Winning new clients means you have to have an edge on the competition. A well thought out business proposal may make the difference between you and your competitors.

For business consultants and IT professionals, or anyone else in the services industry, a business proposal is what you present a potential client to express how you can help him solve a problem with the services you offer.

And while you will customize each proposal to each potential customers’ needs, you may find it easiest to start with a template. In your template, you can set up the basics, including your company logo and general information, and then customize it based on what the contact is asking for in terms of services.

Answering the Questions

With a business proposal, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Who your company is
  • What services you offer in relation to the client’s needs
  • When the services will be offered, and when the project will be completed
  • Where the services will be conducted
  • Why the client should choose you over competitors (advantages)
  • How you can help solve the client’s problems

When creating your proposal, keep in mind the end goal. Your client may need new website copy, or management of an IT implementation. He doesn’t care how many awards your company has won, or what unrelated services you offer. Stick to what he does care about: how to achieve his goals or solve his problem, and at a reasonable price.

Do Your Homework

Don’t just go with what the potential client has told you about his business. Do your own research to find out as much as possible about the company’s weak spots and its needs. This can help you push the right buttons in the proposal. If the company is on the verge of bankruptcy, talk about revenues you can help the company realize through your work.

What’s the Competition Offering?

Usually a potential client is pretty close mouthed about who else is bidding on a project, so if you can’t find out who else is in the running, base your offerings on the biggest competitor you have. What added value can you provide for this project that they won’t be able to match? If you have an in-house Java expert who’s written books on the subject, that might be enough to sway the contact to choose you for an IT project.

Keep it Simple

The business proposal isn’t the place for minute details that may be more appropriate in a contract. That comes after you’ve won the sale. The proposal should be simple enough that anyone can quickly read it and make a decision based on what it says. If you offer different packages for your services, stick to no more than three to make the choice easy, and make the different options different enough that the reader sees the additional value in each.

Make it Attractive

You can go with a word document proposal or a presentation version, but whichever you do, make your business proposal attractive. Consider using a page template that adds a bit of color and design to the document without being a distraction. Organize information in such a way that it is appealing to the eye and easily scannable.

Create a Call to Action

The biggest problem most people have in creating a business proposal is leaving it open ended. What should a potential client do after reading it? Likely it will get placed in a large pile of paperwork on his desk and forgotten until you call to follow up.

Instead, put a call to action at the end of the proposal, inviting the reader to call or email you if he has any questions, or to get started. Make it clear, too, that if he wants to change any part of your proposal (swapping one service for another), you’re amenable to modifying it on his behalf.

Being Involved

While sometimes you have no choice but to email the proposal and wait for a reply, try to set up a call or meeting so you can walk through the proposal with the contact. This will clear up any confusing points and give him the opportunity to ask questions. This also increases your chance of getting a “yes” right on the spot. The more time a contact has to think about the proposal (or rather, forget about it), that opportunity shrinks each day.

Business proposals help make you and your company look more professional, and they make it easy for potential clients to understand how you can help them.