Business Proposal Format

Anna Spooner
Business people discussing documents

A business proposal is a vital tool for winning customers. It is a formal document that follows a specific format and includes a number of key elements. It should offer specific solutions to a client's needs while also conveying why you're the best-qualified vendor or service provider for them to choose.

Introduction

The first section of the proposal introduces your company to the prospect.

  • Highlight your company's unique selling proposition and talk about why you stand out from others who offer the same product or service.
  • Describe your mission and offerings in a way that relates to the needs of your reader. For instance, if you are soliciting a non-profit, discuss your company's commitment to giving back to those who need help.

Table of Contents

Once you've introduced yourself, you may also want to include a table of contents. This section is only needed if your proposal is especially long or detailed.

Executive Summary

The executive summary gives a brief overview of what you are about to propose in detail. It should quickly review key points, such as:

  • What problem the client faces that you can solve
  • What your solution is
  • Why you are uniquely qualified to provide this solution

This will all be discussed in detail in the main body of the proposal, so just provide a general outline - written in a persuasive way! - in this section.

Statement of the Problem or Issue

In the problem statement, discuss the specific issue(s) your prospect is facing. To make this section especially persuasive, talk specifically about the negative impact the problem is having. It is also a good idea to discuss what the organization will be able to do once you solve the problem. Paint a picture of how they will be better able to carry out their mission.

Proposed Solution

After you've defined the problem, you can offer your solution. Focus primarily on what you can provide and the many benefits the client will get from hiring you. Whether your solution is a product or service, be sure to use client-focused language. Avoid using jargon or technical terms.

Qualifications

Once you've offered your solution, describe in detail why you're the most qualified vendor or service provider. Discuss things like:

  • Results you've helped others achieve
  • Awards you've won
  • The length of time you've been in business
  • Overall years of experience
  • Testimonials from other customers

Timetable and Costs

The exact content of the timetable and costs section will depend on the type of solution(s) you are offering.

  • As a service provider, you can talk about completion stages and goals.
  • As a product vendor, you can talk about how quickly the product will arrive.

Describe the costs based on your business model. For example, your solution may involve a one-time fee, a subscription, or a payment plan.

Benefit Statement

The most persuasive sales pitches focus on the transformation the customer will receive from working with you. Focus on the prospect, their needs, and the benefits they will see. Talk about your company's unique ability to deliver these results.

Conclusion

The conclusion is your final opportunity to sell the prospect on your work! Wrap up your business proposal by reiterating how tough the client's problem is and how perfect your solution is. End by specifying when you will call or drop by to answer questions they have about the proposal.

Tip: Make sure you follow up - don't leave it up to the prospect to reach out to you.

Appendix

If your proposal needs supporting documentation, include it in an appendix. This can include data, charts, tables, projections, or testimonials. An appendix is a great way to include detailed information without breaking the flow of your story in the business proposal.

Keep it Simple

It is important to keep your proposal simple and well-organized. Consider using one of these free business proposal samples to provide a customizable structure. When finalizing your proposals, be sure to focus on the benefits your customers see in their businesses or lives as a result of buying from you. When you share the transformations they can experience, they'll have a hard time turning you down!

Business Proposal Format