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How to Write Effective Proposals

Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

The purpose of a business proposal is to present your company to a potential client in the best possible way. A proposal explains the value, benefits or advantages of your company with the ultimate goal of capturing new business.

What is a Business Proposal?

A business proposal is a document designed to present your company's products and services to a potential customer. There is no specific format that is required, but it should contain specific details.

Let's look at the components that should be included:

  • Company name
  • Proposal date
  • Executive summary
  • Product or service description
  • Pricing information
  • Deadline for approval
  • Terms and conditions
  • Appendix

Clearly, you want to highlight the company name at the top of the document. Also include the logo, slogan or any identifying text or visual you feel will stick in the minds of the customer.

Because proposals are generally time-sensitive, a draft date should be included. It should appear on the front page just below your company name.

The executive summary comes next. This section is the hook to gain the client's interest. It should tell the client what the proposal is about in a nutshell. Keep in mind, your proposal may be one of many a prospective client receives. Make it an attention-grabber. The way to do this is to present the many ways your company is unique. Set yourself apart from the others.

Next, is the product or service description. Use creativity in describing your offer. Be specific and detailed. Let your client know what differentiates your products or services from others.

This leads to pricing. Never apologize for pricing. Instead, speak in terms of the value your product or service offers the customer. Explain how your product or service can help the customer solve a current problem or increase the customer's bottom line. Helping the customer understand the benefits your product or service offers will make the value the important talking point and not the price.

Usually, there is a deadline for proposals. Make your deadline reasonable yet strict. Depending on the nature of your business, pricing may fluctuate. Having an overly generous deadline may affect your bottom line.

Along with the deadline, provide your client with Terms and Conditions. This could be ordering information, credit terms or delivery options.

End the proposal with an appendix containing any additional information you would like the client to access like charts and graphs, photos, certifications or specifications.

Now that we understand what goes into a proposal, let's look at some writing tips.

Tips for Writing a Business Proposal

We know that a business proposal is written to explain to the client how you plan on satisfying their needs. Since you are probably not the only company vying for their business, it is essential that you present your company in the highest regard.

Here are a few tips you can use:

1. Review and understand the customer's needs - sending a proposal for the wrong product or service will only make your company look incompetent. Know your customer. Know what problems or challenges they currently face that your product or service might address.

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