How to Write a Proposal in 10 Steps 

How to Write a Proposal in 10 Steps 
Brian Nuckols

Written by:
Brian Nuckols

Jul 31, 2020
how to write a proposal - header

The process of learning how to write a proposal of any type can be challenging. When you develop a proposal, you’re explicitly asking someone to make a choice and take action.

Before you go down that road, it’s helpful to understand how to write a proposal in step-by-step form. Your proposal has a few overarching goals it needs to accomplish to create a successful outcome. 

First, you have to clearly communicate that you understand your audience's problem. Then, you must lay out all the reasons why your company, solution or approach is the best option for them.

If you learn how to properly write a proposal, you can directly connect your product or service with the needs of your audience. 

Proposals have the power to give informative overviews of your value proposition while including all of the persuasive elements needed for your audience to go from on the edge to a resounding yes. 

Let’s get started with some of the essential strategies that’ll help you learn how to write proposals that will help you reach your goals. 

When you’re ready to get started on your own proposal, Visme will help you share your message with professionally designed proposal templates like the ones below.

Proposal Templates

Create engaging proposals online quickly and easily by getting started with one of Visme’s premade templates. Create enticing offers that sell your services. Find a free proposal template that you can easily customize with your own information.

How to Write a Proposal

The great thing about learning how to write a proposal is that you can use a predefined structure and outline to help you organize your message.

Think of the process of writing a business proposal in relation to a home improvement project. These projects can vary based on factors like your preferences, location and available resources. 

However, what they all share is a set of directions or blueprints for you to follow. Think of this article as the blueprint for your business proposal and the directions for how to write it. 

There are three fundamental aspects that you need before going into more depth about the logistics of how to write a business proposal. 

  1. The basic details about your company: Why should your audience choose you as a client? What are some of your accomplishments and qualifications? Who are you on a more personal level? 
  2. Proof of your knowledge and experience: A proposal is an opportunity to make it clear you understand what the client needs.
  3. Details about what you do and how much it costs: What is your process for solving your audience's problem? What are their pricing options for getting it done? 

Use a proposal template like the one below to ensure you cover all your bases.

how to write a proposal - proposal template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Now that we’ve explored the basic things you need, let’s dive into all the details of writing a persuasive business proposal! 

Step 1: Create a Title Page

The first page you need when creating a business proposal is the title page. It should include some important overarching information like your contact details, company name and logo. 

Additionally, make sure to add a date and a descriptive title. 

Adding both the descriptive details about your company with a custom date and title is important. These two elements together help the proposal look both organized and personalized to the recipient of the proposal. 

how to write a proposal - title page template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 2: Begin With a Cover Letter

Step two in writing your proposal is to add a cover letter. This is an excellent bridge into the proposal because it gives you a chance to introduce yourself more fully to your audience. 

The cover letter is like a brief description about your company and why you do what you do.

It’s a good idea to add some background information on your company like your origin story and how you developed your valuable products or services.  

Also, it’s important to add an overview of why your solutions are uniquely capable of making a difference in your audience's life. 

how to write a proposal - cover letter template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 3: Craft a Table of Contents

The next step in writing a proposal that inspires action is to create a table of contents. This gives your proposal an outline form that helps your audience understand what they’re reading from a birds eye view. 

This is helpful for the reader because they can see exactly how the proposal is laid out and understand what’s coming next. Additionally, they can more easily navigate the critical sections at each level of the decision making process. 

You can also make your table of contents interactive by linking each section to its corresponding page.

how to write a proposal - table of contents template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 4: Write Your Executive Summary

The next step for writing a proposal is to create the executive summary. This is a critical aspect of any proposal because it’s setting the stage for the problem and solution section. 

In the executive summary, you want to cover a number of important topics. Why is it important for your audience to read the proposal? 

Next, you’ll want to make sure to bring together the struggles your reader is having with your unique offerings and services. 

The word to focus on in the executive summary is why. This summary should convey the exact details of why the person reading needs your help. 

This engaging approach is likely to grab your audience's attention and prepare them for the critical pages that follow. 

how to write a proposal - executive summary template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 5: Put Together the Proposal Itself

This section outlines the solution that you’re suggesting. It’s the most crucial section of the entire proposal. There are a few components that you absolutely must cover in this section. 

First, you want to make sure you share your vision of the future if this proposal is accepted. Included in this vision should be any desired outcomes, along with a preliminary timeline. 

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re addressing the unique needs of the particular client or group of decision makers that will be viewing your proposal.  

Because this is such a crucial section when it comes to how to write an effective proposal, it’s worth breaking things down further to make sure you nail this section.

The Problem or Need

Make sure you articulate the reason this proposal exists in clear and concrete language. 

In this part of step five, you need to provide a summary of why this audience needs your help. It’s a great chance to demonstrate the clarity you have when it comes to serving this potential client's needs. 

If you’re ready to highlight the problem or need your audience has, Visme can help. Check out our video on document design to learn more about showcasing this problem with a great proposal design. 

The Solution

In the next part of step five, you have the opportunity to share your vision.

In short, you want to share your overall strategy and any specific tactics you’ll bring to solve the problem or need you explained above. 

To reiterate something that’s appeared a few times in this article, this is a great time to demonstrate the personalized aspect of the proposal. It should be crystal clear that this proposal was designed specifically for this audience. 

Additionally, it’s a great place to outline what the final deliverables will be, the process you use and an expected timeframe.

how to write a proposal - proposal template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 6: Outline Your Services

The sixth step is a basic outline of your services. This is a concrete and standalone page that is highly specific. 

While the proposal section in step five gave a general outline of your offer, this page dives into the details. 

If you receive the same questions about your product and services again and again, this is the perfect place to anticipate them with an answer. 

You want to use this page as an opportunity to take your reader through the process of working with you from A-Z. After reading, they should know exactly what to expect if they say yes to your proposal. 

how to write a proposal - services template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 7: Share More About Who You Are

In the seventh step of writing your proposal, you want to create an about us page. 

This is where you get the chance to give your audience a feel for what makes your company unique. Make sure you add a bio and photo of yourself and anyone the reader will be working with. 

Also, add any great social proof, industry recognition, testimonials or case studies into this section. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate that you’re the one to solve the problem and that you can be trusted. 

how to write a proposal - about us template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 8: Showcase Pricing Options

While all the sections are crucial, the pricing page is critical. You want to make sure to have all the specifics added and that the proposal design decisions are well thought out. 

Using a tool like Visme is a great way to implement professional design without the need for professional designers. 

This is essential for the pricing section because it’s natural for various stakeholders to return to this section early and often throughout the decision making process. 

Make sure your pricing table is clear in labeling any product or service you are offering. 

how to write a proposal - pricing template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 9: Add Terms and Conditions

In the ninth step of the proposal, you want to add any terms and conditions that will apply if your reader accepts the proposal. 

Some important elements to add in this section of the proposal is the duration of the agreement, payment dates, payment details, the timetable for project completion and a section on ways the proposal can be amended by either party. 

Overall, this is a concrete summary of exactly what you’re agreeing to in the proposal.

If you have a legal team, it’s a great idea to check in with them to see if you have any standard conditions you need to add to the proposal. 

how to write a proposal - terms and conditions template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 10: Propose an Offer With a CTA

The final step of your proposal is to make an offer with a clear call-to-action (CTA). Make it clear how you want the reader to take action and exactly what they need to do. 

Whether it’s asking for a signature or creating a button to take them to a payment page you want to make sure the directions are clear, precise and persuasive. 

If you want to use an interactive button for your CTA, use Visme to create a button that will drive traffic from your proposal to a landing page.

how to write a proposal - call-to-action template
Customize this proposal template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Master Writing Proposals With Visme

It’s your turn! Now that we’ve explored  the 10 steps for how to write a proposal it's time to sign up for your own Visme account, head over to our templates and start designing your next persuasive proposal!

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    About the Author

    Brian Nuckols is a writer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enjoys communicating visionary ideas in clear, action oriented language. When he’s not working on content for a transformative company you can find him analyzing dreams, creating music, and writing poetry.

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