What’s the Best Business Proposal Format?

Best Business Proposal Format
Whether just starting off with your business or looking for clients for an already established one, a strong business proposal idea is equally important. A well-tailored business proposal can make all the difference between your business falling through the cracks and soaring to new heights. If you’re looking for business proposal ideas you’ve come to the right place. Business proposals need to ensure two basic outcomes a) Make you stand out from the rest and, b) Present a compelling offer to your prospects. But before you can even begin to craft your business proposal, you need a clear idea about what a business proposal is and how to develop the best business proposal to feature your business or your clients’ needs. There is no such thing as a standard proposal format, but there are certain elements that must be on your proposal. Instead of focusing on what and how to write, we have collected some ideas that will enhance the proposals’ capability to persuade your prospects into doing business with you.

What is a Business Proposal

According to the Shipley Associates – Proposal Guide, the term business proposal refers to a written offer from a seller to a business prospect. Business proposals are designed to compel a buyer to consider more than the price during purchase. To further expand a proposal carries the sellers understanding of the buyers problems and educates the buyer about the sellers capabilities.

Ideas for never-failing proposals

Ideas for Never-Failing Proposals

It’s very difficult to build up a quality proposal from scratch with little experience. Moreover, using generalised proposal techniques is considered to be a big no-no. The reason behind it is you can’t stand out among the competition if you don’t bring anything new. To make matters easier we’ve gathered a few fool-proof business proposal ideas that unite marketing and sales concepts to create a structured experience for your prospects.

Ideas for Never-Failing Proposals

Covering the issues with this business proposal idea mentioned above will not only make your proposal carry the weight of your business but also create a sense of kinship with your prospects. You can better engage your prospects’ interests if you focus on their problems instead of the services your business provides. Also this flow of information will bring your prospect in a much more accepting headspace giving you a competitive edge.

Idea #1- Include testimonials

Testimonials create the footing for the claims you make in your proposal. A testimonial can be anything from a recommendation or review from a previous client to a detailed case study of a successful venture you have been involved in. Credibility is the first step of building trust and nothing does it better than a relevant success story. 


Even if you think a large case study may not be appropriate in your case, try adding in the core context of what the problem was and how you were able to solve it. A short business proposal with adequate testimony can outplay a detailed proposal with no testimonial anyday.

Idea #2 – Limit their options

Analysis paralysis is a very common phenomenon in the buy and sell environment. It is a situation where a buyer is given too many options that overwhelm their attention span and delays the final purchase. 

Giving your client the option to choose between 8 different packages creates a similar situation. Think about it, you’ve sent a proposal to your client where they need to choose whether they want to utilise your service or not. Including all the pricing options within the proposal burdens your prospect with an added choice of which package to choose. This delays the closing process of the deal and might even overwhelm your prospect to the point of moving onto a simpler choice. 

To avoid this, make only one offer, with one or two flexible options. This reduces the number of decisions your prospect needs to make while also creating space for following-up on the proposal if your prospect needs it. 

Idea #3 – Make it scarce

FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, is a very prevalent effect in investing and marketing. Stating your offer as an opportunity makes an argument for your prospect where they stand to lose certain benefits if they miss the opportunity to do business with you.

The idea here is to make an offer that is not indefinite. Put in a deadline so that your prospect is compelled to make a decision helping you to close the deal as soon as possible. However, you need to provide them with proper time to decide to begin with.

Idea #4 – Add a CTA at the end

A well-structured proposal needs to contain at least one clear call-to-action. This provides your prospect an opportunity to interact with you immediately after reading your proposal. Call-to-actions will vary depending on your proposal ranging from a simple information form to even payment options. Remember to make it clear so your prospect knows exactly what to do.

Idea #5 Use simple and easy-to-understand language

A common rule of thumb is business people don’t appreciate technical jargon. So your proposal needs to be readable by non-technical individuals. Remember to use short sentences and avoid passive sentences because this reduces readability. Find non-technical terminology that best describes what you want to say without misleading you prospects in any way. If you want to learn more on business writing,, you can try out our Business Communication & Business Writing Skills Diploma course.

Best formatting practices

It’s also a good idea to clearly outline the next steps the client should take to get the project started at the end of the proposal.

Use Legible Fonts and Formatting

Legible fonts will make your proposal pleasant to look at making it more likely to be read entirely. Avoid using swirly or decorative fonts in a business setting. Make sure to use appropriate font size in headers and paragraphs. To make it clear we’ve made an infographic showing fonts you should and shouldn’t use. You may use italics for text that needs emphasis or is distinct in someway. Lastly, to break up your text and make it easier to read, use bullet points or numbered lists.

business proposal ideas

Use Legible Fonts and Formatting

Another good way to reduce the amount of text in your proposal is to use visual representation. The easiest way is to include images in your proposal. As the famous quote says “A picture says a thousand words” – adding relevant images will give your proposal to create a mindset towards your ideas. You may include photos of yourself as well as your team members. 


Statistical charts or graphs to visually represent important data is another good way to space out information while also consolidating it for better understanding.  We at Janets applied the same principle here with our infographic on the most common ways to represent data. You can further include matrix diagrams and spike plots, that can be used to represent dynamic over the time data (i.e. growth patterns, monthly revenue etc.)  Last but not the least, use popular icons to represent activities and to make brand associations clear.

business proposal ideas

Personalize the Covers

Consider your cover not only as the face for your proposal but rather your company and yourself. Without a well-made cover, the chances of your proposal standing out are remarkably low. Each business proposal needs to be unique and that uniqueness starts with a cover photo. A very good idea in this regard is to incorporate your company’s colour scheme on the cover as well as inside your proposal. This creates a brand impression giving a sense of familiarity with your business. 


Try to include images that complement your proposal ideas in the cover. Sometimes changing the colour scheme can make all the difference. We made three covers from one cover template by only switching up the colours as an example. You should customize your cover to reflect your business, your prospects expectations and your core idea as well.  

business proposal ideas

Ending Notes

This blog is not intended to be a one stop guide, rather it touches the key concepts and standards that make a good proposal into a great one. If you can incorporate these appropriately in your business proposals we believe the outcomes will speak for themselves. Keep in mind though no two proposals can be the same because the original business solution you provide for your particular prospects can’t be recreated. Hence, it’s a better call to treat each proposal you write as a separate piece in and of itself. The business proposal ideas we’ve featured represent the industry standard and will help your prospects see your vigour and enthusiasm woven between the lines. 

While researching for this blog we found many websites recommending proposal templates that can be utilised to save time in the design and formatting process. Here is a YouTube tutorial on using a particular template software to generate mail ready proposals in no time. 

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