How to Write a Proposal and Get What You Want (Free Templates)
✅ Bonus material: Simple Proposal Format Template + Checklist to help you get started ASAP!
A proposal has a lot of different purposes, but there’s only one good way to write one: the way that pulls together all of the information in a concise and persuasive way and helps you get what you want … whether that’s a whole new software system, or just a tweak to your marketing strategy.
This Process Street article isn’t about a business proposal — also known as a quote — but instead about the document required when formally pitching an idea for action and execution by managers or department heads .
To explain how to write a proposal document and get what you want, we’ll go through the following:
Free proposal writing template
When are proposals necessary, why are proposals important, examples of proposals, how to write a proposal: step-by-step, last steps before submitting the proposal, more free proposal writing checklists, even more free proposal writing checklists, customize your proposal checklists with process street.
Let’s get started.
If you fancy taking a quick look at a free interactive template, that will help you write your proposals right away, feel free to dive straight into this!
Writing a Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide
There are more templates, like this one, further down in this post, so stick around.
Any project you don’t have the clearance or authority to start without a higher-up’s approval, you need to submit a proposal for.
According to SSWM , a proposal is “a detailed description of a series of activities aimed at solving a certain problem”.
That problem could be anything, from:
- Process improvement
- Cost reduction
- A new marketing strategy
If it’s an idea you need to ask permission to execute, or to get action on, it needs a proposal.
A proposal is a way to pitch an idea and state your requirements, so it’s important for supervisors because they can get information in writing (not casually in the elevator), and be able to act knowing the full implications of their decision.
They’re also a chance for you to make a structured, logical argument and lay down everything in favor of your idea. A well-written proposal shows your manager you care about the cause, and it’s not just a mid-meeting whim you blurted out.
To write a top proposal you need to scrutinize it before you present it.
It’s a broad topic, but it’s best explained with examples.
- Proposal for Process Improvement
- Proposal for Server Replacement
- Proposal for Cost Savings
Below is a simple proposal example with some basic sections.
Now let’s take a look at how to write a proposal — whether it’s as simple as the one above, or more complex.
Here’s the general structure of a proposal:
As you can see, a proposal generally consists of:
- Introduction : A brief overview of the problem, solution, costs, and benefits.
- Issue : The main definition of the issue, including subject, purpose, main argument, background information and importance.
- Solution : The main definition of the solution, including your step-by-step plan, the benefits, and how potential obstacles will be overcame.
- Qualifications : Overview of the personnel required, experience.
- Conclusion of the costs and benefits, and wrap-up : Balance the cost against the benefit, reinforce your point one last time.
1. Identify and define your reader
Just like with any kind of persuasion, it helps if you understand how to appeal to your audience. Who will be reading your proposal and deciding if it’s accepted or rejected? What do they care about? What kind of language and benefits would resonate with them? This is the first step because it’s an important thing to keep in mind as you go along and as information that informs the way you write from here on.
2. Define the problem your proposal will solve
Who : Who will the proposal affect?
What : What’s the reason for you to write the proposal in the first place? Explain the current situation and the problems that come with it.
3. Define the solution
How : How are you going to solve the problem? Explain step-by-step in detail.
Who : Identify the personnel you need, along with their prior experience to add persuasion to the proposal
4. Conclusion: costs, benefits and wrap-up
Reiterate : The purpose and main argument
Costs : Break down the projected costs involved for different elements of the project
Benefits : Break down the benefits to the organization, monetary and non-monetary, to persuade the reader there’ll be a return on investment
Thanks : Thank the reader for their time.
Contact information : Where can the reader get in touch with you? Make sure to be crystal clear to make the details easily discoverable.
Clear writing is your best friend when you’re trying to write persuasively. For that reason, there are a few checks to run before you submit your proposal.
Remember, what’s clear to you might not always be clear to other people.
1 .Check for jargon (then destroy it)
Although jargon is popular in the business world, not everyone shares the equal love for it. It’s terms like right-size, blue sky (verb), turn-key, and synergize. They might mean something to you, or make you feel intelligent, but there are simpler alternatives that will help people understand what you mean !
2. Change the passive voice to the active voice
The passive voice is defined as :
“The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of an active sentence (such as Our troops defeated the enemy) appears as the subject of a sentence with passive voice (e.g. The enemy was defeated by our troops).”.
It’s a long-winded way of expressing something that could be expressed in simple terms:
The passive voice sounds distant and even deceptive, and, since the reader might even just be skimming your proposal, you don’t want to add extra words to cloud your point.
3. Proofread the proposal
Install a tool like Grammarly and check the proposal in an online text editor. Grammarly will manage to pick up on anything that is grammatically incorrect and sometimes even flags up stylistically poor phrases. Poor spelling and grammar will only discredit the value of what you’re saying and could be a problem that leads to your proposal being rejected.
As promised, check out the below five templates that have each been designed by the team at Process Street — makers of the finest remote work software for processes around — to help you write winning proposals.
Proposal Template Checklist Process
This proposal template is a checklist that should be used alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit. Use it to make sure that all the elements have been considered, that the proposal contains everything it needs to and that it meets all set requirements.
Click here to access the Proposal Template Checklist Process!
Business Proposal Template Checklist
Whether your business proposal is solicited or unsolicited, use this business proposal template checklist to ensure you include all the required information in your proposal and cover key areas such as these the problem the organization is facing, the proposed solution, the budget, and a key CTA.
Click here to access the Business Proposal Template Checklist!
How to Write a Grant Proposal Checklist
Use this template to make sure your grant proposal includes all the relevant information, that it contains everything it needs to, and that it meets all stated RFP requirements.
Click here to access the How to Write a Grant Proposal Checklist!
Research Proposal Example Checklist
Use this template to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.
Click here to access the Research Proposal Example Checklist!
Project Proposal Template Checklist
Use this template, alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit, to set the project vision, define the project requirements, describe the deliverables, and specify the deadlines.
Click here to access the Project Proposal Template Checklist!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, give these alternative proposal writing templates a go too.
- Bid Proposal Template Checklist
- Budget Proposal Template
- Construction Proposal Template Checklist
- Consulting Proposal Template Checklist
- Continuation Project Proposal Template
- Contractor Proposal Template Checklist
- Event Proposal Template Checklist
- Marketing Proposal Template Checklist
- Project Proposal Template
- Renewal Project Proposal Template
- Simple Proposal Format Checklist
- Sponsorship Proposal Template Checklist
- Supplemental Project Proposal Template
- Website Proposal Template Checklist
If the above templates don’t quite fit your company, industry, or the proposal document you are writing, don’t worry!
Process Street to the rescue!
Process Street is super-powered checklists . We are a super-charged, state of the art BPM SaaS platform which allows you to create templates and run individual checklists from these. You can check tasks off as you work through them, set deadlines, request approvals, assign various tasks , and work through your proposal workflows with ease.
Watch this to get an idea about who we are and what we do:
To help you customize your proposal writing template, and make your proposal wriitng easier, you can use all these different types of Process Street features:
- Dynamic due dates
- Task permissions
- Conditional logic
- Approval tasks
- Embed widget
- Role assignments
You can also connect your templates to thousands of apps through Zapier , webhooks, or API access to automate your proposal processes and workflows.
If you’re unfamiliar with process automation, what it means, and the benefits it can bring to your business, watch this Process Street webinar on automation:
Remember, if you want to get access to any of our proposal writing checklists, just click the links above and they will be added to your Process Street account where you can use them over and over again. Or, if you haven’t yet signed up for a Process Street account, click here and start your free trial.
Has this guide helped you out? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street , and runs Secret Cave on the side. Find him on Twitter here .
I am strongly looking forward to learning how to write a proposal, thanks
Thanks Honar, it’s an honor to have you here 😉
I am looking forward to learning how to write a great proposal. Thanks for posting this site.
Practice makes perfect, just keep it up and you will get there!
Looking forward for you to checklist and using it to edit my proposal…. thx a lot
Awesome, and remember you can sign up for a free account for life, no credit card required to run up to 5 checklists for proposals or anything else!. Check out more about Process Street here: http://process.st/product/
I really loved your paper on how to write a proposal. I looked up others and found total satisfaction when I came across yours! Thanks again Tanya Palacios
We are very pleased to hear that.
thanks a lot for helping me understand proposal writing more clearly. Am very grateful.
Of course, proposal writing can be tricky, but if you follow the templates we provide you will quickly see it’s not that difficult. Proposals follow the same structure most of the time, once you learn that structure it’s easy to create proposals quickly.
Very nice and excellent advice and coaching on proposals writing. I will always keep in touch for more information.
Excellent writing Benjamin. Definitely agree with the destroying jargons part. There’s no need for these kinds of words for project proposals. Anyway, here’s an informative step-by-step guide that I’d like to share regarding writing project proposals: https://www.freenvoices.com/how-to-write-project-proposal . I believe that this will complement your well-written article and your readers too. 🙂
Great post Evatt, thanks for sharing!
I am in the process of drafting a proposal for a multi-million deal. Looking forward to getting pointers to make my proposal a seller!
After reading your post,it now became crystal clear that proposals are not easy…But thanks alot. You’re a good teacher
Hey Vitalis, yes they take some practice but you will get there. Just keep it up!
i want to write proposal for study PhD but i dont know how to write it can you send to me example thank you very much best regards
Hi Mays, There’s some good advice here in regards to writing a PhD proposal: https://www.findaphd.com/advice/finding/writing-phd-research-proposal.aspx
My personal advice would be to really demonstrate strength when outlining your methodology. This section is a great opportunity to display deep knowledge of methodological approaches and their academic grounding. Make sure to cite the foundational texts for the approach you want to take and to reference current academic discussions pertinent to your particular application of that approach. If you can find a recently published PhD thesis which takes a similar methodological approach to you own then you can read through their methodology section to give yourself both inspiration and a great starting point for building a methodology reading list for yourself.
Best of luck!
Además, asimismo desarrolla otros proyectos de formación en línea sobre marketing digital y nuevas tecnologías con la finalidad de instruir a emprendedores de qué forma crear un proyecto digital para vender sus conocimientos.
Your blog is very informative. Nice you tried to provide a crystal clear information on this topic!
Nice one, at least have got an idea now about proposal writing
Appreciate the guidelines on how to write an explicit formal proposal.
You are most welcome Ogoh, we’d love any feedback you may have in the future!
Appreciate for providing knowledge on proposal writing
I’m really happy to learn from this paper.I’ve increased my knowledge in proposal writing.Thanks
Wow! You’re really doing a nice work, really haven’t got it detailed and simplified before.
Nice job. I am a professional proposal writer in lagos Nigeria and I must confess that you have done a good job on this article. I learnt a few new things. Keep up the god work
Thanks Mr Sam, always good to have the support of an expert.
the explanation is very complete I am happy to be able to find articles on various types of letters and I can learn here thanks for all the articles
We tried our best Zaki, thanks for the kind words
nice suggestions. thanks
Thanx for the great work U have done towards my exprienc on Proposal writing.May God bless U.
You did a great job in outlining all the nitty-gritty of writing a great proposal in this article. Kudos!
Thank for sharing this knowledge
It was a pleasure!
Write a comment…great work but I need a proposal on how to start car wash business inside school
Thank you for the little experience I have achieved on proposal writing. Can you give me a broad idea on a proposal I wan to write, I want to do a Clean City proposal…
Hey Darious, check out these posts we wrote on sustainability: https://www.process.st/corporate-sustainability/ https://www.process.st/sustainable-business/
so grateful for the information.
Very happy to learn how to write a proposal from you.
Very happy to help you 🙂
Very informative, really appreciated your expertise. I learned quite a bit. Thank you, I’m all set, also number two (2.) Change the passive voice to the active voice is something for me to remember when I’m writing.
Yes that’s a great tip!
It is really great, I would like to know more about writing a great proposal about enhancing bank customer service
Sounds like an important project, you might also enjoy this post: https://www.process.st/enterprise-risk-management/
I sincerely appreciate you for this brilliant presentation. I still need to know more about the solicited proposals. Thanks!
I would like to know how to write a good proposal .
I’m looking forward to be the best in writing proposal, in the organization
Good luck with your endeavors Paul!
I want to learn how to write project proposals
I have an idea of how to write the proposal but would am unsure and would rather see what the experts have to say about it. Thanks!
I want to write a proposal to get a generator for my hospital as a back up
This piece has given me a clearer understanding on how to and what to look out for in writing a proposal. But I will be more grateful if u can give me a template and points on how to write a proposal to a state government to train their young people on drug abuse and how to minimize the current menace it is causing to our society. Thanks, it was a nice experience.
Glad to hear you liked it. We don’t have any templates specific to that use case, but we will look to create some more soon. Cheers, Adam
Glad you enjoyed the experience 🙂
Thanks very much for the well explained presentation.
Hello. This is very good and helpful, I need help to write a proposal for freelancing and content writing. Thanks
I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but we have an article here about pitching to TechCrunch: https://www.process.st/write-for-techcrunch/
I hope it helps!
You are most welcome!
I never knew on how to write a proposal but now I have got something from you thank you. But I would like an example of a professional proposal …… as for me am writing a proposal on the need to make clubs for youth of East Africa based science, technology and arts plz I need it very soon even today
We don’t currently have any examples for you, but we are working on a set of processes to follow to help people write proposals like these. It should be published in a few weeks.
For the time being, perhaps look at what different organizations say they want. Here are a few examples from the UK:
– Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action (CAVA) have this document where they ask people to send them proposals to start youth programmes. They explain what they are looking for and how they will judge the proposal.
– Here is another example but this time from an organization in Manchester, UK. This has instructions and requirements, and you can use its specifications as inspiration for how to create your proposal.
I hope some of this makes the proposal writing process clearer.
Best of luck, Adam
This may also help: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
Good luck with your proposal Naomi! Sounds like it’s for a great cause..
Thats great. I have learned alot thanks.
I need to know how to write a proposal writing. Can u give an example plzz…..
Hi Sapioamoa, you can find a collection of examples here: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
I hope this helps! Adam
i thank you for that and now i am requesting for help, i am a student first year and my ambition is to help the orphans i would like you to help me how to write a proposal of that kind. thank you.
Hey Deo. It sounds like you’re doing great work. Check out these proposal templates . They should help you!
thank you so much sir
Living in a rural setting in Uganda- am writing a proposal to ask for financial donations to buy agricultural inputs, medical assistance etc for my community- this website has helped to put ideas together and to hopefully come out with a winner! Thank you!.
That’s great to hear we’ve been able to help! Best of luck Catherine!
am very greatful to receive such an skillful knowledge from you,but may i pls receive a sample of how to write a proposal for starting a small scale printing firm just in kenya.
thank you in advance
Thanks for the kind comment, Elijah. You might be able to find some more useful information in our most recent article about proposals (with lots more templates) here: https://www.process.st/proposal-template/
Nice one. Thanks for this.
Glad to hear it helped, Deji!
Glad you enjoyed this, Lillian! ⭐️
This is what i was looking for so long. Thanks for summing up all these informations about how to write a proposal. I’m really glad that you add these free template 🙂
Awesome, glad you enjoyed the templates. Was there a particular one that you found most helpful?
Are you still free to give feedback? Happy New Year btw.
Sure we are here to give feedback! Just leave your question about proposal writing in the comments and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
I feel this is among the most vital information for me.
And i’m glad reading your article. But want to statement on few normal things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is truly excellent : D. Excellent activity, cheers
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Hi,have learned a lot from you,could you please help me to write a proposal how to spend on projects in a christian organization Thanks
Not sure how that would be any different, but if you have a specific question about writing proposals I’d be happy to answer it 🙂
Thanks sir for your post. I’am very greatful to receive such an skillful knowledge from you
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- How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on January 3, 2023.
A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.
The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:
- Research design
While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.
Table of contents
Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions about research proposals.
Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .
In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.
Research proposal length
The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.
One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.
Download our research proposal template
Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.
- Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
- Example research proposal #2: “Making Healthy Connections: Mentoring, Monitoring and Measurement”
- Example research proposal #3: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”
What can proofreading do for your paper?
Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words, and awkward phrasing.
See editing example
Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:
- The proposed title of your project
- Your supervisor’s name
- Your institution and department
The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.
Your introduction should:
- Introduce your topic
- Give necessary background and context
- Outline your problem statement and research questions
To guide your introduction , include information about:
- Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
- How much is already known about the topic
- What is missing from this current knowledge
- What new insights your research will contribute
- Why you believe this research is worth doing
As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.
In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:
- Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
- Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
- Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship
Following the literature review, restate your main objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.
To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.
For example, your results might have implications for:
- Improving best practices
- Informing policymaking decisions
- Strengthening a theory or model
- Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
- Creating a basis for future research
Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .
Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.
Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.
Download our research schedule template
If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.
Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:
- Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
- Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
- Source : how did you calculate the amount?
To determine your budget, think about:
- Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
- Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
- Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?
Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .
Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.
I will compare …
A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.
Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.
A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.
A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.
A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.
All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.
Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.
Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.
The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.
Cite this Scribbr article
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McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, January 03). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/
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How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates)
By Aditya Sheth , Nov 21, 2022
The great Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” If a business doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make money and by extension the business fails. That’s why you need to write business proposals.
A well-written business proposal can often mean the difference between winning or losing a prospective client.
In this in-depth guide to creating business proposals, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals — all by using easy-to-edit professional business proposal templates.
Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):
What is a business proposal, what should you include in a business proposal, business proposal format, what are the types of business proposals.
- How do you write a business proposal? Business proposal templates
More business proposal examples + writing and design tips
- FAQs about business proposals
Looking for a shortcut? Watch this quick video for an overview of everything to include in your business proposal:
An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.
A business proposal outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client. It can be general like this business proposal example:
Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:
Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:
To design a business proposal that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points . Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.
Return to Table of Contents
A business proposal usually aims to answer the following questions:
- Who you are and what your company does
- The problem your buyer is facing
- The solution your company offers to alleviate the problem
- How your company will implement this solution effectively
- An estimate of resources (time, money, etc) required to implement the solution
You can see how this sample business proposal template covers the above points.
Notice how this proposal template addresses the same project like in one of the previous templates, but uses a completely different design style (more retro, while the previous business proposal template is more modern and minimalistic).
You can remove or add more sections depending on the goal of your business proposal. Essential, your business proposal can follow this format:
Table of contents
Executive summary, the problem statement, the proposed solution, qualifications, the timeline, pricing, billing and legal, terms and conditions, the acceptance.
We go into detail on how you can write a business proposal (plus different business proposal templates you can apply the tips to) in the next section . But you can also click on the format items above to learn how you can best write them!
If you aim to create a holistic business proposal, feel free to just edit from the two templates right above. You can also add your brand colors and logo to your design, using My Brand Kit :
Here’s another example of a business proposal template that you can edit:
Generally, there are three types of business proposals:
1. Formally solicited
A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal.
In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer. You simply need to write the business proposal for your buyer to evaluate so you can begin the sales process.
2. Informally solicited
Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn’t an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and asks for a proposal so they can evaluate it.
An informally solicited proposal requires a lot more research from your end. These types of proposals are usually created out of informal conversations. They are not based on official requests which often contain more detail.
Think of this as a marketing brochure or a cold email . Unsolicited business proposals will often take a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to business proposals. Unsolicited proposals lack any understanding of the buyer or their requirements.
But with additional market research , personalization and identifying customer pain points , you can propose a customized solution based on your buyer’s needs. This can be a very persuasive approach, such as in this business proposal example:
How do you write a business proposal? Business proposal templates
Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to know what it comprises. At a high level your effective business proposal should include the following:
Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.
Business proposal title
A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring it in favor of a competitor’s.
What makes a good title page? Here are the essential elements to include:
- Your name along with your company’s name
- The name of the prospect (or their business)
- The date you’re submitting the proposal
The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know. The title also offers a strong tangible benefit to the prospective buyer. Honestly, “Who doesn’t want to grow their business?”
Return to business proposal content sections
The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes your proposal scannable and easy to read.
The people you will be pitching to are usually C-level executives. These are busy people who don’t have time to read your entire proposal in one go.
That’s why most of the business proposal examples in this list include a table of contents.
Adding a table of contents to your document makes it easy for them to go through it at their own pace. They can also skim through parts of the proposal that they deem more important. You can see how this abstract business proposal template uses the table of contents:
You can also make your business proposal template easier to navigate by adding hyperlinks to the document, particularly in the table of contents. This way your clients can jump to specific sections without having to scroll through the entire document.
It’s easy to add hyperlinks in the Venngage editor. Select the text you’d like to turn into a link, then click the link icon in the top bar. From there, select the page you want to link to! Then download your completed design as an Interactive PDF .
The executive summary is a staple in all kinds of annual reports , project plans and even marketing plans . It is a concise summary of the entire contents of your document. In other words, write a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over and that highlights your value proposition.
The goals of your executive summary are:
- Introduce your company to your buyer
- Provide an overview of your company goals
- Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
- Include any other relevant details
This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with:
Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go. This sets the right tone for the rest of your proposal. It also gives your buyer a reason to continue reading your proposal.
Pro Tip: Try to write an executive summary such that, even if your prospective client doesn’t read the entire proposal (with a good executive summary, they most likely will), they should have a clear idea about what your company does and how you can help them.
The point of writing a business proposal is to solve a buyer’s problem. Your goal is to outline the problem statement as clearly as possible. This develops a sense of urgency in your prospect. They will want to find a solution to the problem. And you have that solution.
A well-defined problem statement does two things:
- It shows the prospect you have done your homework instead of sending a generic pitch
- It creates an opportunity for you to point out a problem your prospect might not be aware they had in the first place.
This bold business proposal template above clearly outlines the problem at hand and also offers a ray of hope i.e. how you can solve your prospect’s problem. This brings me to…
The good stuff. In the proposed solution section, you show how you can alleviate your prospective buyer’s pain points. This can fit onto the problem statement section but if you have a comprehensive solution or prefer to elaborate on the details, a separate section is a good idea.
Spare no details regarding the solution you will provide. When you write a business proposal, explain how you plan to deliver the solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and other relevant details.
For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics :
At this point, the prospect you’re pitching your solution to likes what they’re reading. But they may not trust you to deliver on your promises. Why is this?
It’s because they don’t know you. Your job is to convince them that you can fix their problem. This section is important because it acts as social proof. You can highlight what your company does best and how qualified your team is when you write a business proposal for a potential client.
This free business proposal template showcases the company’s accolades, client testimonials, relevant case studies, and industry awards. You can also include other forms of social proof to establish yourself as a credible business. This makes it that much more likely that they will say yes!
Pro Tip: Attaching in-depth case studies of your work is a great way to build trust with a potential client by showcasing how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients in the past. Our case study examples post can show you how to do just that.
To further demonstrate just how prepared you are, it’s important to outline the next steps you will take should your buyer decide to work with you.
Provide a timeline of how and when you will complete all your deliverables. You can do this by designing a flow chart . Or add a roadmap with deadlines. Pitching a long-term project? A timeline infographic would be a better fit.
If you look at this abstract business proposal template below, even something as simple as a table can do the trick.
The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your potential client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.
On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal.
The key to good pricing is to provide your buyer with options. A pricing comparison table can help with this. You want to give your client some room to work with. Make sure you’re not scaring off your client with a high price, nor undervaluing yourself.
Breaking up your pricing in stages is another great way to make sure your potential client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:
The legal aspects can slot right into the terms and conditions section. Alternatively, you can add them in the signature section of the proposal to keep things simple.
Summarize everything you have promised to deliver so far. Include what you expect from your prospective buyer in return. Add the overall project timeline from start to end, as well as payment methods and payment schedule. This way, both of you will be clear on what is being agreed on.
This step is very important as it outlines all the legal aspects of the deal. That is why the terms and conditions section of your proposal needs to be as clear as possible.
I recommend consulting a lawyer or your legal team when working on this section of the business proposal. If you’re a business veteran and understand the legalities of your business, you can use the same terms and conditions across all your proposals.
The final step of this whole process. Your client has read your business proposal and they want to buy what you have to offer.
Add a small section at the end of your proposal to get the necessary signatures. This way, you and your client can sign the proposal and the partnership becomes official.
Be sure to also include your contact information in your business proposal template. It acts as a gentle prompt to your client to contact you in case they have any questions.
Now that you know how to write a business proposal, let’s look at how you can optimize your proposal to deliver results!
Below you’ll find some winning business proposal templates and examples to get you started. I’ve also included some design tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your next business proposal:
1. Know your audience
If you have some clarity on who your ideal buyer is — their pain points, their budget, deadlines, among other things — you’ve already won half the battle.
If you are a business that helps clients with everything from running giveaways or helping grow their blog , identify which customers to pitch. This is a sure-shot way to close the deal.
Mapping user personas for your ideal buyer can help bring some clarity. It will also help you position your business proposal correctly. This improves the chance of your buyer moving your business proposal to the “Yes!” pile.
2. Put your brand front and center
If your company follows certain brand guidelines, incorporate them in your business proposal templates. Consider how business proposal examples like the one below highlight brand identity:
From the color palettes to the company logos , everything follows their brand guidelines. The result: a business proposal that’s consistent across the board.
Pro Tip: Switching this template to match your brand assets is actually pretty easy. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature allows you to import your color palettes, logos as well as font choices. Any Venngage template can now be your template.
You can also consider this sample business proposal template:
Design companies sure do know their design. They did a phenomenal job keeping their brand colors consistent while opting for a black design. This unique color scheme also makes their white logo prominent throughout the proposal.
3. Try less text, more visuals
Have you ever read a proposal and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is all text and has no images, I love it!”? Yeah, me neither.
The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the “less is more” principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that’s much more scannable.
Want to keep things strictly professional? Instead of icons, you can always add your team’s headshots. This shows your buyer exactly who they’ll be working with.
Check out this formal business proposal format for some inspiration:
4. Switch up your business proposal designs
It doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond once in a while. Jazz up your business proposal template with some extra colors. This helps make your business proposal more engaging. It also helps your buyers retain information faster.
The business proposal example alternates between black, white and grey backgrounds. It still manages to maintain consistency in its branding . Just switching up your backgrounds once in a while can also bring in some variety to an otherwise standard business proposal.
This SEO business proposal sample proves that it’s possible to switch up the colors in every other page. But it still maintains the same color scheme across the entire proposal just like a professionally designed website :
Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.
FAQ about business proposals
What is the purpose of a business proposal.
Essentially, a business proposal aims to streamline the B2B sales process (which is often complex) between you as a seller and a buyer.
It does this by serving the dual purpose of acting as a source of information. The proposal also acts as a sales pitch aimed at convincing your buyer why they should buy what you have to offer.
What are the best practices for business proposal design?
- Do a thorough spell-check. The goal of your business proposal is to convince your buyer why you’re the perfect person for the job. A proposal with typos or grammatical errors communicates the opposite. A thorough spell-check before you send your proposal is a must.
- Let your brand shine. As discussed before, writing a business proposal is all about knowing your ideal buyer and focusing on their pain points. But that doesn’t mean your business proposal template has to be boring. Demonstrate how different you are compared to other companies. You can do this through your brand guidelines, by using more visuals, switching up your proposal design or showing off your personality in your writing.
- Download your business proposal as a PDF. This allows you to attach other collaterals with your business proposal. These can include a company explainer video or case studies showcasing the work done with past clients. Also, who doesn’t love saving paper?
How long should your business proposal be?
The length depends on the scope of the work as well as the complexity of the project. Here is a one-page business proposal template:
Can your business proposal template really be one page? Yes, as long as you understand who your buyer is and their pain points. You should also have the ability to communicate everything your ideal buyer needs to know about your business in a succinct manner.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous how about just two pages? Often, clients prefer if you go straight to the point and avoid all the fluff.
For example, this green modern marketing proposal template wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks:
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding how many pages you should include in your business proposal template. And at the end of the day, “the only rules are the ones you set for yourself”.
At the end of the day, writing winning business proposals that sell is all about you understanding your buyer, their potential pain points and positioning yourself as someone who can alleviate those pain points.
Now that you know how to write compelling business proposals, what are you waiting for?
Take action and start creating your own business proposals to close more deals and grow your business today!
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How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]
This proposal template is a checklist that should be used alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit. Use it to make sure that all the elements have been considered, that the proposal contains everything it needs to and that it meets all set requirements.
Proposals are produced for many different purposes, but they can be split into two categories: solicited and unsolicited.The solicited proposal usually begins with a request for a proposal (RFP). Many companies will use an RFP template to give potential suppliers details of what they are looking for in a bid.
Business proposal templates Business proposal title. A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring... Table of contents. The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes... Executive summary. The ...