Definition: A business proposal, sometimes called a “sales proposal,” is often the last step you’ll have to conquer to get a check from a potential customer. A well-written, clearly communicated proposal should result in a sale, which is a win-win for both you and your customer.

Templated Structure

Below is an outline for business proposal template. This is a common structure for web designers and programmers to lay their proposals out. This is an example from a project billed by a flat rate (non-hourly billing).

What is the end product?

This can also be called the “statement of work”.

Goal: This area is where you set the expectation of what you will deliver to the client. Answer: Company ABC will deliver a website with a WordPress backend to the client. Side note: It is very important to outline exactly what functionality the client is going to be receiving at the end of this project. Sometimes, especially if you’ve had several meetings about long-term plans, you need to outline what they’re not getting here. Did you talk to them about marketing in the coming months? Be sure they don’t think they’re getting later deliverables in this phase of the project.

Project Schedule

Answer: Company ABC will deliver the above mentioned functionality for final approval by MM/DD/YYYY.

Outline Communication

Goal: This is where you outline how you will communicate with your client. Set their expectation. If you want them calling you every day, tell them when they should expect updates from you. Don’t leave them wondering when you’ll communicate with them. Answer: Company ABC will communicate through a weekly client phone call to discuss project progress. Company ABC will deliver three design concepts for the client to make changes to. The designs will be delivered by MM/DD/YYYY using Hours of collaboration and changes not to exceed 20 hours.

Client Must Deliver…

Goal: This is where you set the expectation that YOU have of your client. The client will enter the content of the website into their WordPress back-end. Answer: Company ABC requires the client to deliver previous artwork from billboards, brochures, etc. to contain a vector format of the company’s logo before MM/DD/YYYY. Tip: This is a good place to specify that they still have to pay you in full, even if they never deliver the logo to you.

Quality Assurance

Goal: This final paragraph is where you explain how the client knows when the project is over. If you don’t specify when/what a finalized project looks like, they’ll push you until you’ve added extra things. This doesn’t mean the client is bad, it just means you have not clearly explained your expectation of them. Answer: Company ABC will upload the client website to a staging server by MM/DD/YYYY, the client will be emailed a username and password for the client to add their own website content. At this point, the website project is finalized, and an invoice will be sent for the final payment. Company ABC will set the project live on the Internet when the client is ready, but final payment is due before the website is live. Final payment is NOT contingent on the client adding content. Never make your client’s tasks a possible blocker for you getting paid. Side Note: Many times final payments will get delayed due to the client’s inability to deliver their final pieces. Do not allow their procrastination to create your cash-flow issues.

If written properly, a proposal will eliminate potential confusion down the road with the client. Confusion sours projects, puts hiccups in your cash flow and can even sink your business.

Do you have “must have” things in your proposal template?

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