We all want to write beautiful content. The ability to convey a business proposal’s message effectively to the reader can make the difference between closing a deal and not.
When trying to pitch your business to a potential client, partner, or sponsor via a proposal, certain qualities should have.
Proposals are one of a business’s most crucial communication mediums. If you feel like the quality of your proposals needs work, this piece is for you.
Engagement is one of the main qualities that distinguish a well-written proposal from one that fails to hit the mark.
This guide will explain the qualities of a superb business proposal and show you a few tips on improving yours.
Different kinds of business proposals
Generally, business proposals fall into three categories: Informally solicited proposals, formally solicited proposals, and unsolicited proposals.
Understanding the core features and the differences between them is imperative in deciding the tone, content, and structure you should use in any given proposal:
1. Informally solicited proposals
After an informal conversation, a prospective buyer or client asks for a proposal to help them decide whether or not to proceed with your business.
You’re not given as much time as you might be if you were going through a more formal route. You might also have to source most of the client information yourself.
2. Formally solicited proposals
Here, you’re answering a request by a potential client.
Therefore, you have most of the requisite knowledge ahead of time and can glean a lot about the client from the proposal request. Using this information, you can craft a robust proposal.
3. Unsolicited proposals
Here, you’re offering your services to a lead who has not requested a proposal.
These are usually more generic to capture the attention of a broader range of prospects. A generic proposal may be followed up with a more specific one later if the lead expresses interest.
Qualities of a great business proposal
Answering a proposal call or sending unsolicited proposals brings up many questions. These questions might include: what should my proposal cover?
How long (or short) should it be? How should I structure it? Studying the features of a top-notch business proposal will help you answer those questions.
Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the features an excellent business proposal should have.
01. It should be purposeful
A great business proposal should get straight to the point. Its chief purpose is to create a relationship between you (the provider of a product or service) and a prospective buyer or client.
It is essentially a brand pitch and, as such, should get to convincing the reader as soon as possible.
The text’s main body should briefly address how you hope to add value to your prospective client.
For example, if you’re pitching to provide home renovation services to a property developer, your proposal should cover how you can increase the value of their properties with quality work.
02. It must answer the right questions
When trying to convince a client to do business with you instead of someone else, you want to cover two key bases: answer their questions about your business, and convince them that you deserve their patronage.
To do that, your proposal must do the following:
- Describe your company and what it does
- Analyze the client’s needs or pain points
- State the solution you can offer for the problem and how you intend to enact that solution
- Lay out an estimate of the time frame and resources you’ll need to do a great job
Answering these questions will signal your competence, initiative, and trustworthiness to the prospective client.
03. It should have good structure
A good business proposal must be properly structured. Think of the structure as your proposal’s skeleton. It ensures everything appears in an organized and logical manner.
The exact structure will depend on your industry and the client, but most proposals are likely to include the following in approximately this order:
- A title or headline and subheading
- A formal summary of the proposal
- A problem statement to show you understand the client’s needs
- The solution you can offer through your product or service
- A description of your company (including experience, qualifications, and achievements)
- A summary of the cost to provide your product or service
You can consult an expert style guide for inspiration and check out some visual examples and templates to see how your finished proposals match up.
04. It should be error-free
Small errors have let down many well-written proposals. Punctuation, syntax, and grammatical errors, as well as formatting inconsistencies, can seriously hurt the quality of your message and undermine your credibility.
Tools like online grammar checkers are a godsend when it comes to keeping your content clean and error-free.
05. It must be unique
Your proposal must target the specific client you’re writing for. Clients and investors can tell if a proposal is generic and won’t be impressed.
They need to see that you understand their unique needs and pain points.
Now that you understand the ingredients of a good proposal let’s look at a few content writing tips that will make yours even better!
06. Enhance your writing with appropriate visual content
People are visual creatures and tend to retain visual information more readily than pure text.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to include visual content, such as photos, infographics, and illustrations, to break up your content and make it a more engaging read.
Aside from breaking up blocks of text, visual content also serves the crucial purpose of adding context and allowing the reader to understand information such as statistics, facts, and figures more easily. So, by all means, spice up your proposals with pictures.
However, you want to make sure that the visual content complements your proposal’s message. You don’t want to dilute the tone or professionalism by using visuals misaligned with the main content.
Stock images should be avoided. Where possible, make infographics and images yourself, so they are original and branded.
07. Add testimonials and case studies
Word-of-mouth advertising is tremendously powerful. The online equivalent of a word-of-mouth recommendation is a client testimonial.
A testimonial is simply an endorsement given to your business by a past client. Many businesses use them on their homepages, but you can also use them to make your proposals more engaging and credible.
You’ll convert more new clients if you can engage them with success stories from past clients. Humans gravitate towards proven positive experiences, so adding these testimonials reassures the reader that they can believe what you’re saying.
Not sure how to go about putting together these testimonials? You can start by sending out polite requests to past clients via email.
Ask them to rate your service quality using the set of parameters you consider most important to a future client. Using that information, you can then organize their responses into cohesive testimonials.
In your proposal’s “achievements” section, you can refer to a testimonial from a customer. Ask your happy customers to be as specific as possible when talking about how your solution helped them.
“Helped us grow our business” is vague, while “helped us achieve a 20% sales growth year-over-year” is quantifiable.
Case studies work similarly but allow you to go more in-depth, using an example of past work to showcase your skills.
By citing case studies, you’re showing the client that you have a deep understanding of your industry and their needs. Again, be specific and keep it relevant.
When you use case studies and testimonials, focus on storytelling. Any case study or testimonial should clearly explain the client’s problem, the solution you offered, and the outcome.
08. Use words that persuade
When you write a business proposal, you’re trying to create an idea in the prospective client’s mind about how your product or service is the best solution to their problem.
As such, you want to use words and phrases that reinforce a belief in your product or service’s quality.
For example, words like “create” and “increase” are useful for demonstrating the value you can add to a client.
Words like “secret” and “discover” imply knowledge and expertise that you can impart to the client if they work with you. And so on.
Spice up your proposal with these powerful words to keep the reader engaged and keep them reading. A proposal that uses the right power words will help you seal the deal.
While you always want to be persuasive, make sure not to write a check you can’t cash. Keep your projections and promises deliverable and realistic. In other words, don’t fall into the trap of creating impossible expectations!
A well-written business proposal should never be rushed. If you want to close a deal with a prospective client, you’ll have first to hook them with your proposal’s captivating sales pitch regardless of your sales methodology.
In summary, you want your proposals to be:
- Free of errors
- A show of competence
Ensure to always aim for outstanding content. With solicited proposals especially, never repurpose old copy for a new client.
Write from scratch, considering the client’s unique needs, service requirements, and objectives.
Remember that a proposal is selling a story and that the main character is not you, your product, or your solution – the main character is your client.
A proposal is your chance to prove yourself. When writing one, go all out and put all of your hard-earned experience on every page. If you do, you’ll soon be closing those lucrative deals!