So you have a wonderful business idea. It could be a game-changer if things play out the way you’re hoping they might. You’ve worked hard on it, so it’s only right that it looks great when you present it to potential clients. As we all know, a well-written business proposal can open many doors.
But what is a business proposal? How to write it, and what should it include? We answered all those questions and more in our guide on how to write an effective business proposal.
This time, we will focus more on creating a branded template your company will be able to customize and reuse with various potential clients.
Let’s start from the beginning.
What to include in a business proposal template?
A necessary first step in getting your template up and running is to answer the following questions:
- Who are you, and what does your company do?
- What is the problem your client faces
- The services or products you can offer them to alleviate it
- The estimated resources (time, money, etc.) that will take to solve their problem
Another important thing to consider is your audience. You should identify the most common decision-makers you will be in touch with. That way, you can adjust your proposal template accordingly.
Once you’ve got all that figured out, it’s time to start with template formatting. We recommend following conventional proposal structures while deciding how to create a proposal template. That way, it is more likely to cover a broader range of potential clients.
So here is the order you should use.
Title and cover page
You probably think this is pretty basic advice.
But let’s not forget, we’ve been doing this for a very long time and we’ve seen how a good title and an attractive cover could make you or break your chances of the proposal converting eventually. Leaving a good first impression could mean the difference between closing a deal or leaving you on read.
That said, here are the most important elements you should add to your cover page to make customizing it easier:
- Your logo
- Your name and the name of your company
- Some room for your prospects’ name (and their business)
- The date, if needed
Adding a logo and setting a few branded colors right from the start will make your template easier to customize once you decide to turn it into an actual business proposal.
Another thing you should consider adding to your cover page is an attention-grabbing image or even an ambiance video. If you don’t have anything in your portfolio that you would like to use, you can always use Unsplash or Pexels. They have a wide range of images that are free to use and can be used for most commercial documents.
If you decide to add a title, make sure it brings value to the customer. Strong titles consist of the tangible benefit your business will get for the client.
In short, talk less about you and your product’s features and more about the benefits it brings. Who doesn’t want more customers, more free time, fewer expenses, or better results?
Table of contents
It’s time to make your proposal template scannable. Another straightforward piece of advice, but readability is pretty essential to your clients. Not to mention, it will help them skip to the most important parts if they lack time to focus on the details.
Maybe they don’t have the time to read it all in one go? Either way, adding some guidance will make your template easy to navigate.
If you’re still sending business proposals the old-fashioned way, as Word or PDF documents, a table of contents is a must, as those documents are hard to navigate as they are.
Did you take your business to the next level and started using proposal software instead? Then you already know what a good, easy-to-navigate template should look like.
In short, the executive summary will essentially be your template’s introduction. Don’t forget you’re talking to a real person, so leave some room to address them by name.
The goal of your introduction section should be to:
- Introduce your company and what it does in a concise way
- Address a previous connection to the person you’re sending a business proposal to
- Show you understood the problems they’re facing
Essentially, it should make it clear from the start what the tone in the rest of the proposal should be like. Spend some time brainstorming and make sure what you wrote will really apply to various clients.
A good executive summary shouldn’t just make the buyer continue reading your formal business proposal. It should make sure that, even if the client doesn’t read the rest of it all, they will still have a clear idea of what you’re offering.
Leave some room to make a connection to the meeting or a phone call you’ve had with the client; This will give you a chance to explain further that you understood the problem they’re facing. It will also show you did your homework instead of just sending a generic pitch.
It’s time for my favorite “Here is what we can do for you” section. Take it as the perfect opportunity to present the services you’re offering in greater detail.
It is important to keep in mind you’re creating a proposal template. That means you will still have to customize it for different clients.
What that doesn’t mean is to be stingy with the details, just that you should leave some room for addressing a specific client’s pain points.
If you see fit, add some “as you mentioned during our meeting” or “as we spoke before” to your template. That will remind you to stay on track and focus on the solution you’re providing to your clients. This will also remind them of the conversation you had and how they felt about the idea at the time.
Or as we at Better Proposals like to call it, the “plan of action” section. Make sure it answers some of the following questions:
- How long does it usually take you to deliver your products or services?
- How soon after your client accepts the business proposal can you start?
- Will there be any maintenance needed or included?
These questions are usually what the clients are most interested in. After the pricing, of course. Adding the answers to your template will simplify your proposal creation. It will give a clear insight into the timeline and help manage your clients’ expectations.
We understand you can’t always set the exact dates. But, even an estimate will allow you to prove further just how prepared you are.
Nowadays, reviews are everything. Whether you’re looking for a place to go on vacation or you’re making a simple purchase, you will look up a review first.
So what makes you think closing a deal is any different?
Your clients will want verification that you can solve their problem, and often your word won’t be enough.
That’s what verified client stories are for. Go through your reviews, pick a favorite one and extend it into a case study. Add it to your proposal template, and you will instantly have a whole section ready to go.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have any reviews you could use, don’t worry! Change it into a “Qualifications” section and go above and beyond in presenting yourself as a credible business.
Our research shows this is the section most clients skip directly to. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as we all want to know how much something will cost us and if we can afford it.
The first thing you should do is get rid of the “pricing” title. If this job taught us anything, it’s that people prefer to hear the word “investment.” They want to know something they’re paying for will result in benefits for themselves and their businesses.
The second key to a good pricing section is to offer your client options. This is something our multiple pricing tables can help with. Give your clients some options to work with and add different packages, quantities, or discounts. However, don’t overcomplicate.
Write down the list of services you’re offering along with their prices. Add them to your template, and just pick and choose between them while creating an actual proposal.
If you’re struggling with naming your products or services, simply use some of the service name generators. Keep in mind the name should be clear and simple, as confusing your customers often turns into losing them.
Another awesome thing you can do is offer up-sell options. They are a great way to tone things down if you’re worried about scaring off your client. Just make sure you don’t undersell yourself in the process.
The acceptance and digital signatures
Sometimes your customers need a little guidance. They’ve reached the end of your business proposal, and they’re ready to buy what you’re selling them. But how do they do that? Do they call you? Write you back? Will you call them?
To avoid losing customers in the final seconds, we’re suggesting adding the “next steps” section.
This is the part where you add up to 5 bullet points with information about what follows.
That way, your clients will know the exact order of things after they sign the business offer.
Another thing to consider is adding the digital signature section. It’s a small box that your client can use to sign, give their digital consent, and make things official.
The digital signature feature integrated into your template is so much more than a cool way of signing stuff. It’s a fast and efficient way of exchanging documents. It makes them legally binding worldwide, offers an extra layer of security, and avoids dreadful printing and scanning.
Terms and conditions, contracts, and legal
It’s time to shed some light on the legal part of your proposal template. Adding terms and conditions to the end of your proposal is a smart way to protect yourself (and your client) in any given situation.
Instead of wasting time searching for the right documents on your computer, simply dedicate a section of your template to the legal stuff.
That way, your T&C section will stay consistent across all your proposals. If you’re a seasoned professional, you may already have contracts, T&C, or other legal documents prepared.
If you don’t, we recommend consulting legal professionals.
However, we understand that may not always be an option, so we reviewed the top 5 T&C generators. You know, so you don’t have to. 😉
Last but not least, you need an email to go with your corporate proposal document. Consider it a short, personalized message that will introduce the business proposal in the attachment. Be sure to include your contact information in case your clients have any additional questions.
We’ve covered the basics of creating a short business proposal template. There are still many other details to pay attention to, from thorough spell check to attractive design.
Depending on the type of business you’re in, you may want to include the team page, videos, or even integrate a live chat, so your clients can pop a quick message while reading the proposal.
So what are you waiting for? Take action today and start creating templates that will grow your business.
If the steps above sound too complicated or detailed, don’t worry! Just visit our Template Library and choose one of the prewritten, fully editable proposal templates that will make signing new deals a breeze!