8 Essential Components of an Effective Business Proposal

You’ve done all the right things to find new clients—maybe you joined a co-working space and sponsored a networking event to market your business or hosted a presentation to impress a client. Whatever your approach, the potential client now wants to learn more, and it’s time to prepare your business proposal.

An effective business proposal represents your vision and your sales pitch. It shows your understanding of the client’s issues and goals and that you have the best processes to resolve them. To help you get started, here’s an example of  the main components of a business proposal:

Essential Components of an Effective Business Proposal

Some proposals, such as an RFP for a government contract, have a structured format that all vendors must use. In that case, there are templates online that contractors can follow. The following recommendations are for general business proposals instead of companies using visual models, such as architecture firms.

Types of Business Proposals

There are three general types of business proposals that you may need to prepare, depending on your specific situation:

  • Unsolicited: proposals for clients that have not explicitly asked for them. This proposal may be more generic than other types, but you can still address the customer’s pain points with research.
  • Formally solicited: proposals for clients that require an RFP (Request for Proposal) response. Potential clients will compare your documentation against competitors to select a vendor or service.
  • Informally solicited: you’ve communicated with the client, and they’ve asked for a proposal. This type of proposal may involve more research than an RFP, which specifies everything the client needs.

The Main Components of a Business Proposal

Practical business proposals follow a standard format. You can use a free proposal template found online or create your own. The following are elements included in a typical business proposal:

  1. Title page: your name and company’s name. Show the name of the potential client and company, along with the date of the proposal. Add graphics or photographs to your submission to stand out or communicate more complex information.
  2. Table of contents: when a document is scannable and easy to read, it has a more significant impact. A table of contents lets decision makers skim the proposal and review areas related to their departments. For example, only certain department heads might focus on electrical installations and HVAC systems in a building project.
  3. Summary: some of your clients may only read this one page rather than reviewing the full document, so make it count. Make sure this overview includes a short introduction to your company and experience. Topline your understanding of the company and their needs, then briefly describe how you’ll solve a problem the potential client faces.
  4. Project statement: outline the project or problem your company will solve. This element shows you understand the client’s goals and concerns. If you miss the mark here, you won’t be able to recover, so make sure you clearly understand your offering and the value it provides to the client.
  5. Your solution: describe how you’ll solve the client’s problem. Include enough detail to show your expertise, but don’t reveal your whole strategy. They’ll have to pay for that!
  6. Qualifications: discuss your company’s experience, history in the industry, and success in similar projects. List other clients where appropriate.
  7. Timeline and benchmarks: show significant deliverables of the project on a timeline. Use a flow chart or timeline infographic to make this easy to visualize.
  8. Cost, billing schedule, and legal details: outlines your fees, billing schedule, and payment terms.

A successful business proposal takes research. When you know your client’s needs, pain points, and aspirations, you can incorporate that into the proposal. Prepare by learning from discussions with the client! Then create a winning business proposal showcasing your knowledge of their business and expertise in solving their problems.  

If you need a physical space to write, collaborate in, or share your proposal, reach out to the team at Endeavor to reserve your conference room today!