Business proposals are a necessary evil that most b2b sales professionals must perfect. These written documents handed to prospects are what allows sales teams to make it from proposal to pitch stage. Business proposals are found in many facets of business yet many people do not focus on its sheer importance.
There remains different formats of proposals that people use to present to prospects, but there are certain underpinnings that every business proposal must possess in order to get across and convey to the prospect that your firm can make a difference for their company. Based on our years of experience creating presentations and leveraging proposals of clients to create them, we’ve put together our version of sample business plan and sample business proposal template that can be used by any professional in just about any industry.
Objective Of The Project
This is very much like the vision statement for the project. Addressing the objective of the assignment establishing an understanding that you get their problem, you understand the challenges they are facing, and you are both on the same page as to the task at hand.
In addition to the objective, it makes sense to produce sub challenges that the prospect may be facing. These can be based on questions you asked the prospect before being given the opportunity to produce a proposal. They can also be challenges you thought of that the prospect may not even be thinking about. This area will help set you a part from the other proposals that prospect is collecting and will also help dictate the rest of your proposal.
What Is Your Pricing
What do your services cost? The question will come up at some point. It makes sense to place your pricing in the proposal with clear language that explains what the total cost is, the term of engagement, and any other important caveats that are critical to the project such as expenses that will be reimbursed by the client.
Some companies like to place the pricing at the beginning of the proposal. This strategy is very interesting in that it automatically tells the prospect in this order “this is what we charge and this is what you get” versus “this is what you get and this is how much it will cost you.” We’ve seen both strategies be effective, so you have to do what’s comfortable and makes sense in terms of the flow of the proposal.
Social Proof (Your Past & Current Clients)
Are you in good company? Have you worked with companies like ours? Have you been effective in producing solutions for them? How are your existing clients doing today? Add this information to this section of your proposal. This won’t convince the potential client to work with you, but this is another checkbox that will make them more comfortable in working with you.
Case Studies (optional)
We’ve seen some companies use the approach of adding a couple case studies but more so abbreviated versions of projects very similar to the one they’re pitching for and showcasing the end result. The reason this is optional is because you don’t want to talk too much about their competitors or other companies like theirs. This proposal is suppose to be forward looking. It’s about what you can do for them, not necessarily what you did for other companies like theirs. So use some good judgment and try to keep this section brief and to the point so you can get as quickly into their project as possible.
What Is Your Process – Answering The How
What does your process look like? The client will want to know how you two will work together and at minimum the overview of how you will solve their problem. As a bonus, it is very effective producing a specific timeline and process geared towards their project. Just placing your standard process is not good enough these days. You must speak to their project and create even a 90 day launch plan that shows them know exactly what to do when you start working together.
Why Your Company
We tend to leave this in the back of the proposal because talking too much about yourself is….well too much. The sections on social proof and case studies somewhat accomplishes that. You can add information on bios and experience to the project but again, this shouldn’t be the bulk of your write-up.
How Your Solutions Will Fix Their Challenge
Some can seem like it’s taken a century to get to probably the most important section of your proposal, but you had to build up to this point. You had to answer all the little questions to get to the bigger part of your pitch.
This is where you sell and convince the prospect you’re the best company for the job. Do you recall in the beginning where we discussed the objective but also the challenges? This is where you get to address each of them. And here is a simply method to discuss how you plan to tackle each challenge they are facing:
- Situation – What is the current challenge the prospect is facing.
- Task – This is very similar to the situation but you may also throw in what you’re set out to accomplish here.
- Action – Here you’re given the chance to address the actual steps you will take to solve their challenges. This is be married to the process you laid out in the “How We Work” section, but you need to make this a bit more specific to the challenges the prospect is facing.
- Result – What does all of this work look like at the 25% mark, 50% mark, and 100% mark of the project? Give them a sense of the where you want to take the project and how long it will take to get there.
Normally, we like to provide 3 or more references from prior clients we’ve worked with that we know can vouch for us. Be aware that if you leave references in the proposal, there is a good chance they will call them. Put this at the end of the proposal though.
We tend to believe that improving even by a small percentage (10 – 20%) at each stage of the sales and marketing process can produce huge dividends for companies. The proposal stage is no different. This business proposal template sets the stage for producing effective proposals that sell and win more business.
With every good presentation is a good presentation builder that fit the intricacies and identity of your organization. At CustomShow, we believe our presentation software can do just that.