Top 24 Business Proposal Ideas to Accelerate Your Deals

Read our curated list of business proposal ideas, many of which come straight from sales experts, CEOs, and other trustworthy pros.

Business proposals are written documents that express the value, pricing, and terms of your product or service to a prospect after a sales presentation. It’s likely that your prospects are receiving proposals from your competitors, as well, so it’s crucial that you make yours stand out. We asked some expert salespeople and business aficionados how to do just that. Without further ado, here are the top business proposal ideas for creating effective business proposals.

  • Tips on Writing Your Business Proposal: Learn ways to optimize your business proposals when writing them for the best results. Read more below.
  • Tips on Sending & Following Up With Business Proposals: Read tips on how to send and follow up on your business proposal to stand out to prospects. Read more below.

Tips on Writing your Business Proposal

When writing your business proposal, there are ways to separate yourself from other proposals by optimizing and personalizing the content leading to more deal wins. Learn pro tips to help write the best business proposal possible and communicate your ideas effectively.

Krista Neher

Krista Neher

CEO, Boot Camp Digital

1. Create a Well-Designed & Reusable Template

The best proposal templates are both well-designed and customizable. You can change the font, background, images, color scheme, and, most importantly, the words on the page. CEO Krista Neher of Boot Camp Digital recommends paying to design a high-quality and reusable template:

"Invest time upfront in an amazing template. We spent one week creating an outstanding template (and hired a designer) and we customize about 3-4 slides in the template for each client. Our win rate increased from about 50% to over 75% with a professional, well-designed template. It also saved us time because we are only customizing a few slides for each proposal."

There are also free or pre-built templates on the web designed for various situations and types of businesses. Whether you need a proposal to sell SaaS, advertising services, or consulting, there’s a template out there for you.

If you want to custom-design a reusable business proposal that's both professional and eye-catching, hire a designer on Fiverr for the best results. Fiverr is a gig-based marketplace where experts offer business proposal design services you can update for each prospect and send as a PDF. Gigs start as low as five dollars; check out the top options below today:

Khari Washington

Khari Washington

Broker, 1st United Realty & Mortgage, Inc

2. Host a Discovery Call Beforehand

Discovery calls help you tease out prospect needs, pain points, timeline, budget, and anything else that helps you to assess their fit and personalize a business proposal that addresses their specific needs. Real estate broker Khari Washington talks about why it’s so critical to do a discovery call first:

"When we make a proposal to list someone's house on the market, one of the best tips is to listen to what is important to the seller before creating the proposal. Sometimes the price isn't the only factor. You have to address their needs in the order of importance to them, not you."

To run a successful discovery call that helps you craft a personal proposal, check out our article about how to host a discovery call. We give you the step-by-step process, along with powerful questions to ask your lead.

James angel

James Angel

Co-Founder, DYL

3. Format Your Proposal Sections Correctly

When writing your business proposal, you want be direct and submit a professional and well-formatted proposal. This shows companies you know what you're doing and can clearly communicate your idea. James Angel of DYL echoes this advice:

"Your proposal has to be formatted. Poorly structured proposals might be unpleasant, confusing, or difficult to understand. Format your proposal in a clear and sequential way, and also make your proposal visually appealing and simple to read if you want it to be considered."

There is typically a standard business proposal format you can follow, as well as customize it to your specific needs. Check out our article on business proposal formats for detail, which includes a formatted business proposal template.

If you're looking for a well-formatted and easy-to-follow proposal example, get our free business proposal template below. You can edit the colors font, sections, and more. Also included in the template is example text you can use to craft your own. For more detail on how to use the template, we also have a companion article on how to create a proposal template.

Martin Boonzaayer

Martin Boonzaayer

CEO, The Trusted Home Buyer

4. Use Honest, Simple, & Concise Language

Buyers are busy and don’t want to read a business proposal that requires the use of a dictionary or expert interpreter. So, keep your language succinct and realistic. CEO Martin Boonzaayer of The Trusted Home Buyer backs up this rule:

"Keep an eye on the tone and language used in business proposals. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms by using clear, concise, and simple language. Simultaneously, avoid exaggerating your company or service, as this may undermine the trust you're trying to build with your potential client. Additionally, use the same casual-meets-formal tone you would in a meeting."

To get a solid understanding of the language and technical terms a prospect will and will not understand, take a look at their social media profiles or their “about me” page on their company’s website. Take note of the words and tone they use, and match that while crafting your proposal.

christian velitchkov

Christian Velitchkov

Co-Founder, Twiz LLC

5. Create & Manage Your Proposals Within a CRM

Many top CRM software allows you to create, send, and track proposals directly from within your CRM. This is especially useful if you sell an inventory of products, need to create repeatable proposal templates, or if you want to track the progress of your proposal and any recent activity. Christian Velitchkov of Twiz LLC says:

"Bring in the technology and increase the efficiency of your proposal. You can use CRM software to create and send your business proposal. This way is quick and effective. It saves time and increases your reach."

The benefits of creating and managing your business proposals within a CRM are numerous, including a more efficient sales process, better-personalized documents, more visibility into prospect activity, and more, all of which helps you close high-quality deals quickly.

Freshsales is rated our top proposal CRM software thanks to its robust sales pipeline tools and proposal creation features. Oversee your entire pipeline including the creation, sending, and management of your business proposals directly from within the CRM. Take advantage of Freshsales' free tier or 21-day free trial below to test it for yourself:

Michael Hammelburger

CEO, Sales Therapy

6. Add Testimonials to Inspire Trust

A testimonial is a quote from a past or current client in which they praise your business. Including one in your proposal is like giving your prospect an injection of trust. Your prospect reads it, and your business instantly seems more credible. CEO Michael Hammelburger of Sales Therapy echoes this advice:

"One of the best tricks that has worked for our sales team when writing a marketing business proposal is adding social proof on the proposal. Come up with a list of past and present customers who resemble the qualities of your potential customer to provide a testimonial of your work. Back up your customers' testimonials with stats and numbers to prove your claims and work on a great storytelling approach to get your lead excited hearing more from you."

The location of these testimonials depends on how you structure your business proposal. If you have an introduction page where you talk about your business and team, this is a great place to put a quote from a happy client.

Vince Burruano

Vince Burruano

CEO, Vince Burruano Consulting Services, LLC

7. "Recommend" Your Idea to Clients

Calling your proposal a "recommendation" instead of a "proposal" changes the way your clients think about the proposal. A recommendation makes you seem like the expert and that you're trying to help the customer instead of pitching something they don't need. Vince Burruano explains why this works:

"Don’t call it a proposal, call it a “recommendation”. Experts provide recommendations after conducting a thorough discovery and analysis. Sales professionals should do the same. By thinking of yourself as an expert providing a recommendation, you become a consultative salesperson that's more trustworthy. We're pre-conditioned psychologically to respect recommendations from experts."

By calling your proposal a recommendation, you tell your reader you've done analyses and have background knowledge on the subject. This makes you look professional and authoritative to your client.

Paige Arnof-Fenn

Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls

8. Highlight Your Expertise & Thought Leadership

When a client sees a business proposal, they want to know that the deal has a high likelihood of closing before agreeing to move forward with the proposal. One way to do this is to highlight your success and your expertise in your proposal to make your client trust you and your business more. Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls explains how she does this:

"We try to educate, inform and entertain in our written proposals with articles we have written or been quoted in and also extend invitations to events where we will be speaking so they can see us be featured for our expertise.  We try to make our proposals personal to stand out from the larger agency boilerplate info drop logo here approach."

This method shows credibility and highlights the strengths of your company. Showing your clients that you are active and personalizing the proposals also helps set you apart from others.

Paula Glynn

Paula Glynn

Director of Strategy & Sales, Pixelstorm

9. Paint Yourself as an Advisor

Besides the tangible deliverables, your prospect might also want your ongoing support and advice. This is especially true if you’re selling a service like financial services, consulting, or marketing. Director of sales and strategy Paula Glynn  at Pixelstorm supports the effectiveness of this technique:

"Always provide an insight into the customer's business as part of the proposal. This shows that you have taken the time to personalise, and think about them as a business. It shows you are an expert in your field and you are sharing a small piece of the advice/experience they would get if they were to become a customer. It transitions the proposal from ‘generic’ to ‘customized’ and VALUABLE. Different from your competitors. You would be surprised what this can do to the close rates!"

The insight doesn’t have to be directly related to your solution. It could be an industry shift that the prospect can take advantage of, recommendations for another non-competitive service or product to fix an issue they mentioned during discovery, or the actual root cause of their main pain point, which they might’ve missed.

Kamila gornia

Kamila Gornia

Founder & CEO, Heart Behind Hustle

10. Highlight Your End Goal

Your business proposal should focus on your end goal more than the steps to get there. When clients read business proposals, most of the time they don't care how you get to the end result. They care about the results and what those results give them. Kamila Gornia of Heart Behind Hustle echoes this:

"The client ultimately only cares about one thing - will they get what they're asking for, and don't really care all that much about the details. If you can express your confidence in ACHIEVING the end result by creating your own methodology - they will get sold that much easier."

Confidence is key when convincing clients that your goals will be achieved, and if you outline specifically how you will achieve your goals in your business proposal, it will ultimately lead to more deal wins.

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Dan Henderson

Founder, Central Metro Denver

11. Anticipate & Handle Objections

You probably have a list of objections that your prospects often bring up. Instead of waiting until the prospect has read the proposal to deal with these objections, zap them during the reading process. Business owner Dan Henderson recommends also highlighting drawbacks of the product or service and dealing with them in the proposal:

"As a business owner, you must understand how to write profitable and effective business proposals because they influence a prospect's decision. I believe the best way to write them is to highlight not just the benefits but also the drawbacks, and you must have a strategy for dealing with them. This will assist you in persuading prospects that the disadvantages are unimportant because you can handle them. This builds the trust that your prospects require for your business to succeed."

If your prospects usually bring up specific potential risks, name them in your proposal and discuss how you plan to mitigate them. If prospects often push back on the implementation timeline, explain in-depth why it takes so long and why the timeline is beneficial. We have a list of the most common objections and rebuttals, many of which you might want to refute in the prose of your proposal.

Tony Martins

Tony Martins

Founder, Profitable Venture

12. Make Your Proposal as Clear as Possible

When presenting your business proposal to clients, you want to make sure the language is as simple and to the point as possible. Presenting your idea, no matter how complex, in a simple manner allows your client to follow along and will more likely end in a business deal. Tony Martins of Profitable Venture shares his advice:

"Instead of adding layers of technical jargon to the proposal, write it in plain English because  people will  most likely skim over it anyhow. Make it simple to find and comprehend your essential numbers. To emphasize the most important numbers, use summary tables and basic business charts. However, simple terminology and formats should not be confused with simple thought."

By simply and clearly highlighting the key factors, you ensure that people reading your proposal will see the important points and understand the basics of your proposal.

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan

Co-Founder & Marketing Director, CocoFinder

13. Appeal to Your Prospect’s Emotions

People buy on emotion. They hit purchase today because they had a rough day at work and desire peace, or because they fear the tickets might sell out. Don’t just sell to the analytical mind. Sell to the emotions as well to increase the chances of winning the sale. Marketing Director Harriet Chan  from CocoFinder explains why this approach works:

"Always keep in mind that cold-hard data and emotional appeal are vital to master how to write business proposals. Most clients’ decisions are bound by logic, such as budgetary restrictions, but their choices are shaped by emotions, including excitement over the business proposal. It is essential to express the tangible benefits you offer to potential clients to visualize your working relationship and make them feel confident that your offering fits the outcomes sought."

Make your clients excited for the future, envy their peers or make them feel like they are missing out. The emotions will drive the sale forward if you tap into these methods.

Joseph Fung

Joseph Fung

CEO, Uvaro

14. Discuss an Industry Shift

Kicking off your proposal by highlighting a market trend or opportunity that your product or service can help the prospect capture is a great way to build intrigue and excitement. Uvaro CEO Joseph Fung talks about how he uses this narrative strategy when writing business proposals.

"A great tactic to use is to show a statistic or industry trend that points towards a success right off the bat. This elevates the prospect's emotion of hope. Then introduce the message that this success, unfortunately, is not the norm in that industry and link it with the pain expressed by your prospect. This creates a situation for your prospect where you've generated excitement and then tamped it down by pointing out the reality of the situation. This tactic is a set up for driving your real point home: That your product is the answer to your prospect's pain."

The pain point of your prospect should be the one thing blocking your prospect from seizing the opportunity presented by the industry shift.

ben Austin

Ben Austin

CEO & Founder, Absolute Media

15. Mention Add-on Products or Services

Consider referencing some other relevant items available for purchase in your business proposal. That way, your prospect will be more aware of the options they have to enhance their current purchase. Ben Austin of Absolute Media explains:

"Mentioning add-on products or services at the end of your proposal is a great way to showcase what else is on offer to your potential client – highlighting that there is further opportunity available to them now and in the future. These should be personalized to the client you are working with – consider what would be of most interest to them and their campaign."

If possible, plug these extra items on the pricing page, preferably below the price of the main product or service you’re outlining in the proposal. When mentioning it, try using language that is natural and helpful. Say, “If you’d like to include the {package name}, which helps you {value proposition}, your total would come to {cost}.”

Christina Strack

Christina Strack

Enterprise Sales Speaker and Trainer, Titan Enterprise Sales

16. Never Criticize the Prospect’s Current Vendor

Sometimes, your business proposal must emphasize why your business is better than your prospect’s current provider. Whatever their faults, use good sportsmanship, or you might come across as a competitor who cares more about winning than helping the prospect. Enterprise sales trainer Christina Strack explains why this is such an important rule:

"Don't disparage the incumbent. If you are Forrester Consulting, and the incumbent is Gartner Consulting, be sure your current state analysis of Gartner's work is objective and not judgmental. When you criticize your prospect's vendor, remember that some people in the prospect's environment took political risk onboarding that vendor."

Instead of focusing on the competitor’s negatives, focus on your positives: how you can save them more time, increase their bottom line, etc. A tactful way to express the competition’s drawbacks without direct criticism is to tell a story about another client. Explain why that client decided to switch from the competitor to your solution, and how this improved their business.

Michael Peres

Michael Peres

Software Engineer, Journalist, Radio Host, Founder

17. Include Clear Terms & Conditions

Including the terms and conditions of your proposal helps clarify any questions your client may have once they have read your idea. Including the terms leads to a robust proposal that impresses clients. Michael Peres further explains why including these details is important:

"Further discussion of the project timeline, costs, and payment schedules will occur in this section. If the client accepts your proposal, it serves as a summary of the terms and circumstances to which you and the client will both be subjected. Ensure that you have addressed the terms and conditions with your internal legal staff before submitting the proposal to the customer."

My outlining these terms and conditions, it leaves no questions of what both you and the customer are being asked in the proposal. This leads to a professional and healthy relationship with a client.

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Max Whiteside

Sponsored Content Lead, Barbend

18. Consider Using a One-Page Proposal

A one-pager will also force you to exclude fluff from your proposal and focus on providing only the most useful information. Plus, it acts as a test of your knowledge about your prospect. If you fail, it’s time to do some more digging, as former Sales Manager at Barbend Max Whiteside recommends:

"If you can't fit it on one page printed, you don't have a full enough understanding of your prospect and their business to present a proposal. Go back to your discovery and ask more questions. If you want to win more business, provide value, not fluff."

One-page proposals are not only useful to boil down information, but also a good idea if you have a strong relationship with a client or if your offering is easy to understand. To learn how to create one, including a free template, read our article on one-page proposals.

Tips on Sending & Following Up With Business Proposals

When sending your business proposal, these sales professionals suggest multiple ways to get noticed and make clients read your proposal. Read these tips and tricks to lead to more closed deals and successful proposals.

Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas

Founder & CEO, eLearning Industry Inc.

19. Include a Call-To-Action (CTA)

Call-to-actions make your proposal actionable and direct. If you include a CTA, it will make clients understand the specific action they are being asked to take and will help them understand the direction your proposal is taking. Christopher Pappas from eLearning Industry further explains:

"A call to action is a specific request made to the reader of your proposal, your prospective client. These are typically included at the conclusion of proposals to encourage your prospective client to take a proactive move toward collaboration. Typical calls to action include inviting your prospective client to contact you to organize a meeting or proposing that they sign the contract included in your business proposal. A solid call to action sticks out in your proposal, instills a sense of urgency in your reader, and makes it very clear what you're asking of them."

Including a CTA can help increase your conversion rate and lead to successful relationship building with clients. If you do it correctly, it will strengthen your proposal and lead to more deal-wins.

Christiaan Huynen

Christiaan Huynen

CEO & Founder, DesignBro

20. Introduce a Sense of Urgency

People act quickly when they realize time is running out to seize an opportunity. One way you can do this is by including an urgent subject line. Christiaan Huynen of DesignBro explains:

"An email can easily be left unnoticed and worse, be left unread if it is not creative enough to catch a recipient's attention. Remember that an attractive subject line will appeal to your target market better if it has a sense of urgency. Formulating it as if it's the last chance of the customer to grab the discount deal will more likely be opened than other emails. People open your emails if they feel they will benefit, if they’re worried about missing out, or if you present convincing evidence about why they should. Use a killer line to draw interest from potential customers off the bat."

We recommend using this approach when you actually have a truthful reason for creating a deadline other than just instilling urgency. That way, you can write to the prospect why this deadline exists without stretching the truth, and they’ll know you’re not just playing mind games with them.

Olga Gonzalez

Olga Gonzalez

CEO, Pietra Communications

21. Send Your Proposal Quickly

If your prospect has requested a proposal, it’s crucial to send it within two days, before they forget how valuable your solution seemed during the presentation or are won over by your competitor. Pietra Communications CEO Olga Gonzalez backs this claim:

"The most important thing to do when writing a business proposal is to be timely. Respond in a timely manner to a prospect's inquiry, to follow-up with a discussion, and with sending the proposal. Any delays along the pipeline will create doubt, and another company will step right in to take your place."

To increase your speed, consider using proposal management software that helps you create, send, and track professional proposals. For more information, check out our roundup of the best business proposal software.

Jeff mains

Jeff Mains

CEO, Champion Leadership Group LLC

22. A/B Test Your Business Proposal Ideas

A/B testing is a fantastic way for salespeople to see the flaws and the wins of their sales processes. A/B testing your business proposal ideas can help you hone in on the right verbiage and what to include and not include in your proposal. Jeff Mains of Champion Leadership Group explains why this works:

"Web design and marketing professionals are well aware of one of the most effective methods of implementing changes to a website or document: testing it out beforehand. Experiment with different components of your ideas, one at a time, and monitor your results to determine what works. Won't placing your price information before your customer testimonials boost your win rate? Check it out with an A/B test and see what happens."

By analyzing your results and implementing the most effective methods into your business proposal, you will end up with a strong proposal that is destined to close.

ruti dadash

Ruti Dadash

Founder & CEO, Imperial Rank SEO

23. Include a Summary or Proposal Letter

Business can tend to be long and complex at first glance, so including a short summary at the beginning can help give an insight as to what your proposal is about. You should highlight the key factors of your proposal and try to hook your readers to want to learn more about your idea. Ruth Dadash of Imperial Rank SEO further explains this idea:

"Remember that some of the people who will be seeing the proposal - some of whom are likely to be decision makers - weren't actually at the meeting you had to discuss the project. Therefore, introduce the proposal with a summary of what their issue is, why they need a solution now - and how you can help their business. The goal here is to ensure everyone reading the proposal will be on the same page in understanding the urgency and importance of solving the issue, so they will value your proposed solution more."

An easy way to introduce a short idea of a proposal is to submit a business proposal letter. Check out our free and editable business proposal letter template here.

Chris Mitchell

Founder, Intelus Agency

24. Deliver Your Idea in a Proposal Review Meeting

A proposal review meeting gives your client the opportunity to ask questions and get more insight from you about your proposal. Adding the personal element to the pitch also makes your client understand who they would be working with. Chris Mitchell of Intelus Agency explains how they use review meetings to personalize the process:

"We get the best results when presenting the proposal on a Zoom call to answer questions, and handle objections. After the meeting is over, we send the proposal and use the highly detailed tracking feature to gauge their buying interest - helping us close deals faster."

Giving your clients the chance to object and ask questions gives you the chance to show your knowledge on your proposal. Preparing for possible objections is important before meetings. Check our our article about objection handling and a free script to use to prepare.

Bottom Line: Business Proposal Ideas

Business proposals provide your prospects with the information they need to feel comfortable during the lead nurturing stage. By far, the most common tip we received when asking experts was that the proposals should be personalized to each prospect’s specific needs and stated desires. This makes them feel understood, cared for, and confident in your ability to help them achieve their objectives.

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Download the static file now or subscribe to our newsletter and receive an editable template. Plus, get personalized, AI-powered article suggestions for lead generation, nurturing, deal-closing, CRM software & more. Sent biweekly. Never spam.
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