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Help Center

How to Design a Proposal That Wins Clients (With Examples)

By Aditya Rana, Feb 14, 2024

how to design a proposal that wins clients blog header

You’ve heard it many times, but I’ll say it again, first impressions matter.

But many people don’t take this fact seriously. Ask yourself. Would you arrive to an interview late and in flip-flops? I’d hope not!

The same principle applies to creating proposals. You need to appear professional and gain the trust of prospective clients to land deals or get funding. 

Most people create proposals using templates that look, well, generic. In this post, I’ll show you how to make proposals that command attention using an easy-to-use Proposal Maker and proposal templates


Click to jump ahead:

What is a proposal? 

Proposals are documents that show how a person or business plans to achieve a task or goal.

Don’t confuse them for pitch decks which are concise visual presentations meant to capture the interest of potential investors, clients, or partners.

The main goal of proposals is to persuade a reader to accept, endorse, fund or approve a project, idea or course of action. They’re much more in-depth than pitch decks.

Here’s an example of a proposal:

Bold Business Proposal Outline

Who should create proposals? 

Not sure if you need proposals? Let’s look at some scenarios where proposals make sense.  

  • Project managers 

Project managers often need management approval before starting new projects. For them, project proposals are an ideal tool to present scope, budget, and timeline. 

  • Sales professionals 

Sales reps need proposals to pitch products or services to potential clients. For them, sales proposals help communicate value propositions and influence sales.

  • Researchers 

Researchers need proposals to obtain funding for an idea. Proposals allow them to present the question, methodology, and potential impact of the findings.

How to design a proposal in 5 steps

Proposal design correlates to your odds of getting deals or funding.  

Think about it. Would you trust a proposal that uses different colors on each page and/or has no logo? I doubt it. 

A winning proposal follows good design principles (hierarchy, contrast and balance) to build trust and optimize user experience.

Follow these steps to design a solid proposal:

1. Define your target audience

Before you design proposals, define your target audience. 

What industry does your prospective client operate in? What challenges do they face? What solution(s) do they need? What specific requirements do they have?

Your answers will help you choose a proposal type that best addresses the pain points of prospects.

For example, let’s pretend a digital marketing firm wants to showcase the services it offers. How can it do this best? You guessed it. With a proposal!

Here’s a marketing proposal template they might use in this situation: 

Digital Marketing Proposal Template

2. Create a structure

After you identify a target audience, the next step is to organize your proposal. 

Your proposal not only needs to present solutions but also be easy to follow. A well-structured proposal typically includes the following:

Note: Different types of proposals might slightly differ in terms of structure to address specific needs.

  • Cover page 

The cover page is the first impression people get of you. It should include the title, company name and logo, and a visual that draws viewers in.

A cover page can make or break your proposal because it influences whether a person continues on to the next page. 

Here’s a great example of a proposal with a cover page that communicates success:

Web Design Proposal Template
  • Table of contents 

The table of contents lists each item included in a proposal to make navigation easy. This section is important to improve user experience.

In this proposal example, the table of contents feature on the cover page so that readers can find what they need easily.

seo marketing plan
  • Executive summary

The executive summary provides an overview of the problem, solution, and plan of action. It helps busy decision-makers gain a quick understanding of your proposal.

Here’s a great single page proposal that effectively acts a executive summary.

Product One Page Executive Summary Template
  • Project overview 

The project overview section describes the issue(s) or opportunity. This is important to make a compelling case and give context to your proposal.

In this example, the project overview provides a clear picture of the problem and defines what success looks like.

change management plan software
  • Proposed solutions

This section details your approach to solving a problem or how you plan to seize an opportunity.

This section is an opportunity to play up your skills and stand out from the competition. Here’s an example.

sales proposal
  • Timeline 

The timeline section visually outlines deadlines to ensure timely completion. This way, all parties can stay aligned on delivery and plan resource allocation.

In this proposal example, a gantt chart is used to visualize each phase of the project.

Dark Green Construction Bid Proposal Template
  • Budget and pricing

The budget and/or pricing section breaks down the costs or financial terms for a proposed project. 

This section is important for transparency and helps the client make better decisions regarding value. 

Dark Green Yellow Simple Professional Proposal
  • Qualifications

Though not necessary, information on your qualifications shows how reliable and qualified you are. 

  • Terms and conditions

The terms and conditions page specifies legal and procedural rules to govern the working relationship.

Terms help define legalities that protect both the service provider and client.

Remember, compelling proposals make it as easy for a potential client to see the value and feasibility of your proposed solution. 

3. Be consistent with layout 

Now let’s look at the step most people find difficult, designing a proposal. 

You need graphic design skills, right? Think again! Venngage is a simple and powerful design solution that helps you create proposals.

Choose from our extensive library of proposal templates or create one from scratch.

Just so you know, some of our proposal templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Here are some proposal design tips:

  • Apply white space
  • Use a consistent color scheme 
  • Choose clear, readable fonts 
  • Maintain uniform margins, header and footer styles, and alignment 

Here’s a great example of a proposal that follows all these principles.

Illustrative Road Construction Project Proposal

4. Incorporate visuals 

No one likes to read text-heavy documents. It’s dry and most people simply don’t have the time.

You need to liven up proposals with visuals. Images and icons help simplify complex information and keep readers engaged. But there’s something better than icons and images. 

Want to know the secret? Use infographics and charts/diagrams. 

Infographics grab attention and keep readers engaged. People are more likely to look at an infographic than read through paragraphs of text.

Here’s a great example of a business proposal that uses infographics and diagrams throughout to make the content easy to digest.

modern business proposal

How can you make an infographic like in example above? Simple! 

Besides proposals, Venngage is also a powerful infographic creator and has the best infographic templates for you to choose from.

5. Write persuasive copy 

While visuals are important, you can’t ignore the copy completely. The text of your proposal needs to convey the value.

To write persuasive copy, focus on the following:

  • Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • Relevance

Use language that speaks directly to your audience’s interests and concerns, emphasizing how your proposal meets their needs or solves their problems.

7 proposal design examples

There is no shortage of proposal types to match almost any use case.  

In this section, I’ll share examples of great proposals you can use as inspiration to design your own. (Reminder: You can design proposals like these with Venngage). 

Business proposals

A business proposal presents a specific product or service to a prospective client or buyer. 

You’ll see them used by nonprofits, consultants, and sales teams to gain an edge over competitors. 

Here’s a great example. This business proposal template answers why Tri + Cell Design is the best company for office interior design.  

Vibrant Business Proposal

Construction proposals 

A construction proposal is made by a construction firm or contractors as part of an offer for construction services. 

They provide a detailed framework of what the client can expect in terms of project scope, costs, timelines, and any specific services. 

You likely won’t get a construct project without one. Why? 

Construction proposals help to set clear expectations and establish a professional relationship. 

Here’s a great example: 

Simple Dark Blue Construction Proposal

Project proposals

A project proposal outlines a specific project to potential sponsors, clients, or stakeholders. 

Its main purpose is to gain support for the project by outlining objectives, methodology, timeline, budget, and more. 

You’ll see project proposals used for any project that requires external approval or financial backing.

Simple White And Blue Project Proposal

Job proposals 

Do you hate creating a cover letter for jobs? Feel they’re outdated and ancient? Or are you a company tired of creating boring job ads?

Why not consider a job proposal? A job proposal is a pitch in which a person offers their services to an employer or a company announces hiring.

They’re much more engaging than the normal hiring process. Here’s an example of a job proposal.

Blue Minimalist Modern Job Proposal

Consulting proposals 

A consulting proposal is essentially a pitch that outlines an expert’s or a consulting firm’s offer of professional services.

It’s a way for consultants to sell services and for buyers to understand how they will solve problems. 

Business Consulting Services Proposal

Marketing proposals 

A marketing proposal is a document that outlines strategy on how to promote a client’s products, services, or brand. 

Marketing proposals help showcase expertise, success, and an understanding of trends and technologies.  

Social Media Marketing Proposal

Event proposals 

An event proposal helps people outline their concept for an event to a potential client.

Event proposals show how a person will create an event with a theme and execute it from start to end. 

Here’s an example of an event proposal: 

Yellow and Blue Music Event Proposal

How to create your own proposal with Venngage 

Step 1 – Sign up for a Venngage account (it’s free!)

Sign up for Venngage using your email, Gmail or Facebook account.

venngage sign up

Step 2 – Select a proposal template from our library

Venngage has tens of thousands of templates to choose from including proposal templates. 

For example, you might need a business proposal to persuade potential clients or a sales proposal to clearly outline the benefits and features of your products or services. 

venngage proposal templates

Step 3 – Edit your proposal in a few clicks 

Using a Venngage template helps you build professional proposals fast, without having to worry about the design.

And the best part is that you can actually customize the proposal to make it uniquely yours!

For example, pretend you want to swap icons in this business proposal template. Just select it and browse our in-editor library of thousands of free, professional icons, plus diverse icons.

proposal design edit venngage

Just select a replacement you like, and you’re all done!

edited proposal venngage template

If you sign up for a Business plan, you’ll also get access to My Brand Kit. This feature lets you apply your brand colors to any template with one click.

Other features include the ability to edit designs in-real time, comment on designs, create folders, and export. 

Oh and one more thing. Venngage’s editor has accessibility features built-in. This means even people living with impairments can understand them.

No need to remediate your designs like in other graphic design solutions such as Canva.  

Step 4 – Share a link to your proposal for free or upgrade to download

Once you’ve created an infographic, it’s time to share it with the world. With a free account, you’ll get a link to the infographic. 

But if you want to download the infographic as a PNG file or PDF, you’ll need to upgrade to a Business account.

download venngage template

Conclusion: You don’t want bad proposal design to let you down. Use Venngage proposal templates instead to win deals you deserve.

Designing a proposal to win clients or get funding is more than just slapping a few pages together. 

You need to create a story and communicate why you’re the best choice and back it up with good proposal design.

And unless you’re a design expert, it can be easy to mess this up. Head over to our proposal templates and customize away. You won’t be disappointed!


Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you structure a proposal?

An effective proposal structure requires you to include the following: 1) cover page, 2) table of contents, 3) executive summary, 4) project background, 5) proposed solutions, 6) timeline showcasing your plan of execution, and 7) budget and pricing. Note: The structure of your proposal may vary slightly from this depending on the type of proposal you’re creating. 

How can I create a proposal?

To create your own proposal, follow these steps: 1) define the problem, 2) present a solution, 3) share your problem-solving plan, 4) state when you’ll deliver the solution, and 5) outline the budget. If you’re not sure how to create a proposal or worried about lack of design skills, Venngage’s Proposal Maker or proposal templates help you create professional proposals in minutes. 

Why is proposal design important?

Proposal design is important because it is often the first point of reference for why someone should hire or fund you. The effort you put into good proposal design reinforces trust  and is part of your branding. 

About Aditya Rana

Adi is a word slinger and loves to fiddle around with SaaS. When not living online, you'll find him outside in nature with a book.