Tips on writing a business proposal

A business proposal is a marketing tool that is sent to the addressee by regular or electronic mail in order to receive a response. The response is the transfer of the potential client to the next stage of communication (meeting, presentation or signing of the contract). Depending on the type of the business proposal, the individual tasks of the tool, as well as its scope and content, may differ.

Types of business proposals

Business proposals are of three types:
  • Cold
  • Hot
  • Public

The first two types are used in marketing and sales. The third type is used in jurisprudence.

Cold business proposal

Cold business proposals are sent to an unprepared customer. In fact, this is spam. As practice shows, people do not particularly like spam, but if it interests them, then it becomes an exception to the rules. In order for this type of proposal to work, you need a high-quality target list (list of recipients). The purer this list, the better the response. If the target list includes the addresses such as [email protected], then the efficiency of the proposal is a priori reduced by 80–90%.

The main task of the cold proposal is to force the recipient to read it to the end. If you make a mistake, the letter is sent to the trash.

That is why when developing a cold business proposal, three main risks of ejection are taken into account:
  • At the receiving stage. It doesn’t get any attention. This may be the subject of the letter if the commercial offer is sent by e-mail, or a non-standard envelope with color or form factor, if the delivery channel is physical, etc.
  • At the opening stage. The attention is paid to the offer.
  • At the reading stage. It manages the use of persuasion elements and marketing chips.

Please note that the size of the cold proposal, as a rule, is 1–2 pages of printed text, not more. This is due to the fact that the recipient is not initially set to read the business proposal, and even more so, he will not read it if the volume exceeds 10–20 pages.

The main advantage of the cold commercial proposal is its mass character, but practice shows that when the proposal is personalized, the response to it is higher.

Hot business proposal

The hot business proposal is sent to the prepared client (the person who requested the proposal or with whom the manager got in touch in advance).

The hot proposals differ from the cold ones both by the size (which can be 10–15 pages or slides) and the approach to compilation. When writing a business proposal, you give the person interesting information for decision-making (price, availability, conditions, etc.). Recently, hot commercial offers, made in the form of PowerPoint presentations or transformed from PowerPoint to PDF format, are very popular.

Public offer

This is a special type of proposals, executed in the form of a public contract that does not require signing. Used on the sites of various SaaS-services or in online stores. Once a person fulfills the contract condition (for example, he/she registers on the website), he automatically accepts the terms of the business proposal.

Structure of the business proposal

In its structure, the proposal is somewhat reminiscent of the selling text. And this is natural because the business proposal is a special case of a commercial text. But there is one element that distinguishes the business proposals from the mass of other tools. This is an offer. So, when writing a business proposal, pay attention to the following structure:
  • Footer
  • Title of a business proposal
  • Lead
  • Offer
  • Benefits for the client
  • Processing objections
  • A call to action
  • Postscript

Footer

In the footer, the logo is most often displayed (so that the proposal is identified with a specific company) as well as contact details with a mini-appeal. This is done to save time and space. Once a person looks at the top of the document, he already knows what is at stake and how to contact you. This is very convenient. The size of the footer, as a rule, does not exceed 2 cm. After all, for a cold A4 format proposal, every centimeter counts.

Title of business proposal

This is a vital element, especially for the cold business proposal. Its task is to attract attention immediately. At the same time, for a hot commercial proposal, such a title is more than appropriate if the company’s name is followed.

Lead (first paragraph)

The main task of the lead is to generate interest in what you say. Otherwise, people simply will not listen to you. The lead always talks about what is important to the client. For this, four approaches are used:
  • From the problem (most often)
  • From the solution (if there is no problem as such)
  • From objections (if relevant)
  • From emotions (very rarely)

Offer

The offer should interest the recipient in such a way that he continues reading your offer. Practice shows that if the offer isn’t interesting for the reader, the business proposal directly flies into the trash box.

For an offer, you can use either a general formula with a benefit, or, the so-called bundle-amplifier:
  • Goods + goods at a bargain price
  • Product + service
  • Goods + gift, etc.

At the end of the offer, it’s recommended to make a graphic anchor (if space allows). It dilutes the text mass and adds “air”. In addition, it makes your commercial offer convenient for scanning.

Benefits for the client

The next block is benefits. In other words, this is the list of what a person receives when he agrees to your offer. You should be able to distinguish the benefits from properties and characteristics.

Processing objections

Handlers of all objections cannot always be inserted in the offer. But even so, the main ones can be closed simply by answering the questions: “Who are you?”, “Why can you be trusted?”, “Who already uses your services?”, “Geography of presence”, etc.

As the objection handlers, blocks with triggers of social proof or authority are often used. Finally, another powerful method of persuading commercial offers is guarantees. At the same time, guarantees can be expected (12 months for office equipment) and unexpected (if something goes wrong, the company repairs at its own expense, and at the time of repair, provides a similar model of equipment).

To get even more trust, tell about your company, without superfluous dithyrambs – specifically to the point. Only facts.

A call to action

Another inalienable attribute when writing a business proposal is the call to action. At the same time, there should be only one call (to one specific action): most often it is a call, but there may be an application on the site or a visit to the sales department. Maximum, to call or send Email.

Note that the call must be a strong verb, so the response will be higher.

Compare:
  • Call me (a strong verb)
  • You can call me (a weak verb, the effect will be lower)

And one more important point. You will be surprised, but sometimes people who develop business proposals forget to indicate contact details in them. It turns out a comical situation: the recipient of the proposal wants to order a product or service but physically cannot do it, because he does not know whom to contact.

Postscript

The final, and at the same time one of the most important elements of all great business proposals is the postscript (P.S.). With proper use, the postscript becomes a very powerful motivating lever. Practice shows that people read postscripts more often (after the signatures under the pictures). That’s why, if when writing a business proposal, you want to strengthen it, P.S. should be taken into account.

In addition, in the postscript, you can insert a limit (deadline). Many people overlook this item of structure. And if in the case of sending a hot commercial proposal, the manager can call and remind of himself, in the case of a cold business proposal, the absence of a restriction can deprive the company of more than half of the responses.

Limitations can be made either in the context of time, or in the context of the quantity of goods. For example:
  • There are only 5 facsimiles left
  • The offer is valid only until August 31st, from September 1st, the price will increase by 2 times.

It is worth mentioning that if you make a restriction, then you must fulfill your promises. And not so that you promise to raise the price twice tomorrow, but the next day you do not, but you promise the same.

Algorithm on how to write a business proposal

In order to make a business proposal correctly, you need to do the following:
  • Take any sample you can find online as a basis
  • Replace the logo, call to action, and contact details with your own
  • Develop a title using the 4U formula
  • Describe the real “problem” of the client in the first paragraph
  • Compose an offer with a solution for the “problem”
  • Make a graphic separator
  • Describe the additional benefits of your business proposal
  • Remove the key objections or briefly talk about yourself
  • Make a call to action, write P.S. with deadline

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