How to Create an Outstanding Business Proposal

In the online business environment, which is today dominated by freelancing and remote working, being able to convey a simple yet informative message is one of the most wanted skills.

Since most of the modern professional negotiations are done via email, chat services or online freelancing platforms, you have to develop your own way of writing proposals.

Knowing how to shape your business offer and present it to your client is the major prerequisite for landing a lucrative project.

Those who acquire these skills are likely to be more successful than those who will not.

This is why we’ve prepared an overview of the key features that every well-composed proposal needs to contain.

Highlight the final price

Unlike estimates, where it’s necessary to include every single nut and bolt pertaining to the project in question, proposals need to be concise.

Within this form, it’s crucial to put the total sum you’ll charge for the project to a visible place.

Since every working person on the Web wants to save as much time as possible, your clients will just skim read the proposals in the first round of their decision-making process.

If your potential client doesn’t find the price in the first few seconds, they might not even take your offer into consideration.

Therefore, make sure that your price is physically separated from the rest of the proposal text. Moreover, it should be highlighted, either in color or in bold.

Also, it’s extremely important that you include a few essential elements that set such a price.

You don’t want to look like a flea-market salesperson who just bursts out a random price for a project. On the contrary, your final price should be formed on the basis of the input materials and other resources.

Nevertheless, don’t put too many of these features in the proposal, since the client might lose their focus.

Do your homework on client’s rates

Every business bid you make on the Internet is an effort to get a job.

It will take some of your time to find a project, study its conditions and form your proposal.

Therefore, this entire procedure should be approached with utter determination to score every project you apply for.

One of the crucial steps that will improve your chances of achieving this goal is to thoroughly analyze every client and their previous rates. So, when you’ve come across a client and a project that you’d like to work on, do some research on your future associates. Most freelancing platforms allow you to get an insight into the total and average payments of their registered users.

After that, go to their website – if any – and see what they’ve been doing lately.

Also, do some research on social media by reading their posts and their clients’ comments.

All these features will help you figure out what your client is aiming for and how much they’re ready to pay for that.

Templates vs. tailored proposals

Just like there are no two identical snowflakes, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll never send the same proposal to different clients. Sending out a mere template should be avoided for a number of reasons:

  • Your client will recognize that you’ve sent them a stale, pre-set template before they get to the “Looking forward to your reply” part. How? Do you immediately know what email message is a template? Yes? That’s how. People know when you’re not addressing them personally.
  • It’s a sign of disrespect, which is a terrible way to start a business collaboration. Even if they accept your proposal, it won’t be the most comfortable project in your career.
  • A ready-made proposal will reduce your chances to score that project. As a result, the entire process will be doomed in advance. If you’re already making an effort to win a job, don’t fail on petty things.

Having said that, it’s also important to stress out the importance of developing and storing your own, internal template proposal.

Since most modern employees are niche workers, they usually encounter different variations of similar things.

Keeping a concise template from which you’ll recruit your proposals will save your time and open the door to scoring several projects at the same time.

Write your offer in plain language

Nowadays many people speak English to some extent, i.e. 375 million people as their native language and additional 1.5 billion people as their second language. However, this doesn’t mean that proposals need to look like academic essays.

No matter if your native language is English or any other language in which you maintain business correspondence with your clients, it’s imperative to use plain language for business, so stick with widely used phrases and expressions when creating your next and every other proposal.

Apart from that, feel free to ask for additional clarification when your clients use too vague descriptions in their requests.

This can only be the sign of their unawareness that such communication requires straightforward register.

Still, if you don’t understand well what they’re asking you to do, your entire proposal might come up against a brick wall (especially if you’re in the construction industry).

This gets even worse when you’ve already started working on a project and you can’t figure out some of its parts.

For all these reasons, insist on additional explanations even before you send a proposal, as well as during the time you spend working on such a project.

Avoid excessive details in proposals

When you’re writing and sending a proposal, you’re trying to sell your skills to someone who needs them.

The key word here is sell, because the sole act of selling should be stripped of any potential distractors. The excess of details in a great marketing offer can kill its greatness, making it bleak and inefficient. Because of that, your proposal should contain only the basic elements that the client is interested in.

In line with that, send them the deadline until which you can finish the project and the costs of the materials and services you’re going to be using while working on it. Also, one point should show how much you charge only for your direct work. Of course, don’t forget the aforementioned (highlighted) total sum.

Moreover, the features you include in your proposal will also depend on the type of the project. Different niches will dictate different rules.

The rule of thumb is that the sender of the proposal needs to offer the best solution to create a new product or a new service.

As the renowned executive Pat Gotto explains it for Forbes: “Don’t tell me how many bullets you’re going to shoot! How many bodies are you going to bring me?”

Focusing on the results and outputs you’re going to bring to your client will make you stand out from the crowd and win both their trust and their projects.

Opt for formal documents or sketches

The level of formality of your proposal will depend on the type of the project or the job ad.

Basically, when you’re applying for a long-term project that includes high earnings, the client will be extremely cautious about every single detail.

In such cases, writing a larger proposal is a must.

You’ll decide on the precise size of that document in collaboration with that client.

Since that proposal will consist a lot of features, it can be useful as a starting point for the estimate in that project, as well.

On the other hand, applying for a daily project or an hourly task usually demands only the deadline, a sample of your previous work and your hourly rate or the total sum.

In a nutshell, the description of your work here will be more similar to a sketch than to a formal document.

Make only feasible promises

To finish this compilation of key considerations in the proposal-writing process, it’s vital to point out that every businessperson needs to take great care of their time and workload capacity.

For instance, sending several proposals with a low total price and a near deadline will probably qualify you for a multitude of projects.

Nevertheless, such a strategy might result in having no motivation to finish a variety of projects in a short period of time.

As a result, you could be eliminated from those projects and end up with bad ratings on your public profiles.

This is why it’s imperative to think twice before you make a proposal and make only feasible business promises.

Apart from that, form a price that will motivate you to complete that project on time, applying your best skills.

Such a moderate but fair attitude to business is a guarantee that you’ll succeed in achieving your goals.

Conclusion

Every proposal is the key that might open the door to a new project.

However, finding new projects is no cakewalk, especially if you’re a new player in this game.

The lack of experience can make this process stressful and uncomfortable. This is where the set of strategies explained in this piece comes on stage.

Try using them when bidding for different projects and adapt them to your own needs.

They will help you tell the important from the trivial and present yourself in the best possible light.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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