How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]

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Meredith Hart
Meredith Hart

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Here's what every new business owner needs: an extra 8 hours in the day, an endless supply of coffee, and, most importantly, a really strong business proposal.

how to write a business proposal: image shows a person holding a pen and another person typing on a laptop
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A business proposal can bridge the gap between you and potential clients. Done correctly, and it will outline your value proposition and persuade a company or organization to do business with you.

Here, we'll take a look at the various kinds of business proposals and go over how to write one. We’ll also see some ideas and examples to help guide yours.

Know exactly what you need? Jump to one of the following sections:

It's a common misconception that business proposals and business plans are the same. However, a proposal helps you sell your product or service — not your business itself.

Think of it this way: instead of assisting your search for investors to fund your business, a proposal helps you seek new customers.

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Types of Business Proposals

There are two types of business proposals: unsolicited and solicited.

  • Unsolicited Business Proposals: With unsolicited business proposals, you approach a potential customer with a proposal, even if they don't request one, to gain their business.
  • Solicited Business Proposals: Solicited business proposals are requested by prospective clients so that they can decide whether to do business with your company.

In a solicited business proposal, the other organization asks for a request for proposal (RFP). When a company needs a problem solved, they invite other businesses to submit a proposal that details how they'd solve it.

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Whether the proposal is solicited or unsolicited, the steps to create your proposal are similar. Make sure it includes three main points:

  • A statement of the organization's problem
  • Proposed solution
  • Pricing information

Before writing your business proposal, it's crucial you understand the company. If they've sent you an RFP, make sure you read it carefully, so you know exactly what they want.

I recommend having an initial call or meeting with any new clients to ensure you fully understand their objectives. Ask open-ended questions to understand not just what they want, but why they want it.

Once you've done your research, it's time to begin writing your business proposal. While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, there's several elements most proposals include. (I designed this example business proposal using Canva.)

1. Begin with a title page.

You have to convey some basic information here. Introduce yourself and your business. Be sure to include:

  • Your name
  • Your company's name
  • The date you submitted the proposal
  • The name of the client or individual you're submitting the proposal to

Your title page should reconcile engagement with professionalism. I think of it as your first tone-setter, so you need to make sure yours is sleek, aesthetically appealing, and not too "out there."

Here's an example of what a business proposal template looks like when done right:

How to Write a Business Proposal: Business Proposal Example Title Page

2. Explain your "why" with an executive summary.

The executive summary details exactly why you're sending the proposal and why your solution is the best for the prospective client.

Specificity is key here. Why are you the best choice for them?

Like a value proposition, your executive summary outlines the benefits of your company's products or services and how they can solve your potential client's problem.

After reading your executive summary, the prospect should offer a clear idea of how you can help them, even if they don't read the entire proposal. Here's what one should look like:

How to Write a Business Proposal: Sample Executive Summary

That example conveys both what the business does as a whole and how it can serve the reader's needs.

When drafting an executive summary, it can be helpful to see what yours shouldn't look like. Here's an example I came across recently, which I found far too vague:

How to Write a Business Proposal: Executive summary done wrong

Additionally, it doesn't allude to what the reader specifically stands to gain from doing business with Outbound Telecom. It also fails to speak to why it should be considered "the best in its industry."

3. State the problem or need.

This is where you share a summary of the issue impacting the potential client. This is your opportunity to show them you understand their needs and the problem they need help solving.

How to Write a Business Proposal: Example Event Overview

Research and critical thinking are key here. Then, follow these steps:

  • Take a holistic look at the specific issues your client is facing
  • Find the problems your solution can solve
  • Frame those problems in a way that sets up your solution as the best choice

4. Propose a solution.

In my opinion, there are two factors make a business proposal really stand out: specificity and personalization.

How to Write a Business Proposal: Example Recommended Services

Make sure your proposed solution is customized to the client's needs. Find ways to show that you've created this proposal specifically for them.

Be sure to include:

  • Which deliverables you'll provide
  • The methods you'll use
  • A time frame for your proposed solution
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  • Proposed solution
  • Pricing information
  • Project timeline
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5. Share your qualifications.

You know you're qualified to solve this prospect's problem, but how do they know they can trust you?

Use this section of your business proposal template to communicate why you're best for the job.

How to write a business proposal: share your qualifications

In the example above, I included several signals to showcase my expertise – that I've been in the photography biz for 10 years, that I've worked with over 500 clients, and that I've been featured a number of publications. 

As you approach this section, focus on presenting yourself as an authority. Consider leveraging tools like:

  • Case studies
  • Client testimonials
  • Relevant awards
  • Industry accreditations

6. Include pricing options.

Pricing is where things can get a bit tricky, as you don't want to under or over-price your product.

How to write a business proposal: Include Pricing Options

The pricing section of your proposal could include:

  • A detailed pricing breakdown, including packages, tiers, and add-ons or optional services
  • How product features and benefits align with pricing choices
  • Pricing for different needs and budgets
  • How your pricing compares with competitors
  • An FAQ section to respond to anticipated objections and explain your pricing strategy

7. Summarize with a conclusion.

After sharing the above information, simplify it all into one final section.

  • First, briefly summarize the proposal. Be sure to share your qualifications and why you’d serve as the best choice.
  • Then, to prompt further conversation, confirm your availability to go over the next steps.
  • At the end of the proposal, the goal is to have the client ready to work with you. So, be sure to offer your contact information for easy follow-up.

Business Proposal Templates

In need of some inspiration before you begin writing? Here are example business proposal templates from popular business proposal software companies you can use to help create your proposal.

1. HubSpot's Free Business Plan Templates

HubSpot Business Proposal Template

Download these Templates

We know how crucial a great business proposal is to your and your client’s success. That's why we've compiled 2 Free Business Proposal Templates for you to use and customize for any of your projects.

You'll gain access to a concise, one-page template (pictured above), as well as a longer template for you to refine your plan and proposal.

Download the templates now to get started on building your proposal.

What We Like

The one-page template is clear, straightforward, and easy to read — without skipping on the key elements of a business proposal. This format is especially useful for busy clients who appreciate brevity and clarity.

2. Web Design Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Web Design

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When you make a web design proposal, you must understand your client’s needs. In this template, you will begin by introducing yourself and your plan for the client. This template will walk you through outlining your development process, project timeline, and pricing.

What We Like

I found this proposal not only visually appealing, but also very robust in its contents. It includes all the necessary elements of a web design proposal, including research, planning, wireframing, mockups, and more. You can rest assured that all the details will be covered.

3. SEO Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: SEO

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For search engine optimization, clients want to hear key phrases like increased visibility and traffic. This SEO proposal template will allow you to demonstrate and communicate your growth plans. It includes sample content and walks you through the essential elements of an SEO proposal.

What We Like

I like that this proposal includes helpful instructions in each section to help guide your writing. Most of the work is done for you, you just need to plug in key information (e.g., your company name, client name, etc.) It doesn't get easier than that.

4. Sales Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Sales

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When making a sales proposal, it’s critical to have clients believe in your expertise and previous work. With this template, you can establish this quickly. Starting with your company background and going into client testimonials, you can instantly prove the value of working with your company.

This template also gives you space to elaborate on your service proposal through goals, challenges, and proposed solutions.

What We Like

This template lets you hit the ground running, as most of the writing is done for you. All you need to do is plug in key information about your business and you're off to a great start. However, I recommend going the extra mile and editing the copy to fit your brand's tone and style.

5. Marketing Project Proposal

Marketing project business proposal

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Marketing is a fast-paced industry, and many marketers don’t want to waste time rifling through multiple pages of proposals. This one-page marketing proposal will help get your ideas across quickly and efficiently. This template features a description, pain points, solutions, goals, costs, and a strategy.

What We Like

This template includes all the key information of a proposal — but condensed into a single page. This is a straightforward, clear proposal that's sure to make a good impression.

6. Business Consulting Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Business Consulting

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If your company offers consulting services, this business consulting proposal template is easy to tailor to your business and your prospective client's needs. This template will include a project summary, project activities (including deliverables), a timeline, and more.

What We Like

This proposal is entirely customizable, making it a great option for consultants across most industries. It also offers a modern design with plenty of white space, making it an easy read for the recipient.

7. Social Media Marketing Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Social Media Marketing

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With advertising on social networks projected to reach $82.23 billion dollars in 2025, it's in your business's best interest to have a plan for growing your client's social media presence.

To help you in that effort, the information in this social media marketing proposal includes an executive summary to help introduce your high-level ideas, an assessment of the client’s company to show your diligence, and a breakdown of billing to show how your company charges for posting, content creation, and analytics.

What We Like

This template includes all the bells and whistles of a social media proposal packaged in a fun yet professional design. It also includes helpful writing instructions under each section.

8. Content Marketing Proposal

Business Proposal Templates: Content Marketing

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Business proposal templates are helpful places to get started, but what should your business proposal look like when it's complete? This template should inspire you.

What We Like

When pitching your content marketing services to clients, this template can help you organize your ideas. While it walks you through initial objectives and how to communicate your prospected results, one of the most helpful parts of this template is the pricing ideas it gives you when charging for your services.

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Free Business Proposal Template

Propose your business as the ideal solution using our Free Business Proposal Templates

  • Problem summary
  • Proposed solution
  • Pricing information
  • Project timeline
Loading your download form

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Access now
Learn more

Business Proposal Example

In the business template example below, Social Portal Consulting (SPC) pitches a marketing proposal to Graphic Bean. At first sight, this proposal appeals to the creative. I recommend going a step forward and designing the layout in your or your client’s brand colors.

Business Proposal Example: Social Media

Image Source

Besides the design, the social media icons quickly tell the prospect what platforms Social Portal is pitching. Because we see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest icons, the client instantly knows that this proposal doesn’t include LinkedIn, YouTube, or other platforms.

While maintaining its design, this example outlines Social Portal Consulting’s plans efficiently. It begins by providing insight into Graphic Bean and its goals before elaborating on how SPC can leverage its expertise to help them achieve them.

This business proposal template includes an easy-to-follow timeframe for goals and objectives while keeping the client abreast of how payment will happen across the project.

Overall, this is an excellent example of how to combine the elements of social media marketing into a creative and concise business proposal. Finally, we'll leave you with some business proposal ideas to get you started on your own.

1. Start with an outline.

If you want to produce a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to have some idea of what you're hoping to achieve with it.

Before I dive into writing a proposal, I always outline the major sections of the proposal that I want to include. That way, I can stay focused and make sure my message stays intact as I write.

Use these free business proposal templates to make sure that your outline includes everything you need.

2. Keep it simple.

Ultimately, there's no definitive blueprint for how long a business proposal has to be. Yours should be however long it takes to convey the information you want to get across.

That said, I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity, especially when it comes to business proposals. Keep your sentences short and simple, and avoid including too much business jargon.

You want anyone who picks up your proposal to make sense of it. So, be straightforward and don't get too fancy. Aim for substance over flash.

3. Stay on brand.

Don't be afraid to let your company's personality shine through in your proposal. Stay true to your brand and show the client what sets you apart from your competitors.

4. Quality control.

I've made it a habit to add an editing/QA step in my writing process. During this step, I do a quick spelling and grammar check before hitting send.

So, as you draft your proposal, and after checking for the basics, keep scanning this document until it's just right.

Check to make sure your proposal:

  • Meets client needs and expectations
  • Highlights your value proposition
  • Is well-structured and easy to read or skim
  • Complies with legal, ethical, and regulatory requirements
  • Looks professional and engaging

5. Include data and visuals.

You want your business proposal to capture your prospect's attention and help set you apart from any other ones they might have received. One of the best ways to do that is to include hard, quantitative data that helps stress the value of your business.

Use relevant, compelling figures that highlight what you have to offer. This can establish authority and make your proposal more convincing. It also helps to include visuals such as charts and graphs to enhance your proposal.

6. Add social proof.

From my experience, you can only be so convincing when you're personally talking up how great your business is — which is why adding social proof is key to establishing credibility.

At the end of the day, prospects are skeptical. They may not take you at your word. But they'll likely trust peers and fellow customers. That's why including elements like customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.

7. Use a call-to-action.

I've learned that the best proposal in the world can only take you so far if you don't clearly define the next steps. That's why you have to make sure the reader knows what to do after reading your proposal.

A clear call-to-action is the best way to get there.

Define and highlight exactly what they should do to act on the interest your proposal has generated. Without that guidance, you might leave your reader in limbo.

HubSpot customers: Use this CTA builder to create powerful customized CTAs.

8. Create a sense of urgency.

No one wants to feel as if they missed out on a great opportunity. From my experience, prospect tend to drag their feet and put off making a decision if there isn't a sense of urgency.

So, as you create your business proposal, your goal should be to add a degree of urgency. When prospective clients read your business proposal they should feel that the best time to sign up for your service is now.

One way I accomplish this is by stating short and long-term goals for their business. They'll have to wait for the long-term goals, but I make the short-term goals so enticing that they'll be ready to begin a collaboration.

9. Make the decision for them.

Craft your copy in a way that seems like saying "no" to the proposal would be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Your offer should go above and beyond their expectations. Do everything in your power to remove friction and objections along the way.

10. Incorporate video into your proposal.

If you're creating an online proposal using document file formats like PDF, add multimedia elements. This will enhance the proposal experience, make your document richer, and keep them engaged.

Try adding a video at the beginning as an intro to your proposal. Or, put a video in the project breakdown to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts.

Extras like this can make an impression. This tip works especially well with prospects who are visual or auditory communicators.

Pro tip: HubSpot Video makes it easy to record and embed video into a website or email for a big proposal boost.

11. Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.

They say you won't receive unless you ask. And readers won't explore the upper tiers of your solutions if you don't give them the opportunity.

So, share some upsells and add-ons about your business that they can act on. Call out a specific pain point and how this extra can add value.

With this step, balance is important. Show them everything your business has to offer without overwhelming your recipient.

12. Clarify your terms and conditions.

Your business proposal should include details on your project timeline and payment schedule. This summary is basically what you and the client agree to if they accept your proposal.

How to write a business proposal: Example Terms and Conditions

Don’t forget to clear the terms and conditions with your own legal team before sending the proposal to the client.

13. Include a space for signatures to document agreement.

Include a signature box for the client to sign and let them know exactly what they're agreeing to when they sign.

This is also a chance to include a prompt for the prospect to contact you if they have any unanswered questions you can address.

14. Create a table of contents.

Solid UX is valuable in almost any context, and business proposals are no exception. You need to make your proposal as simple and accessible as possible. So, be sure to add a table of contents:

BusinessHow to Write a Business Proposal: Example Table of Contents

This will let your potential client know exactly what your business proposal covers.

If you're sending your proposal electronically, it helps to include a clickable table of contents. This way, readers can jump to sections of your proposal for easy reading and navigation.

You have a perfect proposal ready, but does it stand out? Keep in mind, 20% of startups fail because of competition. But these business proposal ideas can give your proposal the edge in a crowded market.

As you scan this list, don't just go for the shiniest tech or the coolest concept. Instead, make sure that any idea you try adds value and helps you clearly communicate the quality of your proposal.

1. Personalize your business proposal for each recipient.

Tailor your business proposal to meet the specific interests and needs of each person you send it to. This will show that you genuinely understand their unique challenges.

Pro tip: Use contact segmentation and email personalization features in the HubSpot CRM to tailor your proposal to each recipient.

2. Design a business proposal website.

I like to impress potential clients with a professional business proposal website. Yes, an actual website.

A standalone website for your proposal can help you:

  • Showcase your company
  • Highlight industry expertise
  • Offer easy access to relevant information
  • Add interactivity to your proposal

This idea will leave a lasting impression and show your commitment to your reader's experience.

Pro tip: New to designing websites? Try HubSpot's free CMS to build a website for your business proposal.

3. Start with a custom animation or video.

It's easy to add a premade video, like your brand video, to a business proposal. But I've personally discovered that if you really want to capture attention, you should add a layer of personalization, either with a custom animation or video.

A visual presentation of your proposal can help you break down new or complex concepts in a format that's both easy to understand and engaging. It will also set your offer apart from more traditional, text-heavy proposals.

Pro tip: Check out this post for a list of animation tools that can help you create custom animated presentations.

4. Add a VR or AR demo.

Drop in a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) demo for an immersive proposal experience. These technologies can help you add interactivity to your product or service proposal. It also offers a unique and memorable experience with lasting impact.

Check out these resources for inspiration, and to help you decide which technology is best for your business proposal:

5. Weave sound into your proposal.

Compose a memorable song or jingle, plug in sound effects, or add royalty-free music to your business proposal.

This idea can create an emotional hook that makes your message stick in the memory of your audience.

6. Create a proposal with multiple start and end points.

If you play video games, you know the fun of playing a game over and over until you've experienced every possible ending.

So, try customizing your business proposal for different entry points. Then, allow your reader to choose which section they want to end with. This flexibility lets your audience focus on the areas that interest them most, making your proposal more relevant and engaging.

Or, add a storytelling element to your proposal with different start and end sections. This strategy can highlight your knowledge of their business and industry. It can also be a way to offer a prospect more than one relevant solution.

7. Try direct mail.

Your readers probably see a lot of digital communication. To set yourself apart, try adding a thoughtful and personalized direct mail element.

Write a handwritten note, send a small gift, or pull together a beautiful mailer. This tangible approach will make your business proposal a memorable and unique experience. This idea will express your attention to detail and commitment to personalized communication.

8. Ask an influencer to present or vouch for your proposal.

If you're already working with influencers, you know that an influencer can boost credibility and trust for your proposal.

Their endorsement can validate your ideas and show that respected figures in the industry support your proposal. This idea can add authority and appeal to your business proposal, increasing your chances of success.

Learn more about brand influencers and check out our free guide to influencer marketing here.

9. Hide one or more Easter Eggs.

Surprise and delight your audience by adding hidden Easter eggs throughout your business proposal. Whether it's a hidden message, a playful animation, or a secret section, these little surprises add a touch of fun and intrigue.

Easter eggs encourage exploration. This idea can get your readers to spend more time getting into the details of your proposal — all the while having an incredible and unique experience.

Let your business proposal do the talking.

Depending on the type of business you're in, your business proposal elements will vary based on the prospect's needs. After reading through your plan, prospective clients should have very few questions about your company and what it can do for them. With the tips and examples in this article, you have all the tools to guide you through the process. With a professional, customized business proposal, you're sure to delight your client and potentially gain their business.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure to learn more about how we use AI.

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