How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates)

By Aditya Sheth, May 17, 2021

How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates) Blog HeaderThe 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 proposal templates, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals.

Download our Free Business Proposal Template to get new clients.

Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):

What is a business proposal?

A 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 template, like this content marketing plan, outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client.

Content Marketing Plan_Venngage


 

To design a business proposal template that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points. Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.

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What should you include in a business proposal?

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 covers the above points.

Simple B2C Consulting Proposal_Venngage


 

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What are the three types of business proposals?

1. Formally solicited 

A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request for 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 proposal for your buyer to evaluate. 

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.

3. Unsolicited 

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. They 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:

Simple Project Proposal_Venngage


 

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How do you write a business proposal?

Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to know what it comprises. At a high level your business proposal should include the following:

  1. Title
  2. Table of contents
  3. Executive summary
  4. The problem statement
  5. The proposed solution
  6. Qualifications
  7. The timeline
  8. Pricing, billing and legal
  9. Terms and conditions
  10. The acceptance

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

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template Cover Page_Venngage

 

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?”

Table of contents

The table of contents is a fundamental part of every 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.

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:

Abstract Business Consulting Proposal Template TOC_Venngage


 

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.

Proposal ToC Example

Executive summary

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, a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over.

The goals of your executive summary are:

  1. Introduce your company to your buyer
  2. Provide an overview of your company goals
  3. Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
  4. 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:

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template About Us_Venngage
 

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.

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The problem statement

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. 

Bold Business Proposal Template
 

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 proposed solution

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 with respect to the solution you will provide. Explain how you plan to deliver this solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and any relevant details.

For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics:

Sales Plan Proposal Table Template_Venngage


 

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Qualifications

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.

Standard-Business-Proposal-Template
 

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.

The timeline

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.

Abstract Business Consulting Proposal Template Timeline_Venngage

 

 

The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.

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Pricing, billing and legal

On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, 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 client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:

Bold Business Proposal Template Pricing Page_Venngage


 

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.

Terms and conditions

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.

Contrast Business Consulting Proposal Template_Venngage

 

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 acceptance

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.

Orange-Simple-Project-Proposal-Template

 

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Business proposal examples and design tips

Now you know how to write a business proposal. Below you’ll find some amazing 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 this business proposal example uses its brand identity:

General Business Proposal_Venngage

 

From the color palettes to the company logo, 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 MyBrand 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:

Example of a Business ProposalSource

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.

Creative-Business-Proposal-Template-1

 

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:

Red-Human-Resources-Business-Proposal-Template

 

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.

Simple Business Proposal Example

Source

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: 

SEO Marketing Proposal_Venngage
 

Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.

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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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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:

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:

Green Modern Marketing Proposal_Venngage

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!


 

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About Aditya Sheth

Aditya Sheth is a Content Marketer at Venngage. When he's not busy writing informative content or brainstorming growth experiments you can find him reading nonfiction, listening to rap or exploring memes on the internet. Find him on Twitter!