How to Write a One-Page Proposal for Sales + Template

Read our article on how to create a one-page proposal and snag our free one-page proposal template, plus examples and tips.

A one-page proposal is a single-page document designed to express the value and terms of the deal you’ve discussed with a potential buyer. It serves as an alternative to a full-blown proposal when the deal terms are simple, the price tag is small, if there’s an existing relationship with the client, and more. In this article, we’ll define a one-page proposal and show you the steps to create one. We’ll also give you a free template, plus examples and tips.

How a One-Page Proposal Works

A one-page proposal is a document sent during the business proposal stage of your sales process outlining the deal terms with a prospective customer. A one-pager typically includes the following sections: proposal scope, project overview, deliverables, cost, timeline, terms, next steps, and contact information. It’s used when a longer proposal isn’t needed and can be sent physically, as an email attachment, or in the body of an email itself.

For this reason, one-page proposals are used to close deals quickly with a comfortable prospect when robust lead nurturing isn’t needed. Often, you use one in tandem with a separate contract that the prospect can sign. Although, some businesses simply make the proposal the formal contract by offering space at the bottom for the prospect’s signature and sending it with e-signature software.

These one-pagers differ from full business proposals in that they’re a scaled-down version with much of the same information. For the sake of brevity, however, the one-pager leaves out elements that you would’ve otherwise included in a full proposal, like your business’s credentials or an executive summary. But this reduction in information offers some benefits, making them generally easier to create and understand, so they speed up the sales cycle.

A one-page proposal might be right for you based on the following:

  • Your Offer Has a Small Price Tag: If the cost is tiny in relation to the prospect’s revenue, they might not need a full proposal. Think of a freelance writer offering $1,000 worth of blog posts a month to a large SaaS brand that brings in seven figures a year. 
  • Your Prospect Has a Strong Relationship With Your Business: This also goes for current or past clients who know and trust your business. This takes trust to a whole new level when used with a new prospect. 
  • Your Project Is Simple: If your project is straightforward, one page might be all you need to clarify the specifics. Think of selling a product such as 50 office desks. 
  • Your Prospect Asks for Just One Page: Sometimes your prospect wants a clean one-page document that summarizes the project because they’re short on time.

If this doesn’t sound like your situation, consider using a full-length business proposal so you can include more information for the prospect in the document. Learn how to craft one in our article on how to create a business proposal — it comes with a free template that you can use as a starting point. Below, we’ll look at a template for those who need a one-page proposal, including the standard elements to include in yours.

Free One-Page Proposal Template & Structure

Here’s a free one-page proposal template that you can download and edit to fit your own needs. It’s completely customizable and designed to be personalized to your client, and it also includes a completed example on the second page. We’ll incorporate screenshots from the template throughout this article, especially within the steps to write a one-page proposal.

One page proposal template
One-page proposal template

How to Write an Effective One-Page Proposal

An effective one-page proposal should result in a closed deal. Each proposal will be personalized to each new prospect, and the details you include should change with their needs. But regardless of who’s receiving it, there are eight steps to follow to ensure your proposal answers all of the questions on the buyer’s mind.

Here are the eight steps to writing a one-page proposal: 

  1. Compile information about what to include in your proposal
  2. Write an intriguing title
  3. State the scope of the proposal
  4. Write a project overview
  5. Create a deliverables/timeline/pricing table
  6. Outline your terms & conditions
  7. Include a clear call-to-action
  8. Include contact information

Let’s now go over each step in-depth.

1. Compile Information for Your Proposal

First, identify everything you know about your deal, including information about your client, your solution, the timeline, what you need from them, and more. Don’t hold back. This process will help you organize and prioritize details before sitting down to actually write your proposal. That way you’ll avoid running out of space on the document. Distilling all the knowledge about a deal into one page is trickier than it sounds.

Now, with all the information in front of you, start to highlight or underline the details that are most relevant and interesting to your prospect. To help you select this information, think about the key questions your prospects want answered before they agree to start paying you. Answering these will speed up the deal by decreasing the number of follow-up objections or questions they have.

Your one-page proposal should resolve the following questions for your prospect: 

  • Does this product or service meet our specific needs? 
  • Does the timeline of implementation work for us? 
  • What’s the cost, and is it feasible and fair? 
  • What exactly will I receive? 
  • What does the seller expect from me in this business relationship? 
  • Does the seller’s approach or strategy make sense?

And don’t forget to think about yourself and what you need out of the agreement, especially if you’re using the one-page proposal as a legally binding contract. Specifics like how and when you’ll be paid and any rules you want the prospect to follow should also earn a highlight or underline. Now, let’s start actually creating your one-page proposal using this vital information.

2. Write an Intriguing Title

Your prospect is likely busy, especially if they are a high-level executive who asked you to send them just one page. Take that into account when crafting a title. Use it to give them context about what this document is. Also, use the title to summarize the rest of the proposal, as a proposal letter might do for a 10-page proposal. Lastly, make it appeal to their interests. Of course, doing all this in just one phrase is no easy task. But have no fear, we’ll help you out.

First, let’s look at the most boring one-page proposal title of them all: “Business Proposal for {ABC Company}.” Sure, it’s probably not hurting your chances of winning the deal, but it’s certainly not helping them. Instead, make use of the limited space you have and create an intriguing title that answers the busy prospect’s one vital question: “Why does this matter to me?” Do this by writing the specific value or solution you’ll be providing the prospect. 

Here are some examples of turning lifeless titles into ones that nearly dance off the page. 

Dead Title: Prop-Tech Proposal For ABC
Living Title: Slashing Your Violation Fines With Compliance Monitoring Software

Dead Title: Sales Training Business Proposal for XYZ 
Living Title: Training Your Reps to Open 50% More Sales Opportunities

Dead Title: Marketing Consulting Proposal
Living Title: A Content Marketing Plan for Increasing Quality Traffic to {Website}

You can use this title as a heading for the one-page proposal itself, or even as the email subject line if you’re sending it via email. You can even add a subtitle below to add any more information you might think is critical for the prospect to see right away.

3. State the Scope of the Proposal

Tell the prospect what this short proposal will cover. This paragraph acts as an introduction and should be about two sentences long. The first sentence should tell them what you’ll help the prospect do. The second should describe what elements are included in the proposal. It’s essentially just giving the reader context so that they know what to expect as they read through. This will answer a question on the prospect’s mind: What’s this document going to tell me?

Here’s the scope of proposal from our template:

Proposal scope example
Template scope of proposal

4. Give an Overview of the Project

Now give a summary of the project. This overview should tell the prospect what problem you’re solving for them, how you’re going to do it, and the main benefits they’ll receive after your service or product is delivered in full. This paragraph of about 3-4 sentences (aim for under 200 words) should give the buyer a sense that you fully understand their unique objectives and that you have a solid approach for achieving them.

This section should answer two big questions for the buyer:

  • Does this product or service meet our specific needs? 
  • Does the seller’s approach or strategy make sense?

Be sure to make this section about them rather than yourself. Hone in on the main pain point that makes their blood boil. And, to really speak to their heart, bring up phrasing that they used when telling you about the issue in your past conversations. Also, speak about the solution using similar terminology from when you shared it with them in your presentation or side-talks.

Here’s a project overview section from our template:

Project overview example
Template project overview

5. Create a Deliverables/Timeline/Estimated Pricing Table

You don’t necessarily need to portray this information in a table, but it’s a great way to save space. In one table, you’re able to say exactly what the prospect will receive, when they’ll get it, and how much they’re going to pay for it. Plus, this way, you break up the pricing into smaller parts of the whole, assigning costs to each deliverable or phase of the service. This breakdown makes the overall cost easier to understand and therefore accept.

Deliverables/Timeline/Estimated Pricing table
Template estimated pricing table

Now let’s discuss these three portions of your table so that you understand the key points to include and how to customize each one to fit your unique business situation.

Deliverables

Deliverables are what the prospect will receive for their payment. It could be a tangible product or an intangible service. If you were selling a financial advisory service, you’d perhaps supply them with a packet of stock recommendations for their specific situation. An office supplies store might deliver 100 desks. Describing services is a bit more nuanced, so it helps to break your project down into phases or milestones, like in SlideTeam’s example below:

Service phases example
Example service phases

Timeline

Your prospect wants to know how long it will take you to do each part of the project. This helps them plan. It also allows them to ensure that your timeline or implementation process lines up with their desired schedule. Your timeline can be expressed as a duration (1-2 weeks) of a phase or set by specific dates.

Use a format that makes sense for your specific project. For instance, a freelance writer might simply break it into three two-week durations that coincide with the delivery of each new ebook. Meanwhile, a software solution might set precise dates for each part of the implementation. Integration might start on July 1st, onboarding on July 15th, training on August 1st, and full use on August 30th.

Pricing

Some proposals might use estimated costs, especially those drafted by service-based businesses. That’s because unanticipated costs come up during projects. For example, a marketing agency might need to increase the Google Ads budget for a prospect because of changes in the demand for a specific keyword. Make these potential fluctuations known to the prospect during a call and on the proposal/contract so that they understand why it’s an estimated cost and that it may change.

6. Outline Your Terms & Conditions

These are the rules of the agreement. It outlines what you expect from the prospect, primarily in regards to the payment. Stipulate how you’d like to be paid and on what dates. Also, if you need access to certain accounts or want them to follow any rules, such as communicating with you only by email, include this in the terms section. Many companies use an attached contract to do the heavy lifting for the legal aspects of the deal, so they’ll just include the payment terms here.

Terms and next steps (CTA) example
Template terms and next steps

7. Include a Clear Call-to-Action

Finally, make your call-to-action. If you have a separate contract you want them to sign, tell them where it’s located and give any necessary information about how to sign it. The contract will give more specific terms about the legal aspects of the deal, which the proposal may only summarize. If you’re working in a corporate environment with high-priced solutions, you might have contracts that are much longer than the one-page proposal.

If you want to learn more about how to use these two documents together, read Matt Olpinski’s article on the difference between contracts and proposals. If you’re using this one-page proposal as a contract, add a space or line for them to sign and date the document. Clearly state that this will be a legally binding contract once signed, like in PandaDoc’s example below:

Signature on proposal example
Signature on proposal example

8. Include Contact Information

Give your prospect an easy way to contact you should they have any questions or to learn more about your business. At the bottom of the document, write your name, your business’s name, and your contact information. Also link to your company’s “about us” page. If you have testimonials, a portfolio, or case studies you’d like the prospect to see, link out to these pages in this section, as well.

Contact info example
Template contact info

Top 3 One-Page Proposal Examples

Before you write your own one-page proposal, take a peek at some examples. From these, you’ll gain inspiration, ideas, and strategies that you can then apply to your own proposal. It’s important to note that the three proposals below also act as templates, meaning they’re available for download. So, if one fits your needs better than our template, consider using it.

However, the final two templates (from SlideTeam) are available only to those with a membership, starting at $49.99/month. PandaDoc’s is free when you sign up. Our one-page proposal template and example, on the other hand, is free with no action needed. Let’s dive into these proposal examples and see why they work.

Generic One-Page Proposal Example

We’re showing you PandaDoc’s one-page proposal example because we like the way it’s structured. It begins with an executive summary, much like the project overview we recommend in our own template. The proposal then uses a creative way to express the deliverables the prospect will receive; in a table, it puts them up against the specific client challenge they’ll solve.

This example is also relevant for businesses using upfront billing or ramped payment plans. Note that in their payment schedule, they ask for 25% of the total payment upon acceptance of the contract and half upon delivery of the first product. 

Generic one-page proposal example
Example generic one-page proposal

Construction Project One-Page Proposal Example

We like SlideTeam’s one-page proposal example for a construction project because of its flattering and creative design. It’s full of images, icons, and photos that really make the document come alive. We also appreciate how the proposal expresses their project timeline using a table that lists key tasks, explanations of those tasks, and the start/end dates. This helps the prospect visualize what to expect and alleviates any fear of the unknown.

Construction one page proposal example
Example construction one-page proposal

Marketing Services One-Page Proposal Example

SlideTeam’s one-page proposal example for marketing services takes a unique approach to the project overview section of the proposal; instead of writing it out in paragraph form, they use a flowchart that tells the prospect the main purpose of the project, the objectives it’ll achieve, and the positive results of hitting those objectives. Lastly, they hit the buyer with the high-level impact the project will have on their business.

Marketing services one page proposal example
Example marketing services one-page proposal

3 Best One-Page Proposal Tips

There are some best practices that can set your proposal apart from the competition. Let’s go over three of the most impactful proposal tips: use smart formatting, employ copywriting tactics, and leverage proposal management software.

Use Space-Saving Formatting

In this type of proposal, you have to fit a lot of key points into one page. Proper formatting techniques will be your friend in this task. Smart formatting also ensures that the page seems clean and calm rather than messy and busy. This makes the reading experience more pleasant for the prospect. You want them to have positive emotions while thinking about your product or service (you wouldn’t hold your sales presentation outside in a rainstorm).

Here are some formatting tactics: 

  • Use Whitespace to Separate Sections: This keeps the page from looking messy. 
  • Use Tables or Flowcharts to Split up Sections: For example, if you include deliverables and timeline sections, consider putting them next to each other in a table rather than in paragraphs. 
  • Include Images: Photos, graphics, or icons can help break up walls of text while also adding a more appealing look to your proposal. 
  • Ensure It’s One Page: Before sending your proposal, download it as a PDF and preview it.

These formatting methods will help you fit everything that’ll help close the deal onto the page.

Employ Copywriting Best Practices

Copywriting is sales in the written word. In longer form sales documents, like the proposal, copywriting tactics keep the reader engaged and excited to keep reading. They also make sure the sales messaging is clear and easy to understand. Here are a few tricks of the trade. 

  • Make It About Them: Use “you” far more than “we,” especially in your project overview. 
  • Use Short Sentences: This keeps the momentum up and ensures high comprehension. Some readers can get lost in a long sentence. 
  • Avoid Fluff: Include only the words that are necessary to get your point across. 
  • Use the Active Voice: This is when a subject of a sentence does an action. In the passive voice, the subject is being acted upon: “Money is saved by the software.” Active voice increases the force of your sentences: “The software saves you money.”

These copywriting tactics should help you keep the prospect’s eyes open wide with interest and moving down the document.

Leverage Proposal Management Software

Proposal management software refers to web-based platforms designed to automate and streamline proposal creation, management, and analysis of effectiveness. They also come with one-page proposal templates you can download, edit, and send. Then, you can track each proposal’s close rates and improve them over time. Read our article on the best proposal management software to learn more about how they work and to choose the right one for you.

If that sounds like too much and all you need is a software platform that enables you to include esignatures on your proposals, we recommend esignature software. These tools allow the recipients of your one-page proposal to easily add their signatures to the digital document from their laptop, mobile device, or tablet. To learn more, check out our guide on esignature software.

Bottom Line

Sending a well-crafted one-page proposal has the opportunity to be the final sales action you take to close your deal. In just one page, it can drive home the value of your solution and illuminate the specifics of the project, thereby making the prospect feel ready to sign. But often, the job isn’t done just yet. If the prospect has any questions, be there to answer them and help the prospect gain clarity. Give them a taste of how wonderful it is having you as a teammate.

Selling Signals
Actionable advice for sales professionals
Address
355 Lexington Ave,
18th Floor,
New York, NY, 10017
COPYRIGHT SELLING SIGNALS, LLC – 2021