What is a business proposal and why should you use them?

A business proposal is a sales document used to win new projects and clients.

It’s more than just a summary of costs and timelines.

They showcase the work you’ll do, your company’s approach and how your business can solve the client’s problem better than your competitors can.

Business proposals are used by a range of services businesses across a number of industries.

Not only do they help you win more work but they also help you set clear expectations with your clients.

In this article, we go over what are proposals, when and why you should use them and what should be included in one.

What is a business proposal?

If an estimate is a rough approximation of how much a job will cost, a proposal is a comprehensive package that includes all of the information about the project.

They are detailed documents used by services businesses as part of the competitive process to win business.

It can contain any of the following:

  • A cover page
  • Scope of the project
  • Timelines
  • Deliverables
  • Costs
  • Terms and conditions
  • Estimates and quotes from suppliers and contractors
  • Certifications/qualifications
  • Customer testimonials

Your proposal should show the potential client that your methods or delivery is the best solution for their problem.

It’s more about pushing a sale than stating the costs.

In a proposal, you should outline your costs and then prove why you’re worth those costs.

Some proposals can also include a contract that the customer must sign to accept the proposal

When should you use a business proposal?

A proposal can be submitted upon request or you may submit one without being asked to.

For large projects, you may receive a Request for Proposal (RFP). This is a formal document that outlines details about the project (budget, scope, timeline) so the buyer can get proposals from competing vendors.

You should only start your proposal after you’ve had an initial consultation or conversation with the buyer.

This helps you to understand the more nuanced details of the project.

As a general rule, proposals should only be used for large or complex projects or for business that provide services.

They are used when a buyer needs more information to assess whether a business will or

For straightforward jobs, an estimate or quote is enough.

Why should you use proposals

Proposals are an effective way to win work with someone that you don’t have an existing relationship with.

They’re also a good opportunity to show how your business stands out from the competition.

You get to differentiate yourself and demonstrate your value.

Proposals let you showcase your brand and present your pitch or unique solution.

Unlike a brief estimate or quote, you can add as much information as you need to prove why your business is the best for the job.

What should be included in as proposal?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

It depends on your industry, the nature of your business and the job that needs to be performed.

For instance, creative businesses will want to focus on having a well-designed proposal with past use cases.

However, for a construction business, qualifications and safety documents might be more important.

Here are a few things you might include in your proposal:

Title page and table of contents

Your title page is your chance to make an impression.

You want it to be easily recognisable and reflect your brand.

Make sure you include the name of the project, your name, your company’s name, the date you sent the proposal and the client’s details.

If your document is long, you’ll also want to add a table of contents to help them navigate the document.

Executive summary

The executive summary should be a brief overview of what the client can expect.

It needs to include a summary of the key points of the proposal and your services.

After reading it, the client should have a good understanding of what you are offering.

About us/company bio

This is where you need to sell who you are.

What makes your business special?

You can write about how long you’ve been in business, where your team is based, your company’s history, who’s on your team and more.

Share your company’s story.

Also include contact details here so they can easily reach out to you.

Problem definition

Write an overview of the problem your client wants you to solve or the job they want you to do.

This shows that you understand their needs and you can give them what they want.

Use the information you gathered from your conversations, the Request for Proposal if you received one and other research.

Company approach & methodology

Outline your company’s unique approach to the job and how it is the right solution for the client.

Go into detail about the specific services and methodologies you will use.

You need to sell how your approach will bring the results that the client wants.

Work schedule and timelines

Outline the timeline for implementing the solution.

Separate the project into phases of work and set key milestones.

This will help you manage expectations, especially if there are any requests added later.

Qualifications and testimonials

Depending on what industry you’re in, you’ll need to provide some sort of proof that you’re capable of doing what you say you can do.

Make the client trust you.

Depending on what industry you’re in, you can add qualifications, safety certificates, prior experiences, client testimonials, case studies and more.

Pricing

Provide a breakdown of the costs of the services you are proposing.

You can include a few pricing options for different levels of services.

Include any quotes that you get from suppliers or contractors that you will need to hire.

Add a disclaimer to this section if costs may vary for whatever reason.

Payment terms

Separating your payment terms from the terms and conditions helps you to set clear expectations surrounding payment.

Outline when and how you expect to get paid so that you can get paid quickly and easily for the job.

Terms and conditions

Work with a lawyer or use a template to write your terms and conditions.

Display all the key information clearly to make it easy for the client to read.

You can also add your terms and conditions to your website.

Make the next steps easy

Once your client has read your proposal, you need to make it easy for them to accept.

Add a section for a signature or offer an e-signature option so they can accept the proposal.

You should also include a valid-to-date somewhere on the proposal and contact information should they have any questions to ask.

How to create a proposal with Bookipi

You can create a proposal with Bookipi for free in 5 simple steps.

  1. Design a cover page with Canva.

2. Enter the project details (i.e. proposal title, customer information, start and end date.

3. Fill out the services page.

4. Create a terms and conditions section on the Agreement page with our free template

5. Preview and send.

Create a proposal with Bookipi today! Get started