Make your case with a business proposal.

Put together a business proposal that identifies and shows how you can meet your prospective client’s needs.

A business owner sitting at a desk writing up a business proposal on their laptop

Business proposal basics.

 

A business proposal is a proposal you make to a potential client, customer, or company that explains why they should buy your product or service. A typical proposal outlines what you have to offer to the other party. It aims to win specific business, unlike a business plan, which focuses on how a business will operate.

 

Create digital business proposals

 

 

Types of business proposals.

 

There are two common types of business proposals, solicited and unsolicited. When a company has made it clear that they are looking for new partners, you’ll write a solicited proposal. They might release a Request for Proposal (RFP), in which they detail their needs and expectations. If your business is well established, they might approach you directly to ask for a pitch. When you submit an unsolicited proposal, you’re initiating contact with the prospective client. The type of proposal you write will differ depending on your stakeholders, the industry, and your product or services.

A graphic of a business proposal being exported to a PDF using Adobe Acrobat DC on a laptop

Key elements of a winning business proposal.

 

A business proposal document should present your argument clearly and succinctly with convincing evidence. If you’re responding to an RFP, be sure you’ve read it closely and understand what’s expected of you. Whether your proposal is solicited or unsolicited, it should include the following:

 

 

Cover letter

 

Introduce yourself and your company. If you’re submitting an unsolicited business proposal, provide a quick summary of your experience and capabilities to show that you are a serious contender.

 

 

Title page

 

Every proposal needs a cover page. Include the date, your name, company name, and the business owner or decision maker’s name.

 

 

Executive summary

 

This introduction is like a value proposition. It summarizes the main points of the proposal and explains why your company is the one most capable of meeting the prospective client’s needs or solving their problem.

 

 

Table of contents

 

Make your proposal easy to navigate and keep your target audience in mind. The faster they can find what they’re looking for, the better.

 

 

Problem statement

 

The prospective client knows they have a problem, but by putting their pain points in your own words, you can show them that you understand it and know how to solve it.

A business owner standing in their kitchen while using their laptop to review a business proposal

Proposed solution and strategy

 

Explain how your company can solve the client’s problem. This section should back up the initial claim made in the executive summary: Your company is the one to solve the problem. You don’t have to include every project detail, but you should provide a roadmap that makes a convincing case for your methodology.

 

 

Qualifications

 

Prove that you know what you’re talking about. Show how your experience can help you solve the prospect’s problem, and turn past client success stories into case studies that demonstrate your ability. If possible, include testimonials from satisfied customers to prove your points and lend credibility to your proposal.

 

 

Costs

 

Offer a detailed estimate. You can add a pricing table that shows the expected cost of each deliverable, and how they add up. You can give the client choices to opt in or out of and see how those decisions might change the price.

 

 

Terms and conditions

 

Show how you envision moving forward with this partnership. Offer a time frame. If you’re writing a project proposal, you should provide a project timeline. You can also offer a payment schedule.

 

 

Field for client signature

 

Part of what makes you the best company for the job is that you’ve thought of everything. That should include a place for the prospect to agree to your terms and conditions and officially become your client. Be sure to consult your attorney before you deliver the proposal to a prospective client.

Design of a business proposal on a tablet device and mobile phone

Go digital with your business proposals.

 

Create a business proposal template that you can customize as needed and revise whenever you have to renegotiate any terms. With Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with e-sign, you can share a link to your proposal and easily track its status so you always know when to follow up. Also, your client can e-sign the business proposal document and send it back with a click, completing the agreement in minutes instead of days.

 

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