UPDATE: This business proposal template post was originally published on 6 January 2020 and updated on 17 September 2020.
When a potential customer wants to engage your services and they ask you to send them a proposal, what do you do? Do you give them a dollar amount on the spot? In this article, we’ll explore how to make proposal writing more manageable by using business proposal templates.
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7 good sources of business proposal templates
Think of a business proposal as a charismatic salesperson who is helpful, knowledgeable and tuned-in to what the customer needs. A written proposal introduces you and your services to the customer by showcasing your talents and personality. It’s a sales tool, and its purpose is to persuade a potential client to pick you.
Where a quote outlines what services you will provide and the price you’ll charge, a proposal sells your value and starts to build a relationship with the customer before they say yes.
Where you can find (mostly free) proposal templates
There’s no need to spend valuable time (or money) creating a proposal design from scratch. There are free templates that are easy to personalise by changing the photos, colours and text to match the project.
To access templates in Google Docs, you may need to install the Drive Template Gallery.
Which proposal template should you choose?
To be honest, the templates are similar. It’s the software that varies.
Many businesses use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create simple and effective proposals.
Don’t let anyone tell you that creating proposals this way is only for newbies.
There are a lot of long-standing businesses that build their business proposals with these everyday tools.
If you have basic design skills, Canva is a free and easy-to-learn program that allows you to add graphics and photos to design a professional-looking proposal. Canva offers free photography and graphics that you can use to sharpen your proposal.
Paid tools offer more features
Subscription-based tools offer additional features that will help reduce your admin time. Qwilr is a popular option for those who want a posh-looking proposal that’s uncomplicated. It has features that make it convenient for the client to accept your proposal — they can even pay the deposit directly.
There are other paid online proposal tools to consider, like:
- Better Proposals
Most of them offer a free trial period before you subscribe, so you can try them and see which one you like before you commit.
What you should include in a business proposal
Business proposals will vary in length depending on your services and the complexity of the project. There’s not a one-size-fits-all proposal format, but there are key things every proposal should include:
Here you should feature photos or graphics that look professional and are in keeping with your business image. Include your logo (learn how to make one here) and contact details as well as the client’s business name.
Address the client by name and thank them for their consideration. Explain what they are about to read.
Show that you understand what outcome they are trying to achieve.
Wow them with your experience and knowledge of their business. This is a good place to share samples of similar projects you’ve completed successfully for others.
Introduce them to your team or if it’s just you, tell them more about you.
Let them know how you work and what timelines they can expect.
Keep your fees straightforward and consider offering bundled services to show value.
Terms and Conditions
Don’t overlook this section. It’s important to protect yourself by explaining the rules and telling the client what your payment terms and fees are up-front.
Allow space where the client can sign to accept the proposal and enter a contractual agreement with you.
A few tips on writing business proposals that win clients:
- Make it visually appealing, adding photos and tables when appropriate
- Keep text short and in consumable chunks
- When appropriate, pull content from your website, brochures and social media posts
- Follow your business personality, voice and tone
- Avoid jargon
- Include testimonials from past or current clients
- Ask a proofreader to check your work
- Save your proposal in PDF format, as it’s easier for clients to open
Read more here about how to write winning proposals.
Where to start
Start with a program you already know and use.
If you’re comfortable with Canva, I highly recommend it. You can smoothly customise your document to reflect your business personality. You can also create a professional proposal using Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or Google Docs.
If you’re trying to streamline your admin tasks and want a tool that can process accepted proposals, initiate payment and integrate with your accounting system, consider a paid subscription to Qwilr, Better Proposals or Proposify.
Whichever tool you choose, remember to think about what your client needs to make a decision. Show them how you can solve their problems, and you’ll be on your way to winning more jobs.
This post does not represent an endorsement of any of the products mentioned here. Information was accurate as of publication date.