The Winning Elements of Business Proposals

The 5 Things Successful Business Proposals Always Provide

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Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

There may be times in your small business life when your company will have to submit a business proposal to gain business from a larger corporation or government contact. But what exactly is a business proposal and what should be included?

Unlike a business plan, which is written to run your company and raise capital, a business proposal is a bid for business. The two primary types of business proposals that can win you business to grow your company are solicited and unsolicited proposals.

Solicited Business Proposals

A solicited business proposal is one that is requested by the potential client or business partner. For example, a corporation or government body seeking an outside company to fulfill a project or complete a task may choose to allow companies to bid for the business. As such, your business proposal may be drafted in response to an open bid placed on the market (e.g., a request for proposal or RFP) for which other companies will also be competing for a chance to win the contract. Solicited business proposals can also closed with the opportunity to win the business made available to only a select group of companies or perhaps just you.

Unsolicited Business Proposals

Unsolicited business proposals, on the other hand, are proposals that were not specifically requested. At some point, your small business may want to do business with a larger company or forge a joint venture.

A well-written business proposal can win the hearts and minds of your target audience.

5 Key Elements of Great Business Proposals

If you need to write a business proposal to win a bid or pitch your business to a potential client or business partner, you will need to know what should be addressed and how.

Make sure your proposal stands out by incorporating the following five elements:

  • Solutions: After you have written a lead paragraph on the company's needs and problems, follow up with a solid presentation of how your business can provide solutions. The key here is to promise solutions you can deliver.
  • Benefits: All winning business proposals clearly outline the benefits of doing business with you. If your small business can offer complete confidentiality and meet tight deadlines for instance, state it clearly in your benefits section.
  • Credibility: This is often the overlooked portion of a business proposal but all winning proposals glow with credibility. If you have worked with clients in the same field or have an award-winning business, then case studies or third-party endorsements will build credibility.
  • Samples: A business proposal with samples and evidence of your ability to deliver is vital to gaining the winning bid. A small sample of your work can show your ability to do the job.
  • Targeted Language: A winning business proposal is all about communication. Speak in a language spoken by your intended audience. If the proposal evaluators are from an engineering background or financial department, use language they would understand.

    In the end, you may not win all bids. But with a great business proposal that meets and exceeds your potential client's expectations, you should win business that best matches your company's offerings to the prospective business, which is win-win for all parties involved.

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