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How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]
Published: December 12, 2022
It's finally happened. You've started a new business, and your customer base is starting to expand. But even though you're making progress, you still feel like you could be doing better.
There's a whole world of untapped potential around you — prospects you know would benefit from your product or service. And the issues you're running into are less about your solution's soundness and more about how you can reach your potential base.
That's where business proposals come in. They can bridge the gap between you and potential clients. A solid proposal can outline your value proposition and persuade a company or organization to do business with you.
Here, we'll take a look at the various kinds of business proposals and go over how to write one. We’ll also see some ideas and examples to help guide yours.
Know exactly what you need? Jump to one of the following sections:
What is a business proposal?
Types of business proposals, how to write a business proposal, business proposal ideas, business proposal templates, business proposal example.
A business proposal is a formal document that’s created by a company and provided to a prospect to secure a business agreement.
It's a common misconception that business proposals and business plans are the same. The proposal aims to sell your product or service rather than your business itself. Instead of assisting your search for investors to fund your business, a proposal helps you seek new customers.
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There are two types of business proposals: unsolicited and solicited.
- Unsolicited Business Proposals - With unsolicited business proposals, you approach a potential customer with a proposal, even if they don't request one, to gain their business.
- Solicited Business Proposal s - Solicited business proposals are requested by a prospective client so that they can decide whether or not to do business with your company.
In a solicited business proposal, the other organization asks for a request for proposal (RFP). When a company needs a problem solved, they invite other businesses to submit a proposal that details how they'd solve it.
Whether the proposal is solicited or unsolicited, the steps to create your proposal are similar. Ensure it includes three main points: a statement of the organization's problem, proposed solution, and pricing information.
- Begin with a title page.
- Create a table of contents.
- Explain your “why” with an executive summary.
- State the problem or need.
- Propose a solution.
- Share your qualifications.
- Include pricing options.
- Summarize with a conclusion.
- Clarify your terms and conditions.
- Include a space for signatures to document agreement.
Before writing your business proposal, it's crucial you understand the company. If they've sent you an RFP, make sure you read it carefully, so you know exactly what they want. It can also be helpful to have an initial call or meeting with the new client to ensure you fully understand the problem they're trying to solve and their objectives.
Once you've done your research, it's time to begin writing your business proposal. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, but let's take a look at some elements proposals often include. (I designed this example business proposal using Canva .)
Free Business Proposal Template
Fill out the form to get your template., 1. begin with a title page..
You have to convey some basic information here. Introduce yourself and your business. Be sure to include your name, your company's name, the date you submitted the proposal, and the name of the client or individual you're submitting the proposal to.
Your title page should reconcile engagement with professionalism. It's a tone-setter, so you need to make sure yours is sleek, aesthetically appealing, and not too "out there."
Here's an example of what a business proposal template looks like when done right:
The executive summary details exactly why you're sending the proposal and why your solution is the best for the prospective client. Specificity is key here. Why are you the best option for them?
Similar to a value proposition, your executive summary outlines the benefits of your company's products or services and how they can solve your potential client's problem. After reading your executive summary, the prospect should have a clear idea of how you can help them, even if they don't read the entire proposal. Here's what one should look like:
4. State the problem or need.
This is where you provide a summary of the issue impacting the potential client. It provides you with the opportunity to show them you clearly understand their needs and the problem they need help solving.
Research, critical thinking, and extra thought are key here. You have to do your homework. Take a holistic look at the specific issues your client faces that you can help solve. Then, compellingly frame them in a way that sets you up for the next step.
7. Include pricing options.
Pricing is where things can get a bit tricky, as you don't want to under or over-price your product. If you'd like to provide the prospect with a few pricing options for their budget, include an optional fee table . Some proposal software offer responsive pricing tables which allow clients to check the products or services they're interested in, and the price will automatically adjust.
8. Summarize with a conclusion.
After providing the above information, it’s necessary to simplify it into one final section. Briefly summarize the proposal. Touch on your qualifications and why you’d serve as the best choice. To prompt further conversation, confirm your availability. At the end of the proposal, the goal is to have the client ready to work with you. Provide your contact information to allow them to follow up easily.
9. Clarify your terms and conditions.
This is where you go into detail about the project timeline, pricing, and payment schedules. It's essentially a summary of what you and the client agree to if they accept your proposal. Make sure you clear the terms and conditions with your own legal team before sending the proposal to the client.
We know how crucial a great business proposal is to your and your clients' success. That's why we've compiled 2 Free Business Proposal Templates for you to use and customize for any of your projects. You'll gain access to a concise, one-page template (pictured above), as well as a longer template for you to embellish on your plan and proposal. Download the templates now to get started on building your proposal.
2. Web Design Proposal
Companies, big and small, dedicate resources to establishing a noticeable social media presence. With advertising on social networks projected to reach $56.85 billion dollars in 2022 , it's in your business's best interest to have a plan for growing your client's social media presence.
To help you in that effort, the information in this social media marketing proposal includes an executive summary to help introduce your high-level ideas, an assessment of the client’s company to demonstrate your diligence, and a breakdown of billing to show how your company charges for posting, content creation, and analytics.
8. Content Marketing Proposal
When pitching your content marketing services to clients, this template can help you organize your ideas. While it walks you through initial objectives and how to communicate your prospected results, one of the most helpful parts of this template is the pricing ideas it gives you when charging for your services.
Business proposal templates are helpful places to get started, but what should your business proposal look like when it's complete? Below, we share an example of a business proposal template that will inspire you.
In the business template example above, Social Portal Consulting (SPC) pitches a marketing proposal to Graphic Bean. At first sight, this proposal appeals to the creative. A nice touch would include designing the layout in your or your client’s brand colors. In addition to the design, the use of social media icons quickly tells the prospect what platforms Social Portal is pitching. Because we see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest icons, the client instantly knows that this proposal does not include LinkedIn, YouTube, or other platforms.
While maintaining its design, this example outlines Social Portal Consulting’s plans efficiently. It begins by providing insight into Graphic Bean and its goals before elaborating on how SPC can leverage its expertise to help them achieve it. This business proposal template includes an easy-to-follow timeframe for goals and objectives while keeping the client abreast of how payment will happen across the project.
Overall, this is an excellent example of how to combine the elements of social media marketing into a creative and concise business proposal. Finally, we'll leave you with some business proposal ideas to get you started on your own.
- Start with an outline.
- Include data and visuals.
- Add social proof.
- Incorporate video into your proposal.
- Use a call-to-action.
- Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Keep it simple.
- Make the decision for them.
- Stay on brand.
- Quality control.
There's a lot to keep in mind when writing a business proposal. Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Start with an outline.
If you want to produce a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to have some idea of what you're hoping to achieve with it. So before you dive into writing, outline the major sections of your business proposal and the pertinent information you want to include. This will ensure you stay focused and your message stays intact as you write.
2. Include data and visuals.
You want your business proposal to capture your prospect's attention and help set you apart from any other ones they might have received. One of the best ways to do that is to include hard, quantitative data that helps stress the value of your business.
If you can find some relevant, compelling figures that highlight what you have to offer, you can establish authority and make yourself that much more convincing. It also helps to include visuals such as charts and graphs to enhance your proposal.
3. Add social proof.
Like the previous point, adding social proof lends your proposal another degree of credibility. You can only be so convincing when you're personally talking up how great your business is.
Prospects are skeptical. In many — if not most — cases, they probably won't take you at your word. They'll likely trust peers and fellow customers more than someone trying to win their business. That's why including elements like customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.
4. Incorporate video into your proposal.
If you're creating an online proposal using document file formats like PDF, you can include multimedia elements to enhance the proposal experience. They can make your document richer and more engaging.
Whether you add video at the beginning as an intro to your proposal or in the project breakdown to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts, extras like this can make an impression. This works especially on prospects who are visual or auditory communicators.
5. Use a call-to-action.
Prospects need direction. The best proposal in the world can only take you so far if you don't clearly define the next steps. That's why you have to make sure the reader knows what to do next after reading your proposal.
A clear-cut call-to-action is the best way to get there. Define and highlight exactly what they should do to act on the interest your proposal has generated. Without that guidance, you might leave your reader in limbo.
6. Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.
They say you won't receive unless you ask. Readers won't explore the upper tiers of your solutions if you don't give them the opportunity. If you want to use your business proposal as a chance to get the most out of a reader's interest, you need to include some additional information about your business for them to act on. They need to know what else you have to offer.
7. Create a sense of urgency.
No one wants to feel as if they missed out on a great opportunity. A lack of urgency tends to cause people to drag their feet and take time when making a decision. As you create your business proposal, your goal should be to create a sense of urgency.
Prospective clients should read your business proposal and feel that now is the best time to sign up for your service. A way you can accomplish this is by stating your short and long-term goals for their business. While they will have to wait for the long-term goals, make the short-term goals so enticing that they are instantly ready to begin a collaboration.
8. Keep it simple.
There's no definitive blueprint for how long a business proposal has to be. Yours should be however long it takes to convey the information you want to get across.
That said, you're best off focusing on quality over quantity. Keep your sentences short and simple, and avoid including too much business jargon. You want your proposal to be straightforward enough for anyone who picks it up to make sense of it. So don't get carried away with being too fancy.
9. Make the decision for them.
Craft your copy in a way that seems like saying "no" to the proposal would be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Your offer should go above and beyond their expectations, and you should do everything in your power to eliminate friction and objections along the way.
10. Stay on brand.
Don't be afraid to let your company's personality shine through in your proposal. Stay true to your brand and show the client what sets you apart from your competitors.
11. Quality control.
Your proposal needs to be clean and airtight. You don't want to undermine your messaging by coming off as sloppy and unprofessional. Before you send the proposal out, make sure to read and reread it for any typos or grammatical errors.
Let your business proposal do the talking.
Depending on the type of business you're in, your business proposal elements will vary based on the prospect's needs. After reading through your plan, prospective clients should have very few questions about your company and what it can do for them. With the tips and examples in this article, you have all the tools to guide you through the process. With a professional, customized business proposal, you're sure to delight your client and potentially gain their business.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Business Proposal Tips, Templates, and Examples (2023)
- by Evan Ferguson
- Starting Up
- Feb 10, 2023
- 17 minute read
Writing a business proposal is something that few new business owners know how to do when starting a business . In the early stages, you’re focused on your product, your business plan , and getting everything up and running, which often makes creating a business proposal one of the last things on your mind.
But a business proposal is actually more important than you might realize. Even if you don’t have an immediate use for your business proposal, it can help create a plan of action for your business, secure funding, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, and act as a reference point for the direction of your business.
Whether you’re looking to do business with another company or just want to create a business proposal for prospective clients, here’s our guide on how to create a well-written business proposal that can help you generate revenue for your business.
Table of Contents
What is a business proposal?
What are the types of business proposals, how to write a business proposal, after sending: tips on how to follow up, where to find business proposal templates, business proposal faq.
A business proposal is a document sent to prospective clients in the hopes of working with them on a project—whether it be a partnership or wanting to be the company who helps with a specific project. A business proposal can range from something smaller in scope (providing an SEO strategy document for example) or something large like running a company’s marketing efforts for them.
Business proposals can range in the topics they cover, depending on the nature of the involved businesses and your proposed solution.
At the most basic level, business proposals are about addressing the needs of prospective clients and showing them why your company is the best to fit those needs. For businesses focused on B2B services especially, knowing how to write an effective business proposal is crucial to growth.
Business proposals can vary depending on the service and nature of the project proposal, but they typically fall into three distinct categories.
- Formally solicited proposals. This describes proposals where the business you’re hoping to work with has formally asked you to submit a proposal. They’re usually written in response to published requirements from the business looking for proposals. Typically, this is the result of a publicly posted request for proposals, where a prospective client is going through many proposals and finding the best one. Your job here would then be to create a proposed solution based on the specific needs of a potential client or customer.
- Informally solicited business proposals. Informally solicited proposals typically occur following conversations between a prospective client and a vendor. Usually, the customer in this case is not asking for competing proposals and there tends to be fewer formal requirements.
- Unsolicited business proposals. These proposals tend to be more generic in nature, acting as a sort of marketing brochure. Unsolicited proposals are typically used at trade shows or other public venues, where a business is shopping around for prospective clients. While they can generate business to some extent, unsolicited business proposals can sometimes be seen as spammy or, worse, unprofessional.
Not all proposals will fit neatly into these categories. There are proposals that might start off formally solicited but then be adapted into unsolicited proposals. But having a high-level understanding of each of the three common types will help you adjust where needed.
Business proposals can vary slightly in how they’re formatted, but there are a couple of crucial elements that all business proposals should have. You can always compare your proposals with a free business proposal template to ensure you’re on the right track.
In general you’ll want to follow these steps.
1. Create your title page
The title page acts as your proposal’s “cover,” so it’s especially important in terms of aesthetics. Your title page should convey a couple of pieces of basic information about your business and the proposal, such as the title of the proposal, your business’ name, contact information, and the date you’re submitting the proposal (or the date the proposal is crafted, in the case of unsolicited proposals).
Your title page should be professional, but should still seek to grab the reader’s attention and draw them in. It’s pivotal in setting the tone of your proposal, so, like any advertisement, it should convey your brand’s aesthetics and character. It’s usually a good idea to include your company logo somewhere too. If you’re putting together a social media marketing proposal for example, try and incorporate your social media marketing skill set when creating your proposal.
This is the first thing your client will see, so it’s important to convey your brand and proposal in a way that’s succinct, yet specific. Think of it like any visual content: viewers will only glance at it for a brief moment, so it must convey a lot of information very quickly.
Avoid complicated graphics that may distract from the central message of the proposal. Stylistically, it should be neat and clean. Here’s an example of what a well-designed business proposal might look like.
2. Compile a table of contents
A table of contents will make it easier to navigate the contents of the document. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the first page (occasionally, it follows the cover letter), but it definitely should be one of the first pages.
Your contents page should be chronological. Avoid getting too granular with items on the list, because this will come off as noisy and overwhelming.
A good strategy is to have the items on your list reflect specific pain points or questions the reader may have so that it’s easy for them to use the table of contents as a reference point for all their questions.
3. Write a cover letter
Not to be confused with your title page, your cover letter serves as an introduction of yourself. Some proposals might even include the cover letter before the table of contents as a way of setting up the entire proposal.
Your cover letter should be short and no more than one page. In a few paragraphs, briefly describe your company’s background, mission statement , and unique selling proposition .
Your cover letter should be friendly and polite—don’t forget your pleases and thank yous. Leave your contact information and encourage your readers to reach out to you with any questions.
Unlike a résumé cover letter, visual graphics are encouraged, especially if they illustrate an important aspect of your brand’s accomplishments or mission.
4. Write the executive summary
The executive summary may be the most important part of your proposal. An executive summary provides details about why you’re sending the proposal and your methodology for why you’re the best option for the client to choose from.
Your executive summary acts similarly to a value proposition that makes your company different and how your prospective client will benefit from working with you.
Executive summaries summarize, but they should still be specific. Identify the client’s exact issues, explain what your company does, and outline your proposed solutions to the client’s problems.
More detailed information will follow in the rest of the proposal, so while it shouldn’t be too detailed, it should still be specific. There’s no need to cover logistics or strategies here, but it should still offer a specific solution to a specific problem.
Your executive summary should be finely tuned to the client’s needs. Even if you’re passing the proposal document on to many potential clients, it should read as though it was written for one client specifically . If potential customers have different problems, you’ll want to make adjustments to your summary for each of them.
Be mindful of your tone here as well. A company that rents out party buses for college students will expect a very different tone from a company offering financial advice to seniors.
Your summary should give the reader a clear idea of how your company can help them, and invite them to continue reading for more details. The summary should be specific enough to act as a standalone document but brief enough that it will inspire additional questions.
Your executive summary should be about two to four pages, but try to keep it short if your overall proposal isn’t very long. Remember that the details will come later.
5. Outline your customers’ problem and your company’s solution
In this section, you’ll want to go into more detail about the solutions you offered in your executive summary. Your summary explained what you can do and why you’re the ideal client to do it. In the proposal pages, you’ll cover how you plan on doing it and when it can be done (a time frame).
When writing your proposal pages, it helps to consider what questions your client will have and provide them with detailed answers.
Many writers of business proposals think of their proposal pages in terms of problems and solutions . With each proposal, start by outlining the potential issues the client might face. In doing this, you’ll show your potential clients that you have a deep understanding of their needs.
Problem and solution pages require a lot of research. You want to show potential clients that you’ve done your homework: you understand the client’s needs and know exactly what they’re setting out to do.
How you choose to break down the client’s problems and solutions is up to you. Some proposal document writers will list a number of problem statements alongside detailed deliverables. Other proposals might focus on one or two larger problems and provide a list of solutions to them.
Timetables are also important here. Potential clients will want to know how quickly you’ll be able to enact your solution and when they can expect to see results. Timetables answer these questions and, as a bonus, they’re also a handy visual tool that break-up text while conveying important information.
Your own proposal will need to break down problems and solutions in a way that’s appealing to your prospective client and makes sense for your industry, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this section.
That being said, it’s generally a good idea to break up your proposal content into sections that specifically identify each problem and propose a solution. Here are some key points to address for each section:
- The problem. Use data to back up your claims, and be specific about where your client may be falling short of their goals.
- Implementation. Explain in detail what changes you plan on making, how long it will take to make these changes, and the purpose of making these changes.
- Goals. Explain how you will evaluate the success of your solution and when your client can expect to see results from the changes you’ve implemented.
- Benefits. Draw upon the assessment of the problem and explain the nature of the impact these changes will make.
Your proposal pages should cover all of the details of the plans you will implement. It’s best to break down the text into bite-sized chunks so it’s easier to read. Decorative graphics should be avoided here, but visual tools like charts and graphs are great for illustrating your points.
6. Create a pricing table
Your pricing table should follow your problem and solution pages. It will include all of your products and services, paired with their pricing information.
>How you structure your pricing strategy is largely dependent on the type of service you’re offering. That said, it’s usually a good idea to provide prospective clients with options . A single flat fee makes your proposal a yes or no question, which is easy to reject.
Adding pricing options provides clients with a more negotiable starting point, opening up the conversation about their particular needs, rather than acting as an end point.
Your pricing structure should be formatted in a table that’s easy to read. Offer recurring payment options, both monthly and yearly. Give discounted rates for long-term commitments. Offer add-ons, upgrades, and options. Transparency is crucial in this section. Make sure it’s easy for your clients to understand what they’re paying for and what options they have for customizing your service. Nobody likes hidden fees or fine-print stipulations. Include all the details of your pricing options in a way that’s clear and concise.
Depending on the type of business you’re in, you may not want to include your pricing upfront before serious discussions have been had, but it’s important to get into the habit of effectively communicating your pricing regardless.
PROPOSAL TIP: Some proposal software tools offer responsive pricing tables that allow your clients to adjust their plan to fit their needs and automatically recalculates their total.
Learn more: Psychological Pricing: What Your Prices Really Say to Customers
7. Share more information about your company
Like an About Us page on your website, your business proposal’s About Us page should share the story of your business, with you, the founder, as that story’s main character. A good About Us page should be brief, but still contain all the elements of a compelling narrative:
- Setting. Set the scene: introduce the story’s protagonist(s), yourself, and your co-founders, and describe how you came together to form your business.
- Conflict. What problem inspired you to start your business? Describe the issue your business identified and set out to solve.
- Plot. How did you and your team set out to find the solution to your problem? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
- Resolution. What was your solution? How has it changed your industry? What milestones have you hit and how did your business set out to solve the problem?
- Characters. Introduce the rest of your team. Offer brief bios of your team members and introduce your clients to the people they’ll be working with on your project.
- Denouement. What comes next? Describe what you see in your company’s future. Talk about how you intend to continue pursuing your goals. Make sure to set yourself up for a good sequel.
8. Summarize your qualifications
In your cover letter, you touched on what makes your company uniquely qualified to solve your customers’ problems. In the qualifications summary, you’ll be going into detail about why your business is best qualified to help potential customers achieve their goals.
The best qualifications summaries rely on social proof to make their case. Include case studies of previous clients, customer testimonials, praise on social media, endorsements from trusted experts in your field, and anything else that might showcase the value you provide your clients.
For example, Omsom , a shop that sells delicious Asian sauce starters that help people make speedy restaurant-quality dinners, includes endorsements from Vice , CNN, and Vogue on its homepage.
9. Lay out the terms of the agreement
At the end of your marketing proposal, you’ll want to clarify the offer you’re making to your clients by outlining the terms and conditions of your proposal. Proposals may be considered legally binding contracts in some jurisdictions, so it’s best to work with a legal expert in crafting this section.
Not all business proposals include a legally binding contract, so if your proposal is meant to draw your client into further negotiations, you might just include a simple call to action that provides instructions on following up with you for further negotiation.
If you do include a legally binding contract, make sure to provide clients with a space for signing the agreement, or indicating their preferred method of moving forward.
It can be a little nerve-wracking waiting to hear back from clients during the sales process, but it’s important to remain patient. Give potential decision makers some time—remember that they still need to tend to the day-to-day functions of their business.
If you haven’t heard back and want to give potential clients a little nudge, here are some tips for following up on your proposal:
- Give them time. Wait at least a week before sending a follow-up. If they’ve confirmed receipt of your proposal, give them a week from the date of confirmation. Keep in mind that they may want to discuss it with their team before reaching back out to you.
- Grab their attention with a good subject line. As with other types of email marketing , a compelling subject line will increase the likelihood that they’ll open your email.
- Be brief. No need to go into finer details here—let your proposal do most of the talking. Use your follow-up to emphasize that you’re available for any questions, and make it easy for them to reach back out to you.
- Avoid high-pressure, salesy language. Your goal here is securing a partner , not a customer. Hacky advertising cliches like “Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity!” will come off as alienating to potential clients.
- Be friendly, approachable, and authentic. Your follow-up is a good opportunity to preview what it will be like working with you. Be polite, but casual—as though you’re reaching out to your favorite work colleague.
- Know when to quit. It’s easy to overlook one or two emails, but much harder to overlook three or four. If your client hasn’t responded to the three follow-ups, it’s time to move on.
If you’re just starting a business and have never written a business proposal before, it’s a good idea to take a look at a few of them to get an idea how they’re composed for different types of businesses . Here are some good places to find examples of templates and layouts to help you in business proposal writing.
- PandaDoc . PandaDoc boasts a wide library of over 167 free business proposal templates. Other features include interactive quote pages, contract templates, and e-signature capabilities.
- Canva . Among Canva’s wide variety of free design templates are a ton of free business proposal examples. Canva allows you to filter different proposal templates by style and theme, making it easy to find a template that matches your branding.
- Proposify/a>. Proposify offers a ton of templates for business proposals and business contracts that include features like electronic signatures, interactive client previews, language translation, and data metrics that help you track open rates—which is especially useful if you’re sending your proposal to multiple clients.
- Jotform . Jotform includes a wide collection of free and paid PDF templates for proposals in all kinds of industries, for all kinds of projects. Templates are converted into PDFs for easy printing, and even include a digital signature feature that allows your clients to sign your agreement digitally.
- Better Proposals . Better Proposals has a ton of free resources for business owners looking to learn more about how to write proposals. Along with business proposal templates, they also offer templates for quotes, contracts, and online brochures.
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Don’t miss the opportunity to grow your small business
Working with clients is an incredible opportunity to grow your business. Not only because of the financial gains, but because building strong, working relationships in your industry will open up new avenues for growth and help build your reputation among your peers.
A lot of work goes into creating a business proposal, but learning how to compose an effective business proposal will set you up for years of success. No matter what industry you’re in, there will likely come a time when you’ll need to write a business proposal.
The more satisfied customers you have, the easier it will be to attract new clients. Each new opportunity at a partnership is a stepping stone toward continued success. Give some of these business proposal ideas a try today.
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How long should a business proposal be.
A business proposal should ideally be less than 10 pages where possible, but it’s largely dependent on the type of proposal you’re making and how far your services stretch. Things like your cover letter, summary, and pricing page should be kept short—no more than two pages for each. The majority of your proposal should be your proposal pages, which go into detail about each aspect of your proposal.
What are the different sections of a business proposal?
A basic business proposal consists of a titles page, tables of contents, cover letter, executive summary, proposal pages, pricing page, additional info about your business, and the agreement you’re proposing.
What is a basic business proposal?
A basic business proposal includes all of the elements listed above. Different industries may include unique features (for example, an app developer may include interactive elements to illustrate how their product works), but these aspects are considered standard features to business proposals.
How do you write a business proposal?
Start by choosing a template and considering what makes your business different from the competition, and why you’re in the best position to assist potential clients with their needs. Be specific about what you can help your potential clients with, and make it easy for them to find out how to get in contact with you if they have questions.
About the author
Evan Ferguson is a writer, digital artist, and content creator at Shopify. He is best-known for once being retweeted by Ice T.
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25 Creative Business Proposal Ideas for Better Sales in 2022
A great business proposal has two jobs:
- It helps you stand out and be memorable.
- It also helps you close the deal by presenting a more compelling offer.
It’s crucial for your business proposal to include all the important details and have an attractive creative proposal design and compelling copy.
If you’re wondering how to close more sales and win more clients with your proposals, you’re in the right place.
We’ve gathered 20 creative business proposal idea examples that'll help you improve your sales in 2022. We'll also explain how you can use ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">proposal templates to create attractive proposals quickly.
Find Stunning Business Proposal Templates on Envato Elements
If you’re ready to start implementing some of these unique business proposal ideas, stop by Envato Elements and check out our collection of ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">awesome premium business proposal templates .
We've got thousands of business proposal ideas templates on Envato Elements that not only have an attractive creative proposal design but are also easy to customize. The best part about business proposal templates is that they save you time. They already include all the important elements, so you won’t have to start from scratch.
ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Explore Business Proposal Templates
25 Great Business Proposal Ideas for 2022
Here are 25 creative business proposal idea examples that you can use to improve your bottom line and close more deals:
1. Outline Your Proposal First
No matter how many proposals you’ve written so far, creating an outline for your proposal should always be the first task on your list. An outline will help you get clear on what you’re offering to the client. It'll also help you create a structure that'll present all the needed information in a logical manner.
Your proposal should include the following sections:
- an introduction section
- your client’s problem
- your proposed solution
- examples and case studies that show your previous expertise and success rate
- how much the project will cost
- what steps they need to take to get the project rolling
Outlining your proposals and structuring them logically helps potential clients understand exactly how you can help them and why they should hire you. The following tutorial will help you to learn more about writing a proposal:
2. Include Testimonials
Testimonials aren’t reserved only for your website. Add them to your business proposal to establish trust and help your potential clients or business partners understand that you're the right person for the job.
According to research published at BigCommerce , 72% of customers say that testimonials and reviews make them trust a business more. So, there's no reason not to capitalize on this trend and use it in your own marketing.
If you already have testimonials, go ahead and include them in your next business proposal. Or reach out to past clients and customers and invite them to share their opinion about your business and what it was like working with you.
3. Get Creative With Calls-to-Action
It goes without saying that your business proposal topic should include a call to action at the end. A CTA is the best way to invite potential clients to take the next step towards getting the project started.
Your call to action should stand out from the rest of the proposal. So, consider using colored background or text to make it easier to see. But the color of your call to action isn't the only thing you should get creative with.
The text that you use for the call to action is just as important. For example, instead of using generic language such as Get In Touch, Call Now or Email Today, try to add a dash of personality and creativity. For example, you could use a CTA that reads Let’s Do This or It’s Time to Get Started or Take Action.
Not only are the examples above more powerful because they use action words, but they also give off a sense of urgency that'll make your clients more inclined to act.
4. Be Brief and Concise
When you share project proposal ideas, you need to capture all your key points. But keep in mind, you’re sharing your message with a busy audience. Key stakeholders face many tasks and can dedicate only so much time to your presentation.
That’s why it’s key to be brief and concise when you present your creative proposal. You need to hit on each main element of your idea.
By speaking clearly and concisely, your proposal will impress. Listeners will appreciate your focused delivery and clarity of the message. To help deliver a brief and concise proposal, refer to our helpful tutorial:
5. Introduce Your Team
The best business proposal ideas examples for 2022 include a personal touch. Remember, anything that you propose will be brought to fruition by you and your team.
It's critical to introduce those team members to your audience. Team intros help put faces with names, and convey how you will work together to achieve common goals.
Many premium graphics templates from Envato Elements have team intro pages built. These are the perfect way to introduce each person to key stakeholders.
It's a good idea to feature a professional headshot, along with a name and brief job description. In doing so, as you present, listeners will learn who will bring your proposals to life.
6. Add an Expiration Date to Your Proposal
According to research published at Business2Community , when items are scarce, they're perceived to be more valuable. Apply the same approach to your business proposal. A great way to add genuine scarcity to your business proposal is to make your proposal available only until a certain date.
You can, for example, explain that after a certain date you won’t be able to offer the same pricing, so now is the time to act if they want to lock in the price. Don’t forget to follow up a day or two before the proposal expires to remind them about it. Another benefit of adding an expiration date to your proposal is that you won’t have to wait indefinitely to hear back from the client.
7. Include a Case Study
Another unique business proposal topic idea is to include a case study. Like testimonials, a case study is an excellent way to showcase your expertise and the results you can get for your clients.
A case study will have an even bigger impact if you can find similarities between the past and the potential client. Explain them in a way that helps potential clients understand you're the right person or company for the job. Remember, a case study doesn’t have to be official and use corporate jargon to be effective. You’ll achieve much better results if you personalize the story.
8. Create a Prominent Summary or Project Statement
Here’s a great business proposal idea that's sure to make your proposal stand out from the competition. Consider including a prominent summary or project statement at the beginning of your business proposal . Your summary can be a sentence or two that tells the client the problem you’ll solve. Or use a bullet point summary that outlines the goals of the project.
This is a great way to pique the client’s curiosity and encourage them to read further. A compelling project statement can set the tone for the entire proposal. All you've got to do is explain exactly how you would achieve the result or the goal that you’ve summarized at the beginning. It can also help the client immediately see that you've got a deep understanding of their problem and the knowledge to solve it.
9. Include Add-On Items
Consider including add-on items to each proposal you send out from now on. This helps the clients see all the services you've got to offer, and it can help you increase your profits.
For example, if you’re sending out a web design proposal, you could include an add-on design package for their social media graphics or logo design. If you’re a copywriter sending a proposal for a sales page copy, include an add-on service for writing their monthly email campaigns or sales sequence.
By including add-on services in your proposal, you give the client a chance to take their project to the next level. Plus, you make more money without having to bring on more clients.
10. Make the Decision a No-Brainer
Make sure your business proposal makes the decision to hire you an easy one. For starters, cut the number of options and packages you offer in your proposal. Presenting your client with more than three options can lead to decision paralysis.
Another way to make the decision a no-brainer is to create a comparison checklist between you and your biggest competitor.
It’s also a good idea to clearly outline the next steps the client should take to get the project started at the end of the proposal.
11. Use Legible Fonts
When it comes to the design of your business proposal, use legible fonts. Refrain from using dark text on a dark background or light text on a light background.
Stick to sans-serif or serif fonts for the text and refrain from using decorative or script fonts. While they do look nice, they're quite hard to read and will make you look amateurish.
Make sure your font size is adequate as well. If you use small font sizes, you risk your proposal being quite hard to read.
12. Include Visuals
A few visual elements here and there can make your proposal more appealing. They'll break up long paragraphs of text to make your creative proposal easier to read. There are several ways to include visuals in your proposals.
The easiest and the most obvious way to include visuals is to use images in your proposal. Include photos of yourself and your team members. You can also include photos of past clients, especially if you decide to include testimonials or case studies in your proposal.
Another way to use visuals is to add charts or graphs to visually represent important data. This can include projected revenue, costs, time estimates or other statistics.
The third way to include visuals in your business proposals is to add icons. Use icons to make various sections or headings stand out more.
13. Format Your Text
Your business proposal will consist of several different sections. So, use text formatting to make it more visually appealing. Use headings to signify the beginning of the next section and make the text larger than your usual paragraph size. You can also use bold text for the headings to make sections easier to spot.
Consider using italics for testimonials or other text that needs emphasis. Of course, don’t forget bullet points or numbered lists to break up your text and make it easier to read.
14. Personalize the Covers
A great business proposal idea example is to personalize the cover page for each client. You should include the client’s name on the proposal's cover, but don’t let that be the only personalization you do.
Consider getting creative and using images that represent the project or your client. For example, if you’re writing a marketing proposal for a restaurant, consider adding a photo of a delicious meal as the background photo. Using a cover page that's tailored to each client makes them feel more appreciated and more inclined to check out the rest of the proposal.
15. Create Handout Notes to Share
No matter how solid your project proposal ideas are, you need to create a lasting impression. In time, details that you share might be overlooked or forgotten.
Similarly, you want your audience engaged as you share your creative proposal. If they feel obligated to take copious notes, they might miss out on your important points.
A great way to manage this is to create shareable handout notes. These let you print and hand out copies of your slides. Plus, you can fill in supporting details and leave room for handwritten notes. It’s a subtle, useful way to ensure that your product proposal ideas are remembered. This will last long after you’ve finished speaking.
Creating PowerPoint handout notes is easy, and you can do it with any set of slide templates. Learn how with our handy full tutorial:
16. Use and Customize a Template to Save Time
The last tip is to use a ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent"> business proposal template and customize it with your brand colors, fonts, and other assets. Premade business proposal templates can save time when you need to send out a business proposal.
Business proposal templates have been designed with all the necessary pages and elements already in place. All you've got to do is replace the dummy information with your own.
Learn more about customizing business proposal templates here:
17. Show How You Differ From Competitors
Chances are, you won’t be the only business offering project proposal ideas. That means you need to clearly communicate a value offering. Not only that, you need to identify how you differ from others. That’s a key driving factor as your proposal is considered.
A good way to do this is to use metrics. Metrics essentially are measurements of success: how you quantify results. Comparing your metrics to those of competing proposals goes a long way in helping close the sale.
Remember, the competitive landscape is ever more crowded. Making a proposal alone won't work. You need to ensure your proposal is recognized as the best proposal. Find some unique templates to help you create the best proposal in this article:
18. Use a Minimalist Design
Minimalism is a popular design philosophy, and for good reason. It offers two key benefits:
- It offers a modern style.
- It's easy to read.
Both are essential in helping you deliver marketing proposal ideas. Discerning readers will appreciate your embrace of the latest design trends. It shows you stay current and focus on the future.
Readability is even more important. Your project proposal ideas may take up several pages. The last thing you want is to build a cluttered, confusing, and messy document. That ensures your business proposal topics and ideas will be lost. Minimalism is your ticket to stylish success .
19. Focus on Collaboration
Many marketing proposal ideas may span over months, or even years. In today’s global, connected world, collaboration is more important than ever. Establishing regular communication forms the foundation of successful business proposals.
You need to ensure the client knows how to reach out throughout the life of a project. With a collaborative focus, you can also set ground rules. This can include proposals for touch-base meetings, status reports, and more. Communication is really about outlining the boundaries of the proposed project itself!
Consider adding a page (or two) in your project proposal ideas to cover collaboration. This might include setting meeting schedules. Or it may propose the use of online file-sharing and collaboration tools.
The idea of collaboration lies at the heart of any proposal. Plan to talk early and often. It's key to success.
20. Know Your Client's Style
Winning sales and clients requires knowing how to present your project proposal ideas. That means communicating in a way prospects will appreciate. This requires some work in advance, but ultimately pays off down the road.
Learn more about the various types of business proposals in this article:
You may be presenting your proposal to strategic leaders who look at the big picture. Or you might be sharing with experts who expect minute detail and exacting analysis. Either way, knowing your client’s preferred style goes a long way in closing deals.
21. Lay Out a Roadmap with Measurable Goals (Progress Tracking)
Business proposal topics set clients on a journey to success. Regular monitoring helps ensure that the journey is successful. It’s helpful to outline a project roadmap as part of your project proposal ideas.
A roadmap establishes key milestones. These may be profit targets to meet, sales volumes to reach, or countless other factors. Having these “ground rules” right from the start allows clients to gauge your success at a glance.
This is a great example of using data visuals. Flowcharts and timelines are useful tools to build this roadmap. It's all about adding simplicity, and infographics like those are a big help.
22. Clearly Define Pricing
Marketing proposal ideas come at a price. Clients know that, and it pays to be straightforward. Having a pricing table inside your proposal helps weigh your value versus cost.
One option for some businesses is tiered pricing. You may offer many levels of service based upon the price point. In a business proposal, this offers significant advantages.
For example, you might upsell from a lower to a higher price tier by showing the virtues of extra engagement. Or you might convince hesitant clients to give your ideas a try, thanks to a lower introductory price. Either way, including pricing detail helps you be open, honest, and transparent.
Learn more about pricing in this tutorial:
23. Bring Data to Life with Infographics
Product proposal ideas need to be specific, with supporting data to back up your ideas. But if you talk through endless numbers and statistics, you may lose audience attention. Remember, you’re presenting to inspire action. You need everyone to stay on track.
Fortunately, it’s easy to keep data interesting. The trick is to use infographics. These are visuals that combine information and graphics together. They form compelling illustrations that showcase your creative proposal.
Infographics are hallmarks of premium templates from Envato Elements. They take countless forms. Some are classic charts, while others are fully unique data visuals.
But infographics share one thing in common. They bring your data to life in a stylish, easy-to-understand way. They should be an essential part of your business proposal. Infographics help ensure your success.
24. Make a Shareable Document
Getting your project proposal ideas in front of the right audience is a must. You want to be sure people can read and review them from anywhere. That’s why you should always create a shareable document.
Try to stay away from word processor files like .docx or .pages for proposals. Depending on their devices of choice, readers might not be able to open your file! The best bet is to use a format like .pdf, commonly accessible and easy to read on mobile devices.
Using PDF files also offers a second advantage: it locks in your formatting. Different versions of word processing software might rearrange your content. A PDF copy is version-controlled and will look identical on any screen or device.
Here's a tutorial on how to convert PDF documents to Word and Word documents back into PDF files:
25. Leave Time for Questions
When you share your topics for business proposal ideas, you should always be thorough. But odds are, you won’t explain every detail fully every time. And that’s okay! Remember, we’ve already learned to be concise when presenting. The trick for success here is to leave plenty of time for questions.
When you leave time for audience questions, you give them a chance to seek clarity on your proposal. Questions allow stakeholders to dial in on elements of the proposal that matter most to them.
As you structure time for questions, there are two good approaches to take.
- You can reserve questions for the end of your project proposal ideas presentation.
- You can answer questions as you work through each section.
These methods allow for ample time, while avoiding becoming off-track by constant interruptions.
If you’re giving out a written proposal, ensure that you include contact information. This way, readers can seek answers even if you aren’t in the room with them as questions arise. Learn more about how to spark questions with this tutorial:
How to Quickly Customize Adobe InDesign Creative Proposal Templates (In 2022)
We’ve looked at great ways to build stunning product proposal ideas. Now, it’s time to bring these to life. The perfect companion is a premium InDesign creative proposal template from ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Envato Elements .
Premium InDesign templates are sure to make a winning impression. They’re packed with stylish features that you won’t find in free offerings. Plus, they’re amazingly easy to customize. They leave you more time to focus on your message. Experts have already done the complex design work for you.
For this quick tutorial, we’ll use the beautiful ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Proposal template from Envato Elements. It’s a stunning project design that you can work with now. Download it to follow along.
Let's get started:
1. Open the InDesign Template
Once you click Download , you’re ready to start using your new InDesign template. But first, you’ll need to open it in the InDesign app. Begin by browsing to wherever your computer stores downloaded files. You’ll see the compressed folder from Envato Elements.
Extract the contents and open up the folder. Inside, there are usually many files and folders. Premium templates often come with many variants and styles that you can choose from. What you are looking for is a .indd file. Double-click on it and InDesign opens.
Your template now displays in the center of the InDesign window. You’re ready to begin editing.
2. Add Custom Text
Creative proposal layouts in InDesign feature an array of text on each page. This is the core of any proposal - the words you use to explain your proposal and its details.
The words you see in an InDesign template are placeholders. You’ll swap this text for your own words.
To customize text in InDesign, find the Type tool . This sits on the toolbar on the left side of the screen. It’s shaped like a capital T .
Click on the Type tool , and then hover over any text on the template itself. Click once, and the text becomes editable. From here, you can delete the existing words and type in your own. It’s that easy!
Repeat this step throughout your proposal template to customize text in a flash.
Illustrations and photos are a great way to bring your project proposal ideas to life. And with InDesign, adding them is as easy as dragging and dropping. Begin by navigating to an open section of your template where you want to place an image.
Then, browse to an image file stored on your computer. Click on it, and drag it over the InDesign canvas. InDesign will place the photo onto the template.
From here, you can click and pull on the corners to resize the photo. You can also hold down your cursor to drag the image into position.
Need cool images for your project proposal ideas? Turn once again to Envato Elements. Elements features a ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">library of millions of stock photos . And with unlimited downloads, you can try out and use as many as you want.
4. Change Object Colors
Color is a perfect means of making your product proposal ideas unique. Color adds contrast and helps you call out specific parts of your proposal.
It also lets you match your proposal document to your company’s branding. With a premium InDesign template, changing colors is amazingly easy.
To get started, click on the Selection tool . It’s on the main toolbar on the left side of your screen, and it’s the topmost button. With the Selection tool active, move your cursor over any object or shape on the template. Click once, and you’ll see the Properties sidebar launch on the right side.
Midway down, in the Appearance group, notice the Fill window. Click on Fill , and you’ll see a color chooser menu appear.
You can choose from preset palettes or make your own using the CMYK sliders. As you choose new colors, they automatically apply to the selected shape. As you can see, it’s easy to customize colors with Adobe InDesign.
5. Export Your Proposal to Share
Once you’ve built out your topics for business proposal ideas, you’ll need to create a shareable document. Keep in mind, InDesign is a creative studio for building graphic designs. It’s not the best option for sharing them with others.
You want an easy-to-read layout that can be widely shared. It’s best to save your InDesign work as a PDF file. PDF files are viewable on virtually any device.
To save your InDesign file as a PDF, go to the File menu, and choose Export . Name your creative proposal by typing in the box. Then, under the Format drop-down menu, select Adobe PDF (Print). Finally, click Save in the lower right corner.
That’s all it takes! In five quick steps, you’ve crafted a compelling creative proposal using Adobe InDesign. It’s now ready to share with the world.
5 Creative Business Proposal Template Design Ideas for 2022
Now that we’ve shared these business proposal ideas with you, it’s time to put them to use. If you’re wondering how to do that and make sure your proposal has an attractive design, we’ve got a few ideas for you.
Explore some of the ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">best business proposal templates from Envato Elements. Premium proposal templates already have all the pages you’ll need for your proposal in place. Plus, they offer plenty of customization options. Use these designs as an inspiration while you’re working on your proposal:
1. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Pro Business Proposal
Check out this Pro Business Proposal template if you’re looking for a template with a professional and polished design. Edit the template with Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop. It includes image placeholders and premade character and paragraph styles for easy customization.
2. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">DIGIBOX Business Proposal Template
The DIGIBOX template has a minimal and clean design. Use it for any type of business proposal topic. It's easy to edit thanks to paragraph styles. The template comes with 24 premade pages and can be edited with InDesign.
3. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Jacob - Business Proposal Template
Try the Jacob business proposal template if you’re looking for a modern and sleek template. It comes with 25 premade pages in A4 and US letter size. Edit it using Illustrator or InDesign. The template also includes predefined character styles and master pages.
4. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Company Business Proposal Template
This company business proposal template has a modern sales proposal design. Edit it with InDesign. It comes with premade character styles for easier editing. You’ll find templates for both A4 and US letter paper size along with 20 premade pages.
5. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Buzzer Clean Business Proposal Template
The Buzzer proposal template has 52 pages in total. That's more than enough to provide all the details about the project, cost estimations, and other important information. Edit the template using InDesign. It includes A4 and US letter paper size.
5 Creative Business & Project Proposal Design Trends for 2022
As you’re designing your business or project proposal, here are a few design trends to help your proposal look modern and relevant:
1. Add Geometric Overlays or Crops to Images
Make your proposal more interesting by adding geometric overlays to your images. Experiment by staying away from the traditional square or rectangle image crop. Try circles, triangles or other geometric shapes.
2. Include Visual Aids
Your proposal should include visual aids such as charts, graphs, and diagrams. Consider anything that'll make it easier for potential clients to picture the data you’re presenting.
3. Color or Pattern Overlays
Another emerging trend when it comes to proposal and graphic design is to use color or pattern overlays. They work well with black and white images so that your sales proposal design doesn’t look too busy.
4. White Space Still Matters
White space is still important. It'll add breathing room to various elements and pages in your proposal.
5. Use Bold Typography
Typography is getting bolder and more decorative. Using flourishes and illustrative fonts in your proposal isn't recommended. Instead, consider using a bold font weight for your headings to make them stand out more.
More Business Proposal Template Resources
If you’re looking for more business proposal design inspiration, we've got plenty of resources to help you out. Check out the following business proposal template roundups below:
Common Business Proposal Questions Answered (FAQ)
You've seen tips and tricks that are sure to spark project proposal ideas. Marry your business proposal topics with our tips so far to create a great proposal.
It's okay if you still have questions. We've rounded up five of the most common. Let's look at them and learn more about leveraging marketing proposal ideas:
1. How Does a Business Plan Differ From a Proposal?
You've likely heard of business plans, documents that help to capture the essence of strategy for a new business idea.
While a proposal is usually for a specific project or type of work, sometimes you're really pitching an entirely new business. In those cases, it's better to craft a deck that functions as a business plan instead.
Make sure that your proposal shouldn't be positioned as a business plan instead. See designs for a business plan in our guide below:
2. How Should You Follow up after Giving a Proposal?
Proposals put your best foot forward and help you win business. And in the world of business, building a relationship and gravitas is crucial.
After you give a proposal, make sure to send a "thank you" as a follow-up. It shows that you value your potential client's time, and that's sure to help.
A business proposal isn't exactly an interview, but Cha Mendoza's guide has a lot of advice for sending a thank you email.
3. What Other Apps Are Used to Create Proposals?
You've already seen examples and information about using PowerPoint to create decks. That helps you put your project proposal ideas in an attractive format.
Another great app to use is Apple Keynote. If you live in the macOS and iOS world, this is the app for you. See examples of great presentation designs to put your business proposal topics into in our article below:
4. How Do You Deliver a Great Proposal In Person?
Most people are terrified of speaking publicly. It's a skill that you've got to build if you want your marketing proposal ideas to shine.
Presentation skills are something you can improve in time. It just takes practice. Luckily, we've got a guide that's just for you. See our tips that help you improve your speaking skills:
5. Help! How Do I Think of Creative Ideas?
Are you preparing your presentation at the last moment? Maybe it's feeling a bit drab and uninspiring.
With the help of our tutorial, you too can spark your creative thinking. Use this tutorial for inspiration that'll help you create marketing proposal ideas of your own.
Learn More About Creating Great Business Proposals
Creating a great business proposal is a lot of work. You've got to do it right if you want to ensure you close the deal. Luckily, we've got plenty of tutorials to help you learn more about creating business proposals:
Create a Standout Business Proposal & Win More Clients
A great business proposal can make all the difference between successfully closing a deal or losing a client. With the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way towards crafting better business proposals. Thanks to marketplaces like Envato Elements, you don’t have to start from scratch.
Use the business proposal ideas in this article to create better ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">business proposals . S top by Envato Elements to find a creative proposal template for your business.
Editors Note: This tutorial was originally published in February of 2019. It's been updated to include new information—with special help from Brenda Barron and Andrew Childress .
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How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates)
By Aditya Sheth , Nov 21, 2022
The great Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” If a business doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make money and by extension the business fails. That’s why you need to write business proposals.
A well-written business proposal can often mean the difference between winning or losing a prospective client.
In this in-depth guide to creating business proposals, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals — all by using easy-to-edit professional business proposal templates.
Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):
What is a business proposal, what should you include in a business proposal, business proposal format, what are the types of business proposals.
- How do you write a business proposal? Business proposal templates
More business proposal examples + writing and design tips
- FAQs about business proposals
Looking for a shortcut? Watch this quick video for an overview of everything to include in your business proposal:
An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.
A business proposal outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client. It can be general like this business proposal example:
Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:
Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:
To design a business proposal that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points . Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.
Return to Table of Contents
A business proposal usually aims to answer the following questions:
- Who you are and what your company does
- The problem your buyer is facing
- The solution your company offers to alleviate the problem
- How your company will implement this solution effectively
- An estimate of resources (time, money, etc) required to implement the solution
You can see how this sample business proposal template covers the above points.
Notice how this proposal template addresses the same project like in one of the previous templates, but uses a completely different design style (more retro, while the previous business proposal template is more modern and minimalistic).
You can remove or add more sections depending on the goal of your business proposal. Essential, your business proposal can follow this format:
Table of contents
Executive summary, the problem statement, the proposed solution, qualifications, the timeline, pricing, billing and legal, terms and conditions, the acceptance.
We go into detail on how you can write a business proposal (plus different business proposal templates you can apply the tips to) in the next section . But you can also click on the format items above to learn how you can best write them!
If you aim to create a holistic business proposal, feel free to just edit from the two templates right above. You can also add your brand colors and logo to your design, using My Brand Kit :
Here’s another example of a business proposal template that you can edit:
Generally, there are three types of business proposals:
1. Formally solicited
A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal.
In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer. You simply need to write the business proposal for your buyer to evaluate so you can begin the sales process.
2. Informally solicited
Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn’t an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and asks for a proposal so they can evaluate it.
An informally solicited proposal requires a lot more research from your end. These types of proposals are usually created out of informal conversations. They are not based on official requests which often contain more detail.
Think of this as a marketing brochure or a cold email . Unsolicited business proposals will often take a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to business proposals. Unsolicited proposals lack any understanding of the buyer or their requirements.
But with additional market research , personalization and identifying customer pain points , you can propose a customized solution based on your buyer’s needs. This can be a very persuasive approach, such as in this business proposal example:
How do you write a business proposal? Business proposal templates
Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to know what it comprises. At a high level your effective business proposal should include the following:
Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.
Business proposal title
A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring it in favor of a competitor’s.
What makes a good title page? Here are the essential elements to include:
- Your name along with your company’s name
- The name of the prospect (or their business)
- The date you’re submitting the proposal
The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know. The title also offers a strong tangible benefit to the prospective buyer. Honestly, “Who doesn’t want to grow their business?”
Return to business proposal content sections
The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes your proposal scannable and easy to read.
The people you will be pitching to are usually C-level executives. These are busy people who don’t have time to read your entire proposal in one go.
That’s why most of the business proposal examples in this list include a table of contents.
Adding a table of contents to your document makes it easy for them to go through it at their own pace. They can also skim through parts of the proposal that they deem more important. You can see how this abstract business proposal template uses the table of contents:
You can also make your business proposal template easier to navigate by adding hyperlinks to the document, particularly in the table of contents. This way your clients can jump to specific sections without having to scroll through the entire document.
It’s easy to add hyperlinks in the Venngage editor. Select the text you’d like to turn into a link, then click the link icon in the top bar. From there, select the page you want to link to! Then download your completed design as an Interactive PDF .
The executive summary is a staple in all kinds of annual reports , project plans and even marketing plans . It is a concise summary of the entire contents of your document. In other words, write a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over and that highlights your value proposition.
The goals of your executive summary are:
- Introduce your company to your buyer
- Provide an overview of your company goals
- Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
- Include any other relevant details
This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with:
Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go. This sets the right tone for the rest of your proposal. It also gives your buyer a reason to continue reading your proposal.
Pro Tip: Try to write an executive summary such that, even if your prospective client doesn’t read the entire proposal (with a good executive summary, they most likely will), they should have a clear idea about what your company does and how you can help them.
The point of writing a business proposal is to solve a buyer’s problem. Your goal is to outline the problem statement as clearly as possible. This develops a sense of urgency in your prospect. They will want to find a solution to the problem. And you have that solution.
A well-defined problem statement does two things:
- It shows the prospect you have done your homework instead of sending a generic pitch
- It creates an opportunity for you to point out a problem your prospect might not be aware they had in the first place.
This bold business proposal template above clearly outlines the problem at hand and also offers a ray of hope i.e. how you can solve your prospect’s problem. This brings me to…
The good stuff. In the proposed solution section, you show how you can alleviate your prospective buyer’s pain points. This can fit onto the problem statement section but if you have a comprehensive solution or prefer to elaborate on the details, a separate section is a good idea.
Spare no details regarding the solution you will provide. When you write a business proposal, explain how you plan to deliver the solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and other relevant details.
For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics :
At this point, the prospect you’re pitching your solution to likes what they’re reading. But they may not trust you to deliver on your promises. Why is this?
It’s because they don’t know you. Your job is to convince them that you can fix their problem. This section is important because it acts as social proof. You can highlight what your company does best and how qualified your team is when you write a business proposal for a potential client.
This free business proposal template showcases the company’s accolades, client testimonials, relevant case studies, and industry awards. You can also include other forms of social proof to establish yourself as a credible business. This makes it that much more likely that they will say yes!
Pro Tip: Attaching in-depth case studies of your work is a great way to build trust with a potential client by showcasing how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients in the past. Our case study examples post can show you how to do just that.
To further demonstrate just how prepared you are, it’s important to outline the next steps you will take should your buyer decide to work with you.
Provide a timeline of how and when you will complete all your deliverables. You can do this by designing a flow chart . Or add a roadmap with deadlines. Pitching a long-term project? A timeline infographic would be a better fit.
If you look at this abstract business proposal template below, even something as simple as a table can do the trick.
The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your potential client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.
On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal.
The key to good pricing is to provide your buyer with options. A pricing comparison table can help with this. You want to give your client some room to work with. Make sure you’re not scaring off your client with a high price, nor undervaluing yourself.
Breaking up your pricing in stages is another great way to make sure your potential client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:
The legal aspects can slot right into the terms and conditions section. Alternatively, you can add them in the signature section of the proposal to keep things simple.
Summarize everything you have promised to deliver so far. Include what you expect from your prospective buyer in return. Add the overall project timeline from start to end, as well as payment methods and payment schedule. This way, both of you will be clear on what is being agreed on.
This step is very important as it outlines all the legal aspects of the deal. That is why the terms and conditions section of your proposal needs to be as clear as possible.
I recommend consulting a lawyer or your legal team when working on this section of the business proposal. If you’re a business veteran and understand the legalities of your business, you can use the same terms and conditions across all your proposals.
The final step of this whole process. Your client has read your business proposal and they want to buy what you have to offer.
Add a small section at the end of your proposal to get the necessary signatures. This way, you and your client can sign the proposal and the partnership becomes official.
Be sure to also include your contact information in your business proposal template. It acts as a gentle prompt to your client to contact you in case they have any questions.
Now that you know how to write a business proposal, let’s look at how you can optimize your proposal to deliver results!
Below you’ll find some winning business proposal templates and examples to get you started. I’ve also included some design tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your next business proposal:
1. Know your audience
If you have some clarity on who your ideal buyer is — their pain points, their budget, deadlines, among other things — you’ve already won half the battle.
If you are a business that helps clients with everything from running giveaways or helping grow their blog , identify which customers to pitch. This is a sure-shot way to close the deal.
Mapping user personas for your ideal buyer can help bring some clarity. It will also help you position your business proposal correctly. This improves the chance of your buyer moving your business proposal to the “Yes!” pile.
2. Put your brand front and center
If your company follows certain brand guidelines, incorporate them in your business proposal templates. Consider how business proposal examples like the one below highlight brand identity:
From the color palettes to the company logos , everything follows their brand guidelines. The result: a business proposal that’s consistent across the board.
Pro Tip: Switching this template to match your brand assets is actually pretty easy. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature allows you to import your color palettes, logos as well as font choices. Any Venngage template can now be your template.
You can also consider this sample business proposal template:
Design companies sure do know their design. They did a phenomenal job keeping their brand colors consistent while opting for a black design. This unique color scheme also makes their white logo prominent throughout the proposal.
3. Try less text, more visuals
Have you ever read a proposal and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is all text and has no images, I love it!”? Yeah, me neither.
The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the “less is more” principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that’s much more scannable.
Want to keep things strictly professional? Instead of icons, you can always add your team’s headshots. This shows your buyer exactly who they’ll be working with.
Check out this formal business proposal format for some inspiration:
4. Switch up your business proposal designs
It doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond once in a while. Jazz up your business proposal template with some extra colors. This helps make your business proposal more engaging. It also helps your buyers retain information faster.
The business proposal example alternates between black, white and grey backgrounds. It still manages to maintain consistency in its branding . Just switching up your backgrounds once in a while can also bring in some variety to an otherwise standard business proposal.
This SEO business proposal sample proves that it’s possible to switch up the colors in every other page. But it still maintains the same color scheme across the entire proposal just like a professionally designed website :
Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.
FAQ about business proposals
What is the purpose of a business proposal.
Essentially, a business proposal aims to streamline the B2B sales process (which is often complex) between you as a seller and a buyer.
It does this by serving the dual purpose of acting as a source of information. The proposal also acts as a sales pitch aimed at convincing your buyer why they should buy what you have to offer.
What are the best practices for business proposal design?
- Do a thorough spell-check. The goal of your business proposal is to convince your buyer why you’re the perfect person for the job. A proposal with typos or grammatical errors communicates the opposite. A thorough spell-check before you send your proposal is a must.
- Let your brand shine. As discussed before, writing a business proposal is all about knowing your ideal buyer and focusing on their pain points. But that doesn’t mean your business proposal template has to be boring. Demonstrate how different you are compared to other companies. You can do this through your brand guidelines, by using more visuals, switching up your proposal design or showing off your personality in your writing.
- Download your business proposal as a PDF. This allows you to attach other collaterals with your business proposal. These can include a company explainer video or case studies showcasing the work done with past clients. Also, who doesn’t love saving paper?
How long should your business proposal be?
The length depends on the scope of the work as well as the complexity of the project. Here is a one-page business proposal template:
Can your business proposal template really be one page? Yes, as long as you understand who your buyer is and their pain points. You should also have the ability to communicate everything your ideal buyer needs to know about your business in a succinct manner.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous how about just two pages? Often, clients prefer if you go straight to the point and avoid all the fluff.
For example, this green modern marketing proposal template wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks:
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding how many pages you should include in your business proposal template. And at the end of the day, “the only rules are the ones you set for yourself”.
At the end of the day, writing winning business proposals that sell is all about you understanding your buyer, their potential pain points and positioning yourself as someone who can alleviate those pain points.
Now that you know how to write compelling business proposals, what are you waiting for?
Take action and start creating your own business proposals to close more deals and grow your business today!
More business communications templates + writing tips you might be interested in…
31 Consulting Proposal Templates to Close Deals
How to Write a Project Proposal [10+ Templates]
20+ Professional Business Letterhead Templates + Branding Tips
How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]
13 Types of Project Proposals That Get Approved (and How to Write Them)
Project proposals are how you can get management to act on your ideas. They’re the bottom-up version of a project request form .
Writing a project proposal isn’t rocket science, but it is a lot harder if you don’t have something like a template to give you a head start.
Using a template for your proposals gives you a document which you can reference throughout the entire project. It’s a great example of effective business process management – the proposal acts as a banner that your whole team can rally around to ensure you’re all working towards the same goal.
So, in this Process Street post, I’ll go through how to create a project proposal, that gets approved, by going through the following topics:
Free project proposal template
12 more free project proposal templates.
- What makes a good project proposal?
- Key tips for writing effective project proposals
- Writing a lot of project proposals? Check this out!
- More stuff to help you write amazing project proposals
Ready to get started?
If you’re in a hurry, and you need a simple, effective project proposal template you can pick up and use immediately, then we have what you’re looking for right here .
You can also find the same project proposal template embedded just below.
Template: How to write a project proposal
Click here to get this project proposal template!
If you’re in need of a more specific template, we also have a bunch of other project proposal templates below, for pretty much any kind of project proposal use case you could think of. Just click the header to expand it and see the full workflow template.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a formally solicited project proposal
A formally solicited project proposal is made in response to an official request for a proposal. In a way, this is the easiest way to create a proposal for a new project, since the Request For Proposal (RFP) document will usually tell you exactly what the customer or audience wants and sometimes even directions for preparing the proposal.
RFP forms aren’t to be confused with project request forms though – the former is a way to directly react to specific needs and desires, whereas the latter is a way for higher management to request a project of their teams.
Therefore, for formally solicited proposals you should take a more structured approach. You have to respond directly to the contents of whatever rough details have been relayed to you, essentially turning feedback into a quantifiable project which you can then judge the worth of starting.
Your project proposal checklist doesn’t need to be complicated. The template below is an example of how a simple checklist can help you to write your project proposals.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for an informally solicited project proposal
Informally solicited project proposals are the same as formally solicited ones, except the information they are based on isn’t set out in a specific document. This makes them a little harder to deal with (more research is involved in analyzing them) but you at least have a rough starting point.
It’s pretty much just a lack of detail that separates formal from informal – formal proposal requests have set details, goals, deliverables, and potentially even methods, while informal ones could be based on a conversation. If you’ve been asked for a proposal but haven’t been given any specifics, it’s an informally solicited one.
Again, the approach for this isn’t too different from a formally solicited one, but you’ll have to put in some extra legwork in defining details like the objectives and method, and in assessing how viable the whole thing is.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for an unsolicited project proposal
Unsolicited project proposals are the project equivalent of cold calls – nobody asked to receive one, but (if you’ve done your homework) it can still provide a ton of value. These are proposals which are thought of by the person submitting them and can be inspired by anything, from a eureka moment in the employee’s daily work to a casual conversation with a customer.
Arguably these are the hardest proposals to write, as you’ll have to be extra persuasive (nobody asked for the proposal so they’ll need extra nudging). This means gathering more evidence than usual to prove the proposal’s worth and taking extra care when writing to make sure that it’s convincing.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for proposing to continue a project
Continuation project proposals are by far and away the easiest to write, since these are essentially reminders/updates for ongoing (and already approved) projects.
These are almost not even proposals, in the sense that you’re not asking for anything new or pitching your case. Instead, all you have to do is remind the audience of the project they previously approved, report on its progress, account for any changes and ask for permission to continue.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for proposing to renew a project
Once an ongoing project has finished or outlived its usefulness (and support for it is going to be terminated), a renewal project proposal can be written to make the case for its continued support.
Much like continuation proposals, these are less about convincing the audience of the project’s worth by itself and more about showing why it’s valuable to continue doing it. This usually means weighing up the return benefits with the resources it takes to upkeep the practice.
It’s also good to compare the project you’re trying to get renewed support for with other continuing projects – this puts its worth in the context of other ongoing efforts, and can indicate areas better suited to being discontinued.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for making a proposal for supplemental project resources
A supplemental project proposal is required when you need to ask for extra resources for a project (beyond those originally proposed). The main aim when writing these proposals is to be able to justify the extra resources and produce updated estimates of what the project will now take to complete.
If the project’s scope is being increased to have a further reach then this will read as an extension of the original document with a focus on explaining the benefits of expanding the scope.
However, if problems or new information have arisen that mean the original goals require extra resources, you should instead focus on reiterating the benefits that the project will bring, explain why such problems and/or information weren’t seen in advance, and reassure the audience that the operation is still worth the investment.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a business proposal
This business proposal template is basically a sales pitch on paper. Its primary purpose is to persuade a company or organization to do business with you.
It should describe what you can do to solve the problem, how you plan to solve the problem and the finer details about what, when, why and how it will solve the problem.
It should also contain a key call to action that will compel the recipient to take the next step.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a contractor proposal
A contractor proposal is a written outline of the project that’s to be completed by the contractor.
The goal for any contractor proposal is to introduce yourself, highlight your services, describe the costs, and convince the client that you are the right one to trust for the job.
This ‘Contractor Proposal Template’ checklist covers the high-level items that every general contractor proposal should include. Use it alongside the proposal document you plan to submit to make sure you include information such as resources needed, estimated costs, past experience, and payment schedules.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a consulting proposal
A consulting proposal outlines the working relationship between the consultant and the client so that both parties can stay aligned and understand the other’s expectations.
It’s a document sent from a consultant to a prospective client describing a job they wish to take on and the conditions under which they will do so.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a grant proposal
The process of how to write a grant is a long one, and it can seem overwhelming at first.
Final decisions about which proposals are funded often come down to whether the proposal convinces the reviewer that the research project is well planned and feasible and whether the investigators are well qualified to execute it.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a sponsorship proposal
A sponsorship proposal needs to convince a potential investor that it’s in their best interest to invest. Use this checklist to make sure your proposal is persuasive, effective and targeted enough to win the sponsorship money.
⬇️📝 Click here to see our template for a research proposal
Use this checklist, alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit, to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.
If you’re interested in learning how to write the best project proposal possible, read on for some pro tips for writing project proposals that actually get accepted.
🥅 What’s the goal of a project proposal?
The goal of a project proposal is to communicate your project’s core value proposition to an interested party. It should establish the scope of the project, including expected outcomes, and how you plan to execute it. It also serves as a roadmap that defines each step of the project, so that everyone involved is on the same page, working towards the same goals from the start.
One of the most important things about a project proposal, but one that is often forgotten, is that project proposals should serve to convince whoever you’re proposing to that the project is worthwhile. That could be an investor, a C-level executive, or even your teammates (buy-in from your team is always important, after all).
That’s why getting inside the heads of the people you are writing the proposal for is vital; you need to think like the project’s stakeholders to deliver a proposal that meets their needs.
In other words, the goal of a project proposal is to get approved.
🎯 What makes a good project proposal?
The best kind of project proposals, the ones that knock it out of the park and convince everyone on the recieving end of the presentation that this is something worth investing time and money in, are the ones that:
- Understand who they’re speaking to (and leverage that knowledge)
- Understand that people have a very short attention span
- Focus on essential information
- Use simple language, and focus on clearly communicating a message (as opposed to needlessly confusing people with jargon)
- Do adequate preparation & research
- Focus on the outcome, with a clear, straightforward plan for execution
So how do you pack all this into your project proposals? Let’s dive into the process of writing an effective project proposal.
🗝️ Key tips for writing effective project proposals
There are two stages to the creation of an effective project proposal:
Let’s start with planning.
📚 Adequate planning: Understanding your audience & core message
Planning a good project proposal looks something like this:
- Define your audience
- Clearly define the scope of the proposal
- Be clear about predicted outcome of the project
- Assess the time and resources the project will need
- Plot a project roadmap
Don’t worry too much about the language you’re using or being terribly well-formatted here. Instead, focus your attention on getting the base facts right and covering yourself for any questions that might counter your proposal.
If you’re aiming to get your proposal approved you need to convince the person reading it that it’s worth the time and resource investment. To do that, you need to know who your audience is, what they prioritize, and what they’re likely to be resistant to.
So, the first thing you need to do when planning your project proposal is to define your audience.
Lay-out exactly who they are, what their position is (manager, CEO, potential customer, etc), and whatever you know about their background. This will then let you relate every aspect of your proposal back to them to make it as appealing as possible.
You’re also assessing how much detail you need to go into with the various concepts to your proposal. If your audience doesn’t know much about what you’re proposing, you’ll want to take extra care to explain it in language they can understand and therefore see the value in what you’re saying.
Now that you know what your problem is, what’s already been done to solve it, and who you’re writing for, you need to work out and clearly define what your project proposal is. Don’t worry too much about relating it back to your audience just yet – for now, the focus should be on coming up with a solution to the problem.
The key here is to not go overboard with detail. You only need to say what your proposal broadly is and the steps that will be taken to complete it.
Anyone with the power to approve your proposal will likely have one question in their mind after hearing it; “why is this the best solution to the problem?”. If they can’t make the link between your proposal and the problem you’ve highlighted you’ll never get past the pitch.
So, here in your plan, you need to lay-out your predictions for the proposal and how it will benefit your audience. Using what you know of previous experiments, the current state of your main problem, and what your proposal does, lay-out the success metrics for your proposal and attempt to predict the results.
Don’t be afraid to highlight the factors which could negatively affect your proposal either. Knowing these and pointing them out will at least let your audience know the risks involved, and can allow you to alter your proposal before submission to account for weak points.
Progress doesn’t come for free, and now it’s time to look into the time and resources your proposal will take to complete. This will let you know whether the proposal is worth the investment before even submitting it – if you can see that the time and resources far outweigh your predicted outcomes, chances are that it’s worth saving your audience’s time and not pitching it at all.
Being conservative when estimating the time and resources your project will take is a surefire way to fail to meet expectations and deadlines, so you also shouldn’t sugarcoat these elements. It’s better to give yourself room for a little error and be underestimate than to keep everything tight and have to submit a supplemental proposal.
Note down what teams will be working on the project, the specific expertise (and therefore staff members) the various stages will take, how long their tasks should take them, and any resources beyond the base time commitment.
Finally, once you have all the information you need it’s time to plan the outline for your project proposal. Don’t worry about making everything look nice or read perfectly for now – focus on getting the core elements of your proposal on one page, then you can worry about the specific language when you’re actually writing your proposal.
Although the exact layout of your proposal will change based on the format you use and how your team usually submits them, in general make sure you cover:
- An introduction that summarizes the proposal and hooks the audience
- The problem you’re tackling
- The solution you’re proposing
- The method for your solution (step-by-step)
- Why this is the best course of action
- The time and resource commitment (potentially including budget)
- A conclusion which reinforces your proposal
Remember to pose all of the evidence and points you’ve gathered from the perspective of what your audience cares about and in a language they understand. When you’re pitching to a team manager, colleague, or the CEO, they need to be able to see why they should care about the proposal and why it’s the best thing they can do to solve the problem.
✍️ Clear, concise writing: Keep it simple, stupid!
When it comes to writing a proposal , your structure should look something like this:
- The introduction
- The problem
- The solution
- The justification
- The schedule and/or budget
- How the whole thing will be measured/tracked
- The conclusion
I’ll cover each section & give advice while showing & referring to an example project proposal.
Specifically, I’ll be looking at this proposal for an assessment of a nuclear waste storage site.
Having a hook in your introduction is vital for catching the interest of your audience. If they’re not interested in the proposal from the get-go then it’ll be much harder to convince them of the benefits and therefore get their approval, and that’s if they don’t dismiss the whole document after a cursory glance.
If you came across any striking statistics when looking into the problem you’re tackling, use them in your first line. This will help to catch their interest and lead them into the rest of the proposal, especially if you can relate the figures back to something they know and care about.
Above all else, don’t make your introduction more than a couple of sentences (three or four at best). Shorter introductions are not only easier to read, but by limiting the space you have to work with you force yourself to focus on only the most important details.
Follow up your introduction with a summary of the problem that your proposal tackles and what the current state of it is. Use the research from your plan to spend a couple of sentences explaining what it is, what’s being done about it both internally and externally, and why your audience should care about it in the first place.
There’s not much else to say here – you need to clearly define the problem you’re tackling using the research you conducted when planning the proposal. The only thing you need to remember here is to relate it back to your audience using language and concepts they understand and value.
Once they understand the problem they’re facing, it’s time to present your proposed solution. You need to give both a rough summary of the purpose of your solution and the steps it takes to achieve that goal.
Again, don’t get lost in detail here, as that’s a surefire way to make your audience lose interest. Instead, give them the proposed method in a way they will understand and clearly highlight how this will tackle the main problem.
Although the value of your solution should be clear from how you’ve presented both it and the problem it tackles, it’s worth re-iterating why your method is the best course of action. While this can be done in the previous section of the proposal, dedicating a short segment will let your audience easily scan the document to see the value immediately.
If all’s gone to plan then your audience should be on board – now it’s time to give them all of the information they need to know what the project will cost and how long it will take to complete. Break down the proposed solution into specific steps with a rough time estimate for each, and give a budget that accounts for any extra items, staff, technology, and so on.
This will let your audience visualize the timeline and cost of your project as opposed to the benefits that it brings. As such, they need to have enough detail to be able to judge the worth of the proposal, such as the time investment of various team members and departments alongside any funds for items beyond your current inventory.
It might seem like overkill to lay-out the teams involved and how much time they will be spending on the various stages, but remember that your proposal probably isn’t the only thing that they could be doing. You’re not only asking for those teams to spend time completing your tasks, but you’re also justifying why they should not be spending that time on another project.
Without a structured way to monitor your proposal in action and to track its progress, neither you or your audience will know whether it’s working or not, and nobody will be able to address any problems as they surface. This is a massive red flag to anyone with the power to approve your proposal because it leaves everyone in the dark until the very end of the project.
You need to show (again, using language and concepts that your audience understands) how the project will be monitored as it progresses, and therefore how you will be able to detect problems at the earliest possible opportunity. This will also reassure your audience that they will be receiving regular updates on the project and that the tasks you’ve laid out will be carried out correctly (since they are being monitored).
Finally, you need to write a brief conclusion to wrap up your points, remind the audience why they should approve the proposal, and reassure them that you have thoroughly researched the topic to give the greatest chance of success.
You shouldn’t be introducing any new information here – all you have to do is write a few sentences reminding them why the problem is important, and why your proposal is the best solution for the resources it requires.
🤖 Writing a lot of project proposals? Check this out!
If you’re finding yourself writing a lot of project proposals, it might be time to consider building a process for writing them to make your life easier.
In fact, if you’re writing a lot of project proposals, you already have a process (even if you don’t know it yet). And you can always improve your processes & workflows to do smarter & better work.
That’s what we’re all about at Process Street: Helping you build powerful workflows that automate repetitive tasks and manage team knowledge, so that you can focus on the work that matters (and empower your whole team to do the same).
Check out this video to find out more about who we are and what we do:
With our advanced features, you can customize your project proposal templates so it fits your organization, the type of proposal you’re writing and your way of working like a glove:
- Stop tasks (to make sure the process is followed in the correct order & crucial project information isn’t missed)
- Dynamic due dates (to ensure proposals are finished on time)
- Task permissions (to make sure only you and whoever you grant access to can work on the proposal)
- Conditional logic (for guiding you through writing different kinds of proposal from the same template, based on what you need)
- Approval tasks (so you can get the project proposal approved by management, or approve a proposal that has been drafted by someone on your team)
Not only that, but you can connect to thousands of apps through Zapier , webhooks, or API integration to automate your workflows and save time, effort and money.
You can use Process Street to create a process for all sorts of things, not just writing project proposals . From creating client onboarding processes and to-do list templates to managing your quality management software or standard operating procedure templates .
The list is endless.
✨ More stuff to help you write amazing project proposals
To give you even more help and guidance, check out these alternative proposal templates that you can use when writing your project proposal:
- Bid Proposal Template Checklist
- Budget Proposal Template
- Construction Proposal Template Checklist
- Consulting Proposal Template Checklist
- Contractor Proposal Template Checklist
- Event Proposal Template Checklist
- Marketing Proposal Template Checklist
- Simple Proposal Format Checklist
- Sponsorship Proposal Template Checklist
- Website Proposal Template Checklist
Let us know how you organize your project proposals in the comments below!
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Ben Mulholland is an Editor at Process Street , and winds down with a casual article or two on Mulholland Writing . Find him on Twitter here .
Thank you! This is gold! I was looking for a resource like this for years! You rock!
Project proposal form
It was sufficient.
This is awesome can waiting for a long time. Thanks
Thanks ! This is what I was looking for
great stuff ! thank you Ben.
Excellent and timely…thanks
This is great and coherent staff
This is awesome? Thanks Ben
Thanks alot Ben, that’s awesome and appealing…
I really appreciate this piece of work. So reliable.
Thank you so much for this article. Your practical examples make everything clear and simpler. Thank you again!
Thank you for your help and this was very informative
this page is nice
thanks Ben its something I have been searching for
Thanks for this wonderful work. It is so important to me and my career. I wish every documents will be sent to my box.
great for this,gods blessings
you’ve given me a very good kick start thank you
Thank Ben your project proposal format is awesome; can you give me one example of petroleum proposal writing.
The best coverage. This is what i was looking for. Thank you very much.
I found six proposal are helpful and acknowledge the different types of proposal writings. please submit samples for following: continouty and formative proposal plans
Thanks so much for these detailed information, they are very much useful to me. Thank you once more.
very helpful…thank you
This was great to read…
thanks four your programme,it is so important to me as a project officer.i really learn a lot.
great,i really learned a lot from your program me.
regards lupai samuel taban.
In the process of trying to raise funding for an innovation and production company.
This is great, very helpful. thank you
wowww: thanks soo much
I am John Kall Chacha from Tanzania, East Africa. i am thanking you so much to get this document. But not enough, i am still in need of a sample for the written project proposal for community development, farming and environmental protection (tree planting). we have been trying to look for financial resource to accomplish our projects targeting to alleviate poverty and overcome food insufficiency caused by drought but in vain. This may be lack of proposal writing skill. So please assist.
Thanks for this excellent information
Thank you very much for this… it’s an awesome resource. Highly appreciated, keep the good work.
Very great, a gold set up and l love it. Is there any for to apply for construction company set up?
Hey Ivan, I recommend checking out this article which has a selection of construction-related processes: https://www.process.st/construction-templates/
I hope this is helpful! Adam
Very clear and smooth ideas aabout the types of proposal for the learners. Thanks a lot.
Glad you found it helpful, Bikash.
Thanks Been in search of this and coming across this put me on the right path to getting my proposal done.
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A Practical Wedding: Wedding Planning, Inspiration, and Ideas
Wedding Planning. Minus the insanity, plus the marriage.
- Engagements & Proposals
50 Ways to Pop the Question
Because anyone can ask
The answer is yes and yes.
Proposing can be a big, outlandish, emotional experience played out in front of a crowd of thousands at a Red Sox game. Proposing can also be a small, intimate, emotional experience played out in your living room in front of your pets. The point is for two people to make a promise to one another. So whether you got engaged on a gondola in Venice or the produce aisle of a grocery store, a proposal is always just about two people. The mechanics of a proposal are deceptively simple. One partner asks another partner a question. The second partner answers. Ta-da! You have proposed! And if feminism is your jam, neither partner is surprised by, “Hey I want to marry you.” So the where and when and how are just window dressing.
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But oh the window dressing! If you’re currently in the market for proposal ideas, what do you choose? There are simple proposal ideas, elaborate proposal ideas, viral proposal ideas, and surprise proposal ideas. But which one to do? Like any part of wedding planning (which is coming for you soon…) the best option is always you do you! But if you don’t know who “proposal you” is? Well, we asked wedding designer Jess Rutherford of Sentimental Fools for her top proposal ideas, both the intimate and the outlandish. Here, she’s given us ideas for every type of proposal possible. If you are big and elaborate people, we got you. If you are pajamas and brunch people, just keep reading. There’s something here for everyone.
Photo by Vivian Chen
LOVE IS AN ADVENTURE
- Galactic Lovers: Plan a stargazing picnic and ask under the constellations.
- Sunshine of My Life: Sunrise and sunset make for stunning colors in the sky and the perfect backdrop for a proposal. Find a magical spot to enjoy the view!
- Disney Magic: Make your love story into a real-life fairy tale and propose in a Disney Park. (Pro-tip: You don’t have to go for Cinderella’s castle. There are plenty of picturesque spots around the park.)
- Written in the Snow: Write your proposal in the snow and ask from a ski lift, or the warm interior of the ski lodge.
- Handwriting in the Sand: Write your proposal in the sand on a sunny beach. Pop the question before the waves wash it away.
- Room with a View: Stop to catch your breath at the top of a peak. Get down on one knee and ask them to turn around.
- Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words: Decorate a room with TONS of photos of the two of you over the years. Make another moment worth capturing.
- #TBT: Revisit your relationship’s greatest hits—or just the site of your first date. Propose in the place where it all began.
- Rollercoaster of Love: Propose at the top or during the photo on the ride. (We recommend keeping that ring locked up or in a secure location during the actual ride.)
- Ferris Wheel: Take in the views below as you propose from the very top of the Ferris Wheel. Have your family and friends waiting at the bottom!
Photo by JD Mason via Unsplash
SEASONS OF LOVE Proposal Ideas
- New Year, New Beginning: 3… 2… 1… Will you marry me?
- Be Mine: Why not fill a room with heart shaped balloons, roses, and boxes of chocolates, and embrace the sentimentality of Valentine’s Day.
- Let Sparks Fly: Attend a summer fireworks display. Propose under the canopy of lights or with a simple handle-held sparkler.
- Jack-o-Lantern Love: Carve “Marry me?” into a pumpkin.
- Fall for Me: Go apple picking, pumpkin picking, or searching for fall foliage. Propose in the center of a corn maze.
- Deck the Halls: Have your sweetheart wake up to ornaments spelling “Will you marry me?” on a Christmas tree on Christmas morning OR while looking for the perfect tree. Bring a furry friend in on it with a present tied to their collar. (Also can be modified for Hanukkah, or your seasonal holiday of choice.)
Fun and GAMES Proposal Ideas
- Play to Win (Their Heart): Catan, CandyLand, or Charades. Find a way to make sure a proposal is in the cards.
- Carnival Night: Make the ring the prize for winning the carnival game of your choice.
- Lucky in Love: Take them to a casino (wear a mask as needed). Play the slots. No matter what, you are both about to win the jackpot.
- Love Hunt: Hide clues around town that lead them from one clue to the next (bonus points if you combine this with #7). The final clue leads to you and a big question!
- Coordinated Love: Make your proposal spot your next geocaching destination.
- Love and Basketball: Play a game of one-on-one on a court near your home. Make a new spin on H-O-R-S-E and play M-A-R-R-Y-M-E, putting your opponent’s spelling skills to the test.
- Take Me out to the Ballgame: Go classic Jumbotron or take the Kiss Cam to the next level. For a nostalgic approach, hide the ring in a Cracker Jack box.
Photo by Kelly Benvenuto Photography
Sweet and Simple Proposal Ideas
- The OG: The classics never fail. Get down on one knee and ask away.
- I Woke Up Like This: Slip the ring on their finger before they wake up and see how long it takes them to notice. Or how many cups of coffee.
- Light up My Life: Fill the room with candles—the perfect lighting for love. Add some houseplants for an even more elevated look.
- Sentimental Spots: Head to “your” spot to make yet another memory somewhere close to your heart.
- Fortune Cookie: Have your own custom-made with a special question inside. Have them open yours the next time you order takeout.
- Creative Writing: Write your partner a poem or story titled The Story of Us . Make your proposal the final line.
- Time Machine: Recreate your first date, but this time with a new ending.
- A Toast: Slip the surprise into a flute of bubbles. Make sure they see the ring before bottoms up.
Photo by Studio A Images
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS (and FAMILY) Proposal Ideas
- Puppy Love: Tie the ring or (perhaps more wisely) a “Will you marry me?” sign around your puppy’s—or really just any puppy’s—collar. Proposals + puppies = YES.
- Make the Kid Do It: Have a kid or niece or nephew? Put them in a proposal shirt and have them ask for a hug from your sweetie.
- Surrounded by Family and Friends: Turn a casual family gathering into a moment to remember and an impromptu engagement party. (Pro-tip: Make sure to clue in the host ahead of time!)
- Lettergram: Throughout the day have special people in your life deliver love letters you’ve written. The last letter is a special delivery from you, and it comes with a small ring-size package.
- Next Item on the Agenda: Conspire with their boss and show up to their meeting in the conference room.
- Model for a Day: Have a photog friend ask for a favor to pose for some photos for their portfolio. Ask while the camera is clicking away.
- Surprise!: Throw yourselves an engagement party. Just make sure your new fiance(e) is the last to know.
- Make a Montage: Ask your friends and family to make a video of why they love you two together. Play the video and let your partner soak up all the love before asking the ultimate question.
GO BIG FOR THE BIG QUESTION! Proposal Ideas
- Up!: Take your love to incredible heights and propose in a hot air balloon. (We know you all cried watching the Up! opening montage.)
- Movie Night: Take them to an outdoor screening of their favorite movie, or stage a proposal inspired by the silver screen. For your budget’s sake we hope their favorite flick isn’t Sweet Home Alabama .
- Rock of Love: Get tickets the next time their favorite band is in town. Get the lead singer to ask for you from the stage!
- Work of Art: Ask a local gallery to hang one of your own masterpieces in their gallery. Propose in front of the piece as you walk through the gallery.
- City of Love: Pop the question in Paris. Skip the top of the Eiffel Tower and go for something more off the beaten path. Why not give them a kiss and a ring in front of The Kiss in the Rodin Museum .
- Flash Mob: Get your friends and family involved. Pick your favorite song and dance it out.
- Northern Lights: Travel to the arctic circle to tell them they light up your life under the Aurora Borealis.
- Heli-yes: Take a golden hour helicopter tour of your favorite town and pop the question against the skyline.
- Gondola Goals: Start forever in the canals of Venice in your own private gondola.
- Skywriting: Is there anything more over the top?
- Have a Proposal Off: Both want to get hitched? See who can top who with an all-out battle of the proposals. Everyone wins!
If you can’t choose just one proposal idea, there’s always the more-is-more option—just do all of them! Or as many as you’d like. My partner and I had thirty proposals —not one of them involved a hot air balloon. But that’s a story for another day.
Addie Wright-Thwing is a writer, project manager, stationery snob, and flowchart enthusiast who works as an IT Manager in the education sector. Because variety is the spice of life, she is also a pharmacist, massage therapist, novelist, and expert in starting your career over every few years. Her pastimes include reading cookbooks, bullet journaling, cross-country road trips, and offering advice to anyone in her general vicinity. A self-described bossy pants, there is literally nothing she doesn’t want to be in charge of (look out for her future presidential campaign). She lives in California with her husband and pet robot.
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How to write a business proposal (The modern way)
Nothing speaks to a customer’s direct needs like a well-written business proposal.
But how do you make sure that your proposal is engaging to every potential client?
This year, we analyzed nearly 570,000 proposals sent in 2021 through the PandaDoc platform for insights on what works best and what doesn’t.
Here’s what we learned about writing business proposals.
The basic structure of your business proposal
Building a business proposal is like building a house.
While there are certain elements that are always necessary — like the foundation — a house varies based on location and the architect or homeowner’s preferences.
In the same way, the components of a business proposal can vary based on industry, company size, and many other factors.
Just like writing anything else, a well-written proposal begins by gathering information and assessing the problems that your potential client is trying to solve.
With that in mind, the following items are what readers are looking to glean from your proposal. Think of these as the roof, walls, and foundation of your document:
- Information about your company. Your background, your qualifications, and why you’re a better fit than the rest of your competitors.
- Demonstrated knowledge of the problem. Proof that you’ve listened and done your research. You know what the client needs and you have a viable solution.
- Pricing and methodology. How you plan to solve the client’s problem, information about your proposed solution, and how much it’s going to cost.
In the next section, we’ll take you through how to draft a business proposal using our social media proposal template as an example.
If you’re not a social media company, don’t worry.
While the template we’re using is an example of a simple project proposal, the basic structure applies to nearly every business proposal — no matter how complex they might be.
You can download this proposal example and hundreds of other business proposal templates on our website.
Here are the nine elements of a business proposal , and what to include in each section.
Before you start, a quick note on length
Based on our analysis of proposals on our platform, we found that the average proposal length is about nine pages.
But, as several of our own account executives and sales team members were quick to point out, longer doesn’t always mean better.
“Short and sweet has a high conversion rate,” said Josh Gillespie, from Upmarket Sales . “Fewer pages and less fluff is better. Ideally, a proposal should be fewer than 10 pages for transactional proposals below $10,000, and never more than 50 pages.”
Artyom Voronetskiy, Account Executive with PandaDoc, agrees:
“Keep it short, on-point, and eye-catching. Do not write more than six to ten pages unless your product is extremely complicated.”
While you should make sure to include all relevant information that prospective clients will need in order to make a decision, take care to avoid overcrowding them with irrelevant details.
01. Cover page
This section includes basic information like your company’s name and contact information, your company logo, your client’s name, and contact information, the date, and a title.
A strong title page makes the project proposal look neat, organized, and well put together.
It’s also the very first thing that your prospective client will see when they open your proposal, and everyone knows how important that first impression can be.
Studies have shown that you have as little as 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression when designing visual content like websites.
The same holds true for your cover page.
Unlike the rest of your document, a cover page is a place where you can place graphics and visual content to set the tone before the reader dives into the meat of your proposal.
But don’t go overboard with complicated graphics and logos on this page. According to a study by Google , users love simple and familiar designs , especially at a first glance.
This is also a great way for you to stand out. Based on our data, only about 13% of proposals we see use cover pages . Take advantage of this missed opportunity and use it to stand out from your competitors.
02. Cover letter
You wouldn’t walk up to your potential client and dive into project specifics without introducing yourself, would you?
A cover letter is that introduction.
Include a one-liner about your company, short background information about how your company came to be, and a brief overview of what makes your company better than the rest.
Make it friendly and encourage your reader to reach out with any questions. Close it with a thank you and a signature.
Cover letters don’t have run on to the point of exhaustion. They can be simple, short, and sweet. In this example, the text is just over 100 words, but you could make it even easier to read by using bullet points.
Check this out:
Thank you for considering [Sender.Company] for your social media marketing needs.
Enclosed, you’ll find a proposal based on our understanding of your social media expectations. Briefly, we propose:
- An expanded social media strategy across currently unused platforms and channels
- A comprehensive distribution strategy designed to generate original and unique content
- Improved post automation for increased audience engagement during peak times
Our methods and procedures are based on extensive analysis, an intense study of social media trends, and the application of specifics unique to [Client.Company].
We are confident in delivering effective results within your social media channels.
Thanks again for considering us, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions.
My contact information is below.
Your cover letter can take on many forms, and you can use those formats to make your proposal stand out from the crowd.
In our proposal example, note that we’ve also used an image to keep things fun and interesting.
This is critical throughout your proposal. In our research, we found that a proposal with media like photos and videos included is 34% more likely to close.
As you’re designing your proposal, don’t be afraid to add graphics and images to keep readers engaged. A winning business proposal is more than just black text on a white page.
As you’re designing your proposal, don’t be afraid to add graphics and images to keep readers engaged. A winning proposal is more than just black text on a white page.
03. Table of contents
Unless your proposal is very brief, include a table of contents that outlines the basic structure of your document.
A table of contents is an important, but often overlooked, part of any longer document because it helps the reader know what they can expect to find in the proposal.
Most word processors generate a table of contents automatically using the headings in your document . As you’re writing, take the time to set the formatting for your headings and then simply generate a table of contents from those headings.
A table of contents isn’t always necessary, but it can make any proposal much easier to parse as your document is passed around to all appropriate parties.
Remember: Proposal documents may not be read chronologically. Different decision-makers will care about different things and will check your proposal to see how it addresses their unique pain points.
Don’t lose a deal just because stakeholders couldn’t find what they were looking for!
04. Executive summary
Your executive summary sets the scene for the rest of your proposal by providing a high-level overview that summarizes the contents of future pages.
If you provided a few of these details in your cover letter (like the bullet-point example shown above) this is your opportunity to go into greater detail and summarize your overall strategy.
Using our example, our potential clients are primarily realtors in the greater Chicago area looking to reach new clients through social media marketing, so your executive summary might read like this:
This proposal outlines a coordinated plan crafted with the intent of building John’s Real Estate social media presence, primarily including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, and Twitter.
By engaging an audience through social media channels, our team will demonstrate the ability to generate awareness, widen your company’s potential reach within your target market, and contribute to driving more website traffic, which will ultimately result in top-line growth.
We help realtors identify, target, and communicate with their ideal clients through each of the following:
- Creating Engaging Social Content
- Posting Company-Related Updates
- Promotions & Social Campaigns
- Integrating Social Media Activity into Other Marketing Plans
While our competitors work to serve multiple industries and target audiences , we specialize in the real estate industry. Our co-founder Tom Lancaster also has a background in both social media and real estate , giving him a unique perspective on the needs of the market.
Your own executive summary will shift depending on the duties you’re performing for the client, and what kind of industry they’re in.
Your tone might also change. If you’re targeting a young travel startup run by college graduates, you might use a more casual tone peppered with industry jargon and humor.
Jump Social Media Marketing offers full-service social media services for the real estate industry. Our team ensures area realtors are targeting their core market with an authentic message across the best channels possible.
Jump Social Media Marketing will work to identify, target and market to your ideal customer through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, and Twitter channels. Our team estimates we will grow your social media followers from your combined 214 followers to over 5,000 in the next six months and generate additional leads for your business.
We know that today’s realtors are also tasked with marketing homes and their own real estate firms. With a background in real estate and social media , Jump Social Media understands the unique needs of your industry.
While writing, keep in mind that your executive summary isn’t designed to explain every detail or sell your entire RFP response by itself!
Don’t get lost describing deliverable logistics or strategic plans. Focus on the client’s needs and the outcomes they specifically wanted to address in their request for proposal.
Let your executive summary present a high-level overview and leave the other pages of the document to explain the details. This will prevent your summary from getting overcrowded or bogged down with specifics best handled elsewhere.
05. Proposal and solutions pages
The proposal section is a general overview of the custom-made solution your company has devised for your potential client.
This section gets into the specifics.
Anticipate their questions, and take them through the process so they know what they’re signing up for when they hire you.
As Josh points out, this section of the proposal is critical because it demonstrates the relevance of your product or service to a specific product.
“Quick delivery and relevance to your specific prospect are two of the most important items in any proposal,” he said. “Prospects need to know what you’re selling, how it will help them, and how long it will take them to get it.”
Describe exactly what deliverables they can expect and when they can expect them.
A timetable that pairs deliverables with their expected date can make your document more visually appealing, and your information more digestible.
You might also break down your main objectives even further by describing how you plan to execute a given strategy.
In our example, we touched on six key goals during our executive summary. Let’s expand on those here.
1. Creating engaging social content
Beginning with quick and thorough planning/preparation, our team will plan out a dynamic, ongoing social content calendar to guide you to your goals.
We will grow an increasing social audience and follower base using each of the following techniques:
- Hashtag campaigns
- Strong use of keywords
- Sharing/retweeting relevant news
- “Liking” posts
- Staying updated within the industry
- Contributing our own unique content to broaden reach.
2. Posting company related updates
Our plan is to engage your social media audience by sharing company news, press releases, events, employee spotlights, and more.
We will also pay attention to industry trends, and share them. This will help to gain exposure to your target market.
3. Promotions and social campaigns
We will utilize social channels to connect with your follower base and engage them with promotions to get them excited about both current events and the brand itself.
These campaigns may be as short as a day or run up to six months. We’ll analyze the results from each campaign, and then we will provide a report of its success.
Results of campaigns can be compared so the most effective promotions, offers, or contests can be replicated.
4. Integrating social media activity into other marketing plans
With clear communication and monthly brainstorm meetings, we’ll be able to consolidate the marketing initiatives to fit your goals and promotional material.
Campaigns via social media are more important than just sharing about giveaways, sales, contests, and/or promotions. We will agree on a schedule for a series of posts to keep up the exciting momentum for all prospective customers.
It is important to regularly maintain marketing activity for maximum growth.
We will continually monitor each channel and will respond to any questions, comments, and posts within a two-hour time period. Two hours will allow us to confirm that accurate information is relayed back to the person asking.
We will provide you with each of the following:
- Daily and weekly analytics. Follower growth, reach, demographics, comments, “likes”, shares, retweets, and additional metrics as provided by each platform and our own internal tracking data.
- Reporting. Summarizing various results and activities over each quarter.
We will also set up a monthly meeting to go over the results and then tweak our approach accordingly.
Your own content may look different than this depending on your proposal writing skills and services, but you can still use the example as a framework. Add in more details as needed.
For example, a cybersecurity company would need to include information on penetration testing and how often it would be done to look for possible intrusions and hacks.
Breaking up this section
While writing your proposal content, keep in mind that this section is both the most important and the most flexible section of all.
Your entire proposal doesn’t need to be bundled into a single, long section. It can easily be broken down into smaller sections such as:
- Strategic Assessment
- Goals & Outlook
There are other combinations you can try, depending on your proposal and how your solution should be explained.
If you’re offering a complex solution to a client problem, breaking your proposal into bite-sized chunks is a great way to ensure that readers understand your solution.
The importance of good data
Leveraging good data is critical when creating an effective business proposal.
Use details surrounding impact and ROI around your products and services to prove your worth and add value to your proposal.
Consider these two phrases:
“Our customers love us!”
“To date, our products and methodologies have helped more than 700 companies increase their sales by 35%!”
Which sounds better? Which is more compelling? Numbers and figures catch the eye and help readers build trust. By demonstrating a proven record of success, with numbers and data, you’re adding tangible details that help to justify your costs.
This is especially useful when competing with other solicited proposals, especially if you can include these data points as visual representations (charts, graphs, etc.) of your success within your proposal document.
This is the section where clarity and specifics are key — and nearly every member of our sales team agreed.
Create a pricing table that clearly identifies each product or service, and pair it with the most accurate pricing information you can provide.
Jump Social Media Marketing operates on a monthly billing cycle. Here’s a layout of the pricing and services for John’s Real Estate.
While building the proposal, all you’d need to do is set the price for the item and the quantity of distribution.
If you were sending an hourly contract, the quantity becomes the estimated number of hours invested at a predetermined rate.
For recurring payment schedules, you’ll need to structure the document in a way that reflects your monthly workflow.
Transparency is critical in this section. Potential customers want to know how you’re charging them, what they’re being charged for, and over what period they should expect to pay.
Be sure to include all details in a clear and accurate way.
07. About us
While you already said hello with the cover letter, this section is where you get to explain what makes your company unique.
If you’re a small business or a new company, get personal and give your potential client a chance to get to know you and your team members. Include brief bios and photos of the people they’ll be working with.
If your company has a unique backstory, a mission, or a cause that your company stands for, share that with readers. For example:
Too often in social media , good things come at a price. At Jump, paying for followers or favorable reviews of products is tantamount to criminal activity.
Authenticity is important in today’s online world, and Jump Social Media Marketing makes this our No. 1 priority in your social media space.
The information included on this page doesn’t have to be a stodgy company boilerplate or a cleverly designed sales pitch.
As the old saying goes: People buy from people — so don’t be afraid to let your team’s personality shine through.
08. Testimonials and social proof
No sales proposal is complete without information about your past successes, awards, and jobs well done.
Often, this comes in the form of social proof, such as client testimonials and short case studies.
Why do you need this? Because social proof matters!
According to data, 92% of customers are more likely to trust earned media, like recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
By including recommendations from satisfied customers and industry awards that prove your expertise, you can earn additional trust from prospective clients.
Here’s a good example of how Jump Social Media Marketing might leverage the accolades they’ve received:
Jump Social Media Marketing has received major public recognition for our work.
We’ve been named as Chicago’s Best Social Media Agency for Small Businesses by the Chicago Tribune for the past three years and have been recognized as a recommended partner by the National Association of Realtors .
We also grew the Chicago Real Estate Solutions Facebook page from 0 to 5,000 in six months , secured 250 new leads in that time frame , with 25% converting to sales .
You can also provide testimonials from past clients who can speak to your approach and how it worked for them, like so:
Lively and humorous testimonials like these can add additional personality to your company while building trust and rapport with potential clients.
However, keep your industry in mind when compiling testimonials and do your best to find user feedback that fits the mood.
If your industry has serious clients, a humorous approach may not be appropriate. If you’re working with a 3D manufacturing company with B2B clients, the messaging and tone they take with their own clients — and what they expect from the businesses they work with — may follow different expectations.
Be sure to plan accordingly.
09. Agreement and CTA
Depending on your business proposal, you may include an agreement, a call to action, and terms and conditions at the end of your document.
Your signature below indicates acceptance of this social media marketing proposal and entrance into a contractual agreement with Jump Social Media Marketing beginning on the signature date below:
Depending on your goals and your sales process, you need to be very careful in this section. In many jurisdictions, proposals are considered legally binding contracts if they meet the criteria for a contract.
By adding legal language and/or an electronic signature request at the bottom of your document, you might be entering into a contract earlier than expected.
This may not be ideal if your proposal is only intended to provide a rough estimate of costs or bring the client into further negotiations.
If you don’t intend to create a legally binding contract from your proposal, be sure to note that in your document and prompt the reader to contact you to move the process forward.
On the other hand, well-built proposals can double as complete contracts with all the terms and conditions necessary to start work immediately.
If you’re confident in the scope of work and you’re ready to take on the additional work, let the client know by promoting them for a signature.
How does a business proposal look?
First things first: We’re well past the turn of the century. Nobody likes getting thick envelopes in the mail.
Modern business proposals are sent electronically, and this is more convenient for both you and your potential customers.
While it’s possible to email a proposal created with a word processor like Microsoft Word, platforms like PandaDoc are a better fit. Our tools help you create a collaborative environment for negotiation, feedback, and electronic signature .
Regardless of how you choose to send your proposal, be sure to pay close attention to the look and feel of your document. Especially because your proposal may be your first impression with several key stakeholders, it’s essential that you follow expected formats and make a good impression.
If you search for business proposal examples online or take a look at our template library , you’ll find that most proposals rely on the structure described above to emphasize their value propositions.
Taking care to create a visually appealing proposal will help you communicate your ideas more easily. It’s also something that your competitors are doing and something that many clients are beginning to expect.
In our research, we found that roughly 80% of proposals included an image and 20% included a video. We also saw higher close rates when these multimedia tools were used compared to when they weren’t.
Exactly how a proposal is designed still has some flexibility, depending on your brand and what you’re trying to achieve, but keep in mind that it can have a big impact on success.
Proposals with pages of blocky text are much harder to navigate than proposals with charts, graphs, images, and bullet points.
It’s important to spend time beautifying your proposal,” points out Jared from PandaDoc Sales .
“A proposal that are can draw the eye directly to relevant content and keep the reader engaged is a powerful tool when trying to close a deal.”
Rather than writing a 1000-word About Us section, consider including team member headshots and a brief bio.
Rather than adding highly technical language about operational processes and leaving stakeholders to figure it out, provide visual aids that summarize the information in a clear and easy fashion.
Clearly defining your milestones isn’t the only reason to pay careful attention to how your proposal is written.
While there can be legal ramifications to poorly written proposal content, perhaps the most important consideration is the impression that your proposal leaves behind.
Your proposal introduces your client to the quality of work they can expect from your business. If it’s full of typos, spelling, and grammatical errors, or just seems sloppy, you’re unlikely to close the deal.
Read and re-read. Be sure to proofread every passage for errors before you send it to prospective clients or save it as a template.
You can also offset some of this tedium, especially on smaller deals, by focusing on creating a concise offering rather than a long-winded document.
As Quincy Berg, Enterprise Account Executive for PandaDoc points out,
If these aren’t assets that you have on your staff, consider hiring that skillset onto your team or hiring a freelancer to assist with proofreading and correction.
While many clients will overlook a stray typo or a misplaced comma, too many errors will land your proposal in the discard pile.
A word about costs
When you’re creating proposals, it’s easy for costs to add up. Costs for customized professional business proposals can take hours of research, consultation, and preparation — all with no guarantee of success.
That’s why savvy companies do everything they can to lower the cost of proposal preparation. Typically this is done by generating a template for business proposals — an outline or skeleton that someone can fill out quickly to save time and expedites internal company processes.
It’s an effective way to keep overhead low. Based on our research, an average of 20 documents are generated from each template you create .
That’s a huge time saver for any business.
After you hit ‘Send’
Once you’ve sent your proposal, your next step will depend on the process. Based on our information, about 65% of proposals containing a signature block close within 24 hours.
However, your mileage may vary. RFPs tend to be competitive processes, so you may have to wait until the submission window closes before you hear a response.
Don’t forget to follow up and ask your potential client if they have any questions. Based on the proposals we looked at, you are 30% more likely to close a deal if you send a series of reminders to keep your proposal top of mind.
PandaDoc and other proposal software tools can help you monitor your proposal using document analytics so that you know exactly when to reach out.
These tools let you know when your potential client viewed your proposal, how many times they opened it, and which sections they spent the most time on.
With these insights, you can anticipate their questions or objections and have your responses ready to go.
Free business proposal templates
Ready to get started but don’t know where to begin? PandaDoc can help with some great examples of business proposals.
In the proposals that we looked at, those created using our templates regularly created high-performing results for customers with minimal editing time.
Take a look at some of the metrics around the top professional business proposal templates currently in our template library .
Once you’ve fitted an existing template to your personal needs, you can save it as a fresh template in your content library for even faster reuse.
In doing so, you can slim the entire business proposal design process down from hours to minutes or spend more time refining your proposal for maximum appeal.
To see the true power of the PandaDoc editor, be sure to check out our community gallery for expertly designed templates from real PandaDoc customers.
If you’re a PandaDoc user, you can eve swipe these proposals and load them directly into your PandaDoc editor with a single click.
It’s just that easy.
Ultimately, your business proposal should be focused on your client’s needs and how your business plans to fix them.
No matter how you choose to build your proposal, never lose sight of that goal.
The RFP you receive will have most of the information you need to build a great proposal.
Take things step-by-step, and use the opportunity to show your client that your business is the right fit for the job.
Originally was published in October 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness in February 2022
Frequently asked questions
What’s the point of a business proposal.
Typically, the point of a business proposal is to describe in detail how your product or service will meet a client’s needs. Depending on those needs and the industry that you occupy, the content included in a standard proposal will fluctuate.
For example, at PandaDoc, many of our proposals are customized to fit the unique needs of enterprise-level organizations that are too big for our smaller plans.
If you were to compare our sales team to that of a construction company submitting a proposal to construct a building, the difference in requirements becomes clear. The proposal required for building construction is probably longer and may include far more business proposal topics than what our sales representatives would include when closing a deal.
However, despite the differences and industry requirements, each proposal will still follow the standard proposal format depicted above.
What is the format of a proposal?
The traditional format of a business proposal is as follows:
- Cover letter
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Proposal & solutions pages
- Testimonials & social proof
- Agreement & CTA
Based on our research into over 566,000 proposals created on our platform, most proposals are around nine pages in length .
To get a closer look a how to get started and how to bring your business proposal ideas to life using these sections, check out each section of this article.
What should be included in a business proposal?
Your business proposal should include everything you think you need in order to sell your product or service.
This includes all of the basic headings and subheadings you’ll see in a traditional proposal, as well as any supplemental documentation to justify your costs and reinforce your proposed approach to solving the client’s problem.
In addition to basic information about your product, you should also consider including the following:
- Contact information
- Value statements
- Pricing tables
- Client testimonials
- Examples of past work (case studies)
- Images, graphics, and related multimedia
If you’re sending your proposal electronically, you should also consider including an electronic signature block so that decisionmakers can quickly and easily seal the deal when they’re ready to proceed.
What types of business proposals are there?
All business proposals are essentially the same, but your submittal method may vary depending on the type of business proposal you need to send.
Solicited proposals are proposals that a company has asked you to provide for their consideration. The potential customer has reached out to your business and requested a proposal. This usually falls into one of two categories:
Formally solicited proposals are typically competitive and follow a standardized (formal) process. The prospective client sends out an RFP detailing the scope of work and requests that your business formally submit a bid to complete that work.
Informally solicited proposals are typically created based on conversations between a prospective client and a vendor that they want to work with. There might not be any formal documentation, and there may be no competitive process. This work can often lead to a sole-source, non-competitive contract.
Unsolicited proposals are documents that your company sends to a prospective client who hasn’t asked for one. They are not submitted in response to an RFP or an information request. Such proposals are typically created based on a market opportunity — often one that the client is either unaware of or hasn’t yet acted upon.
Proposals 14 min
Proposals 9 min
Document templates 15 min
- Marriage Proposal Videos
- Popular Stories
- How She Asked
- Proposal Planning 101
- Proposal Idea Generator
- Engagement Ring Quiz
- Share Your Proposal
Marriage Proposal Ideas that are ACTUALLY Unique
Welcome to HowTheyAsked.com—the site with more than 17,000 real marriage proposal ideas from couples around the world.
Before you read through our list of proposal ideas below, here are a few other resources we recommend you check out:
- Proposal idea generator : Search through thousands of real proposal ideas.
- Check out Blue Nile’s recently purchased engagement rings or James Allen’s ready to ship engagement rings for inspiration on creating your own ring.
- Look through all our proposal planning content and tools .
- Insure your engagement ring: Most jewelers recommend it, but a lot of couples overlook this step. We did a deep dive on how to get the right insurance for you.
Marriage proposal ideas
A truly great marriage proposal can be very hard to think of. You want to be original, but you don’t want to overdo it. You want your partner to say yes (and cry a lot).
You also want to make sure your proposal is very unique to your relationship. All that being said, we put together a lengthy list of best marriage proposal ideas that are actually unique, from artsy to outdoorsy ideas, and elaborate to simple ones too.
Keep in mind: Every proposal will be unique if you put all the unique details of your relationship into it. These next few marriage proposal ideas can get be perfect for couples with a ton of history, great stories and lots of memories.
Scavenger hunt marriage proposals
Think of a few places that are meaningful to your relationship and send your partner (and two to three friends or family members) to visit these places. Throw in a salon appointment (hair and nails), and perhaps even a stop at a boutique to pick out a new outfit. Along the way, have notes or cards (or even a voice recording of yourself) describing what each place or stop signifies. At the end of the scavenger hunt, propose with a romantic view in the background and have all the friends and family members involved in planning the day there to celebrate after.
Here’s an amazing example (it’s one of our most-read proposals).
Photo by Susan Lines
They stopped by places that were significant to the couple’s relationship, as well as places that Megan could get pampered and dolled up before the proposal. After the day was over, the getting down on one knee part was ultimately done in private (a great strategy), but it was still captured from a distance on camera! Make sure you hire a photographer when you propose—it’s one of the more important parts of planning your proposal. You can see more scavenger hunt proposal ideas here.
Outdoor marriage proposal ideas
We’re huge fans of outdoor proposal ideas . After all, relationships are about experiences, the journey and adventure. If you and your partner enjoy a good hike, outdoor picnic, or extreme adventure, here are a few unique marriage proposal ideas to learn from.
photoshoot marriage proposals
When you spend a lot of time planning a proposal, you want to make sure to remember every detail of the big day. Sure, you could set up a tripod and hope the self-timer on your phone catches the moment, but if you want the best pictures possible, a surprise photoshoot proposal is the way to go — like Javier and Michael’s proposal .
Here are some of our tips on how to plan the perfect photoshoot proposal .
Ski Lift Marriage Proposal
Write different phrases in the snow that are visible to you and your partner as you’re going up the ski lift (you can put love quotes, write out dates/milestones from your relationship, or scribble some nicknames in the snow).
Here are more snowy proposal and winter proposal ideas .
Proposing on a Hike
What better place to propose than at the end of the trail ? It’s symbolic of your journey, and chances are, the view at the top will be breathtaking—like this amazing proposal at the Stairway to Heaven .
Proposing at the Beach
If you’re a big fan of the ocean, the beach could be the perfect place to propose. Tell your partner that you heard of a beach contest for the best sand drawing (to enter, you’re supposed to take a picture of it and email it in). You could even ask the lifeguard to come up to you and “tell you about the competition.” Suggest that both you and your partner should create your own drawings. Of course, you’ll use this as your time to write out the marriage proposal. When you’re both finished, share your creations—they’ll be stunned.
See more beach proposal ideas .
Marriage Proposal Ideas for Book Lovers
Books or photo albums are a great way to chronicle your own relationship and have a keepsake to hold onto for the rest of your lives. Having your partner read through something before you get down on one knee is also a great way to build up all the emotion.
Create a milestone movie
With video creation being easier than ever (you can even use your smartphone to shoot it!), we’ve seen some really cute videos being compiled and shown right before the proposal. There are movie trailer proposals , Disney montages and tons of others. One of our favorite marriage proposal ideas is recording a video of you at all the places that are meaningful to your relationship. Record yourself at the park you laid in for five hours on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant you went to with her parents for the first time, the pet store you got your bulldog from — tell her why these moments were so special to you and your relationship.
You can show this movie at home (before the TV show you’re both hooked on), in front of friends and family members at a surprise dinner or event, or see if you can show the video at your local movie theater. This unique marriage proposal ensures you have the memory for years and years to come.
Ask their favorite author to help with the marriage proposal
If you’ve got a book lover on your hands, ask the author of their favorite book to sign “Will You Marry, ____ (your name)” on the inside. Take your partner to dinner or a picnic and give the book as a gift. You can even carve out the book and put the ring in the middle. Not only is this a creative way to propose, but it’s extra special because you’ll have the signed book as a physical memory of the proposal forever.
Make a book or photo album to propose to with
Take photos and keepsakes from your relationship and make a photo album or story book out of it. Make sure to include feelings you had with each memory and a note on the last page that says, “Will you marry me?” A bonus idea would be to add an additional page to the story book with photos and emotions from the marriage proposal (after they say yes, of course!).
Here are some great letter and/or scrapbook proposal ideas .
Marriage Proposal Ideas with Friends and Family
If your partner is close to their family, they very well might want them to be involved. You won’t have to twist anyone’s arm to help with the proposal, but be sure you only enlist the help of tight-lipped friends and family members. Whether they’re there before or after, it’s often important to share the moment with your loved ones as well. Here’s a proposal that had friends and family holding signs and messages in front of the bride-to-be as she journeyed into the backyard, where her boyfriend was standing waiting to propose. Here’s another where friends and family held a sign that said “ Dance Forever ?”
Here are a handful of proposal ideas with friends and family .
Marriage proposal while playing a trivia game
Plan a game night alone or with friends. When it’s your partner’s turn to answer a question, head over to where they’re sitting and say “Your question is: Will you marry me?” Definitely make an actual trivia card so that you have the proposal memory to hold onto.
PHEW! That was a lot. We hope it helped. If you still need more, check out our oh-so-tear-jerking collection of popular marriage proposals . We also have adorable Disney proposal ideas , tons of Christmas proposal ideas , and then you can watch hundreds of the best marriage proposal videos here as well.
As a reminder, we have a proposal idea generator and entire section to help you plan your proposal . And if you still haven’t gotten a ring, here’s tons of info on how to design a custom ring .
And that’s all folks! Best of luck and make sure you share your proposal story with us after.
Recommended reading, elmaz and reyhan.
Alex and Caleb
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Business Proposal Ideas. Start with an outline. Include data and visuals. Add social proof. Incorporate video into your proposal. Use a
How to write a business proposal · Your summary should give the reader a clear idea of how your company can help them, and invite them to
Proposals are produced for many different purposes, but they can be split into two categories: solicited and unsolicited.The solicited proposal usually begins
A proposal letter is a professional document that introduces your business ideas to an important recipient who holds a decision-making role. A
Consider getting creative and using images that represent the project or your client. For example, if you're writing a marketing proposal for a restaurant
Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn't an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and
Project proposals are how you can get management to act on your ideas. They're the bottom-up version of a project request form.
Sweet and Simple Proposal Ideas · The OG: The classics never fail. · I Woke Up Like This: Slip the ring on their finger before they wake up and
This section includes basic information like your company's name and contact information, your company logo, your client's name, and contact
Scavenger hunt marriage proposals · Outdoor marriage proposal ideas · photoshoot marriage proposals · Ski Lift Marriage Proposal · Proposing on a Hike · Proposing at