, we address this right on the cover, by creating a title that accurately translates the client’s needs into a specific, deliverable solution.
For example, if your client is requesting a proposal for an e-commerce store so that they can sell their products online, which of the following titles should you use?
- E-commerce development proposal
- Online store to help Acme Co. reach more clients
It’s easy to see how the second one shows more alignment with your client’s goals and a better understanding of their needs. Your client might even get excited when reading a masterful title like this, as they remember why exactly they’re looking to spend money!
Why do I need it?
We address this question in the section of our proposal example we call “the challenge”.
The idea here is to explain to your client – in your own words – the exact problem they have and why they should be looking to fix it.
Although your client already knows that, exposing the problem in your own words is again a great way to connect to your client – showing you understand their challenges – and offers an opportunity to remind them why they so desperately need you (that’s the reaction you want to get, after all!)
What ROI can I expect?
If you have any hope of closing a sale, your client better be getting more value from hiring you than from keeping their money in the bank, right?
That’s why you need to address the ROI (Return On Investment) your client can expect to get.
Now, that might be hard to speculate, and you might feel you don’t really have an answer for that. In some industries – advertising, for example – ROI is a part of day-to-day operation and it’s easy to speculate and create goals. In others – like photography, for example – ROI can be more qualitative than quantitative. Still, it’s always possible to present a clear return to your client.
For example, if you’re working on something to strengthen their brand – like photography, graphic design, a new logo, etc. – you can write about how a stronger brand and better quality images and pictures help improve the results from campaigns and build customer trust. You don’t have to put a number on it, but you must be able to explain what they’re getting out of it.
We address this question in both the “Our Solution” and “Expected Results” sections of our proposal example, as the ROI is tightly linked to your unique value proposition.
Who am I buying this from and can I trust them?
If you have managed to build interest in your client by now, they might be asking themselves the first soft sales objections, like:
- Is this provider trustworthy?
- Can’t we do this internally with our own team?
- Do they really have the experience to achieve our goals?
All of those questions are natural in any sales process. In retail, customers will sometimes research brands and different options for months online before making a purchase decision. Your sales are no different – even if the client is in a hurry or you’re the only provider available, you won’t close the sale if they don’t trust you.
Also, even if you have been referred to this customer by someone you trust, it’s important to remember that sales, specially in larger companies, usually involve more than a single person. In fact, in a typical 100-people company, up to 7 people can be involved in a buying decision.
Therefore, it’s important that your primary contact not only trusts you, but has reasons to defend you as the perfect match for their company when deciding internally between providers.
We address those issues in the “Why Us” and “Case Study” sections of our proposal sample, where you can tell your clients a bit about your work and experience and – more importantly what you have done for other companies.
If you’ve had a similar client with a similar problem, it’s a great idea to include a (anonymous, if need be) case study about what sorts of results you were able to achieve for your other client. For some areas – e.g. webdesign – a portfolio is enough, but for consultants and marketers, for example, it’s important to go into details of what problems you’ve solved for other clients.
This will be very important in building trust in your client. You’ll note that in our proposal example we use testimonials. These area a great, often overlooked, way to show your prospect that other companies and people trusted you as well and had a great experience working with you.
Can I afford it?
If your client is confident your solution is solid, their ROI is clear and you are the perfect company for their job, they might still have one objection: money!
We address this in the “Total Investment” section of our proposal sample, where we list a few options for our client to choose from. It’s important to limit choices to 3 or 4 at most, ideally less. The reason for that is you don’t want to create friction and have your client confused regarding different packages and marginally different ROI.
You’ll notice in our proposal example we always use the term “Investment” when referring to price. The reason for that is to constantly remind our client that they’re not spending frivolously, but rather investing in a solution with clear ROI to their business.
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