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How to Write a Business Proposal

Instructor: Ashley Johns

Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

Do you sell an expensive product or service? Do you need more customers? It is time to learn how to write a business proposal. This lesson provides an overview of how to write an effective business proposal.

Types of Business Proposals

Some companies have customers that come to them. Others have to go get the customers. If you find yourself needing new clients or more work, you may want to look into writing a business proposal. Don't confuse a business proposal with a business plan, though. A business plan is a written report that explains the goals of the business. A business proposal is a report that includes these goals and explains what the business has to offer the client. The report could be anywhere from 1-50 pages. The length of the report depends on the amount of information you need to give a potential client about the work you can do for them.

There are two different kinds of business proposals: solicited and unsolicited. A solicited business proposal is a proposal that is provided as a response to a client's advertisement. For example, say Company X wants to put in a new swimming pool. The owner may request a proposal from three different companies to determine the best option. An unsolicited business proposal is a proposal that is provided to potential clients, although the proposal was not requested. For example, if your company does payroll and other accounting services, you might send a proposal out to a large company to gain their business.

Before Writing

Now that you know what a business proposal is, you need to prepare the necessary information to write it. This preparation will give you the best opportunity to win over the client. Here are three things you need to do before you begin writing:

  • Do Your Research

Check into software programs available to help write the proposal. If you plan to write proposals often, this could be a good investment for you. You might even find free options online.

Whether the proposal be solicited or not, you need to research the company and their competition. By showing you understand them, you are more likely to get the opportunity to partner with them for this job. It is not uncommon for a business to provide a very brief summary of what they need for a solicited proposal. With an unsolicited proposal, it is your job to explain to the company the problem you feel your company can solve for them. .

  • Be the Client

We just discussed that you need to understand the potential client. Now you need to show how you can benefit the client. What does the client want and need? What if you were the client? What would you want?

  • Be Distinctive

What makes your company and services different? Be sure to elaborate on the features your company offers that match what the client needs.

Sections of a Business Proposal

The business proposal explains to the potential customer what is wrong and how you can fix it. It is broken down into three sections to guide them through the process. These sections are known as the three Ps: problem statement, proposed solution and pricing information.

  • Problem Statement

How can you fix a problem if you don't know what it is? State the problem. Be sure you understand it and give a clear, simple statement. The problem provides a purpose for the proposal. The problem statement should be free of opinions and full of evidence. For example: Customer service ratings have decreased by 15% over the last quarter and sales have decreased by 10%.

  • Proposed Solution

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