How to Write a Proposal. Examples and Templates for Your Proposal
What is the project proposal?
A project proposal (sometimes referred to as a business proposal) is a written document sent to prospective sponsors from a seller. The proposal contains vital information about the initial project, defines objectives and goals, and includes timeline, budget, and work conditions and requirements.
The project proposal functions as an official document between the company and the client.
Why do you need a project proposal?
The main goal of writing the project proposal is to get the client to buy your services. While writing the proposal, you need to think like your client and know what they need and want.
A good project proposal will help you:
- win new clients;
- extend an existing contract;
- convince investors (managers, boss) to allocate resources to support the project.
Types of project proposal
Formally solicited. A business proposal is sent as a response to an official request. In that case, a client submits a request for proposal (RFP) and provides the guideline. So you know all the necessary information about the potential buyer and write proposal for further evaluation to proceed with the sales process.
Informally solicited. Informally solicited project proposals do not respond to an official request. Usually, a written proposal results from an informal conversation when a prospective buyer shows interest in your business. As long as there is no official request, an informally solicited proposal requires thorough research from you, and the process of writing can be longer.
Unsolicited. When you prepare an unsolicited proposal, there is no request at all. In that way, you are reaching out to a prospective buyer. You can compare this type of project proposal with a cold email or brochure.
How to write proposals?
When writing a proposal, remember that your goal is to present the value of the project to the potential buyer. Break down the writing process into sections which also can work as the structure for your proposal template. A premade proposal template can drastically simplify the process of writing proposals. It is a ready-to-use pattern that already has significant information included and needs a little editing.
Usually, project proposal templates are divided into standard parts. You can find lots of free proposal templates and adapt them for your needs. A typical project proposal template includes the following elements:
- Title sheet
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Problem statement
- Approach and solution
- Terms and conditions
The proposal template checklist
The above list can serve as a proposal template checklist. Before writing the actual proposal, writing checklists could be a practical preparation step.
You can use the mentioned checklist for any business proposal template. Depending on the request, you can add or remove some details from the template. If you are unsure what should be included in the proposal, use the client’s questions as a guideline.
We know it is a lot to keep in mind. That’s why the best option of keeping track of everything is by following the proposal template checklist. Writing checklists helps organizing the process and makes sure you don’t miss anything important.
If you have difficulties creating checklists, try using software like Process Street. Process Street is great for writing proposal checklist templates, managing repetitive tasks, creating individual lists.
Writing project proposal
Write proposal as an essay and follow the checklist removing points from the list. Your business proposal should have a logical sequence and answer the buyer's questions.
Start writing your project proposal template with the title page. What to reflect on the title page?
- Your name and the name of your business/company.
- The name of your potential client.
- Date of submitting the proposal.
Table of contents
Continue proposal with the table of contents. The table of contents makes the proposal easy to read. It makes it simpler for the buyer to go through the text at their own pace, or mak it straight to the most critical parts. Help your clients to navigate easier by adding hyperlinks to the template in the contents section.
Write a coherent executive summary. It is vital that you make the proposal exciting and engaging for the reader from the first words.
After reading this section, your client should have a clear idea of how you can help them.
The executive summary writing checklist:
- company overview and company's goals;
- your vision and plans;
- background of the problem your project solves;
- approach to problem-solving.
- outcomes and results.
Remember, this is an introductory part. It would be best if you adequately delivered an idea of the project without too many details. There are other parts in the proposal template to share more concrete information on the problem and its solving techniques.
However, you should be precise and show value to the client. For instance, do not just write that your company "is the leading" or "#1 in the industry". Prepare some real examples of what and how you can help the client. Let's assume your project objective is to create unique visual content for the client's portfolio. Describe why you are better than your competitor and what custom services you offer that match the client's pain point.
Your goal here is to attract the attention of a client and retain his interest.
What is the problem, and how it affects the client’s business? Define this as straightforward as possible. This part and the following “solution” section of any project proposal template are the essential parts.
What are the main points here?
Research and extra thought. You need to show that you did your homework, dig into the problem background, and present your perspective. Frame it in a way that smoothly brings the proposal to the solution part.
Approach and solution
Discuss why your solution is the best option for solving the client’s problem. Introduce your strategies and explain “why” you are making these exact decisions to complete the project.
The project proposal should answer most of the questions your client will probably have. Include all the relevant details that are addressed to the problem. Show the plan on how you will deliver the solution, estimate the timeline, outlines, deliverables, and, more importantly, the outcomes.
It is not likely the potential buyer will take just your word. Give them proof right in the proposal, share your qualifications and successful projects. Provide numbers and statistics and include some social proof.
Highlight how qualified your team is. The project proposal should verify your professionalism. In a good business proposal template, you need to have sufficient proof.
You can copy the qualification part from one proposal template to another.
Give a clear understanding of what and when will be done by your team. You should clarify the further steps for clients to expect if they decide to initiate the project.
Visualize the content, use infographics, charts, or tables. You don’t need to allot the specific dates, but divide the deliverables by weeks of completion.
This part of the project proposal template defines fees and payment terms. The more details you provide, the better.
A good trick is using a fee comparison table in the template. As long as you don’t want to scare away the buyer with high prices, and undervalue your job, provide pricing options. The client will be able to choose the best price.
Terms and conditions
Summarize everything you described earlier in the proposal and outline legal aspects of the contract. This template section may include the start and end dates, payment details, contingency plan. We recommend using a lawyer when outlining terms and conditions for your proposal. Once you create a working pattern, you can use it for future project proposal templates.
What to consider when writing project proposals
Following the writing checklist is good, but try to analyze rather than check items on the list when you write proposals. Consider the following to write a better proposal.
Your audience. Depending on who will be reviewing the proposal use the appropriate language.
Potential reasons for rejection. This could be:
- poor definition of the proposal;
- the discrepancy between proposal outlines and the client’s goals;
- unsatisfactory proposal presentation.
Data. Do the research, provide facts, charts, and graphs. The buyer should see the information he can trust.
How about project management software
Proposal management software can help you a lot. Internet is full of paid and free proposal writing apps. proposal software, you can create a project baseline, so everyone could track the development stages. Below are some famous examples.
Formstack — boosts your proposal productivity, collects data and reconciles projects online, automates manual processes, transitions from idea to workflow in minutes - all with a couple of clicks.
Better Proposals — offer over 200 free templates for business proposals, optimization, and protection of your projects.
Proposify — workflow automation that helps you create and track offers, quotes, and contracts, as well as sign documents online.
RFPIO — automation of requests for proposals with the integration of business tools, reports, user-friendly interface.
What else does the proposal software do?
- Uses web-based format to send proposals optimized for different devices;
- Provides access to free proposal templates.
- Provides analytical tools and keeps track of everything your client does with the proposal: be notified when proposals are read, signed, forwarded, what sections are most viewed.
- Creates electronically binding signatures and let clients instantly sign proposals
- Uses integrations and connects the proposal software with your CRM, time tracking, or other internal services.
- Integrates with inline payment getaways.
- Collects reports and evaluates what works and what you should improve in the template.
- Uses chat in real-time while the buyer is looking through your proposal.
- Writes proposals faster with free templates and automated software.
Try any free proposal writing service and evaluate the result. If working with premade templates free up your time and makes the process faster, find a more professional solution and automate proposal writing.
The buyer has to notice your proposal to provide funds for the project. Make it compelling, exciting and concentrate on the outcomes. Timely provided good results — is what your client expects in the end.