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A business proposal letter is a one-page document that serves as the persuasive summary or cover letter for a comprehensive business proposal. Its goal is to briefly highlight the most important aspects of your full proposal. While not required, it’s good to use if you want to convey a higher level of professionalism, to build trust or credibility, to provide added context, or if you want to deliver a short pitch. You can then send it in an email or as a physical copy.
A good proposal letter is formatted as a single page containing 3-4 paragraphs and fewer than 400 words, with five key elements. First, for formal proposal letters, include a business heading with your contact information and the contact information of the prospect. Then, briefly introduce your company before stating the purpose of your proposal, which includes the problem, solution, and key benefits. End with a strong call-to-action and outro signature.
Once you draft your business proposal letter, send it to your prospect or main point of contact along with your full business proposal. To do so, you can mail a hardcopy to your prospect with the letter on top and the proposal underneath. More commonly, you can email it. If your contact is the decision maker, paste the letter into the body of an email and attach the proposal. If your contact might forward your email to others, also make the letter the first page of your attached business proposal.
Remember that just like your full business proposal, your proposal letter should be customized for your unique prospect. It should also accurately summarize and tease your business proposal, so make sure the information between the two documents are aligned and build off each other. For information on writing a full-blown business proposal and how it ties into your proposal letter, read our article on how to create a business proposal.
In some cases, people use the terms “business proposal letter” and “business proposal” interchangeably. This refers specifically to a one-page business proposal. Businesses selling smaller projects or drafting a proposal to companies they have a good relationship with often use a one-page proposal containing both the letter and details.
We’ve created a free business proposal letter template that incorporates the crucial elements listed above, as well as examples of what to write for each. Personalize it to your specific sales situation by simply replacing the words in parentheses (aka, the fields) with your own writing. We’ll show you how to do this throughout the article, incorporating screenshots of each section.
Check out each of the major components of an effective business proposal letter below, starting with business headings. Then, follow our step-by-step instructions to create your own business proposal letter.
Business headings provide a formal touch for your business proposal letter and include contact information for your business as well as the recipients, such as the business name, address, and points of contact. For more informal business proposal letters or proposal letters you send via email, you can consider omitting this portion of your letter.
Your introduction is an opportunity to re-introduce yourself and remind your lead, prospect, or recipient why you're sending the associated proposal. This also gives you a chance to provide any relevant social proof to prime them before reading your full proposal, as well as tease the overall purpose.
This acts as a summary of the most important contents of your business proposal: their problem, your solution, and the benefits the prospect will receive. This gives you a chance to highlight the most important points of your proposal and accurately communicate your elevator pitch or USP for the scanning reader. Keep to 175 words max and use bullet points when relevant for ease-of-reading.
Conclude with a sentence that tells the reader what to do next. Usually, this next step will be to read your attached proposal, but can also be to request a call or meeting to review the proposal together or to ask and answer any questions that may have arisen after reviewing. If this is the case, use concrete language with a specific ask, such as "use my Calendly link to book a time to connect this week."
End with a polite outro stating how excited you are about the opportunity to work together. Then, sign the document if it's a physical copy, or use a professional email signature if you're sending it via email.
To write a letter that effectively introduces and summarizes the proposal, draft each of the five elements in order. Be brief and to the point, including only the most crucial information and using clear, simple language to help the reader remain engaged. Personalize the letter so the prospect feels that you’ve listened to and truly understood their specific needs — this can inspire them to work with you over your competitors.
Add business headings to the top left-hand side of your letter, listing standard information about both your business and your prospect’s. List full names, job titles, companies, addresses, and contact information, as shown below. This helps the reader know this letter is for them and which business it’s from, which can be helpful if they’re assessing multiple vendors.
Some business proposals also include the date at the top, above the business headings. Some make their business information a header across the top of the page and paste their logo onto it. Do what you think looks best, and combine rows to save space if needed. This element is essentially a formality. As long as it looks organized and professional, it won’t impact the success rate of your proposal. If it looks sloppy, it might hurt it.
The introduction element is the beginning of the body of your proposal letter, starting with a greeting like “Dear” (most professional) and ending with a segue into the statement of purpose. Personalize the introduction to the prospect’s unique situation to make them feel understood; do this by beginning with background information that you’ve uncovered through conversations with them, like the agreed-upon value proposition. Keep it under 100 words, if possible.
Let’s go over the bolded fields in our template using the screenshot below. Include individual and business names, plus the following:
Now it’s time to write the statement of purpose element of your business proposal letter. This is arguably the most critical portion of the letter, so it receives the greatest length: about 175 words. It summarizes what the prospect will learn in the attached proposal and the proposal’s purpose: to show them how you’ll help them solve a problem or achieve a goal. This element should also highlight some key benefits or your unique selling proposition (USP) to increase their curiosity.
Below are the statement of purpose fields and how to complete them:
You may be wondering if cost should get a spot in the letter. It’s generally best practice to exclude cost. There’s a reason the pricing comes at the end of the full proposal — by then, the prospect will fully understand the value you offer, which makes the cost more digestible. The only time you’d include your cost is if it were a main selling point (perhaps your cost is far below the competition’s), in which case you’d include it in the paragraph after the bulleted list.
Your call-to-action (CTA) is where you tell the prospect what you want them to do next. This is typically to open and read the attached business proposal. You can also ask them to call or email you when they’ve finished reading it or as questions arise, or to set up a meeting in advance so they’ll finish reading it by the time you connect again.
Here are four potential CTAs to use:
As you can see, each CTA tells the recipient to read the proposal, but the last two CTAs lay out next steps for what the prospect should do after they’ve finished reading. This tactic is more effective because it solidifies next steps. We recommend going with an option that politely nudges the prospect to commit to a future meeting during which you can discuss the proposal and move the sale to a close. This accelerates the sales cycle velocity.
If you prefer a gentler approach, use the CTA in our template:
Your outro should be 1-2 sentences expressing confidence in your proposal while also thanking the prospect for considering you as a potential partner, supplier, or vendor. This ends the letter on a friendly note and also gives one last reason why reading the proposal will be beneficial. Below the final line of the body, sign off using “sincerely” and your full name or email signature, shown here:
A handwritten signature adds a personal touch. If you don’t already have an esignature, you can easily include one by signing a piece of paper, taking a photo, then pasting that image into the Word, Google Docs, or PDF document of your letter.
In addition to the template we’ve given you above, there are also some real-world examples of proposal letters to learn from.
Take a look at these three business proposal letter examples we from around the web by scrolling left and right below. You can learn new techniques, formats, and phrasing from each of them. The more you study other businesses’ proposal letters, the better you’ll be at crafting your own.
In this example, the company is introducing a proposal for their marketing services. Notice that the letter immediately mentions how the project will satisfy the needs of the recipient. It also uses a bulleted list to explain the main benefits of the project. Therefore, it’s easy to review.
Because the letter makes a few claims (e.g., a 30% acquisition cost reduction), the full proposal should explain how the seller arrived at each number. Also note that the elements this example lacks are an adequate CTA and a signature — we recommend including both.
In this proposal letter example, a business is introducing its business proposal for payroll services. Notice how it uses its logo as a border for its own portion of the business heading. The letter also does a good job of opening with background information: a meeting they had last week and the main pain point they discussed.
The attached proposal seems to focus mainly on the costs of the service, so this letter is shorter than usual. This is okay — different selling scenarios call for different-sized letters. If you have a long-term client who wants another product delivery but doesn’t want the whole “dog and pony show,” you may just introduce the cost summary in the letter.
Indeed's business proposal letter example follows a similar structure to the one we recommend. They nail the introduction and statement of purpose, spending a full paragraph describing the main problem the prospect is having with their website and how they’ll fix it. Although, you’ll notice it includes other elements like cost and a case study, which are usually found in the attached proposal. That’s because this is acting as both the letter and the proposal.
Some businesses do this to save time. If you’re pitching a current client on a product or service upgrade, they might tell you they don’t need the full proposal. Smaller businesses like freelance writers or web designers might not have the bandwidth to craft a long proposal. We have an article on a one-page proposal that goes in depth on this concept and how/when to use one.
A business proposal letter isn’t required when sending a full proposal. However, it has many benefits, and you should strongly consider it. Salespeople write business proposal letters for these reasons:
Overall, use proposal letters on a case-by-case basis, rather than trying a one size fits all solution.
Your business proposal letter is an effective lead nurturing tool and is your business proposal’s first impression. It sets the tone for what’s to come and gets the prospect excited about reading your plan to help them actualize their desires and goals. To do this effectively, it must first and foremost focus on the prospect. Accolades and rewards aside, your business must take the backseat here. Use this single page to show the prospect you know exactly how to help.