Proposal Template

What is a Proposal Template?

A proposal template is a document used as a blueprint for creating a business proposal. A business proposal could be for sales, marketing, professional services, a partnership, or any business arrangement requiring an agreement between two parties.

With business proposal templates, companies standardize the way proposals look and feel, allowing them to create high-quality documents that accurately and professionally represent their products or services.

They are usually branded with company logos, colors, and fonts so that they quickly communicate the company’s identity.

Using a standard template also saves time by eliminating the need to build a new document from scratch for each proposal a business creates.

Typically, organizations use proposal software to generate and store business proposal templates with pricing, product, and service data, making it easy for sellers and company stakeholders to drag and drop the necessary information into a template and customize it to fit their needs.

Synonyms

How a Template Simplifies the Proposal Process

Templatizing proposals saves time at every step of the proposal generation process.

1. Outlining and Formatting

Originally, companies had two options for creating business proposals:

  • Writing them by hand in a Google Doc or Word template (easier and faster, but yields bland proposals)
  • Assembling them in design software like Photoshop (requires a whole additional skill set, but creates nice-looking custom proposals)

Both choices are painstaking — setting up the right formatting takes hours, and the formatting process has to be repeated for every new proposal.

Since organizations have repeatable processes — that is, they sell the same product or service over and over — templatizing their business documents with standard content and formatting helps them to save significant time and energy.

2. Branding and Customization

Proposal templates also make it easy for companies to quickly customize their content by easily swapping out logos, colors, fonts, images, and clever copy that reinforces their brand identity.

Providing stakeholders with a predefined set of rules ensures they can craft an effective business proposal every time — this ensures that the document will look and feel “on brand” with a consistent voice.

3. Writing

When companies use standardized templates to create business proposals, they have access to an array of tools for quickly populating documents with pricing details, product configuration, and sales literature.

Since the remainder of the content is already standardized, the team member responsible for generating the proposal will only need to adjust the pre-defined sections and fill in any new information.

4. Document Generation

Document generation shouldn’t be difficult, but it is with traditional proposal generation methods. Since Word documents and graphic design vectors aren’t compatible, the document generation process can take even longer.

Standardized proposal templates are easily converted into PDFs, so potential clients can quickly and easily view the documents without worrying about compatibility issues.

5. Submitting and Tracking

Proposal templates streamline the delivery process by providing companies with a single source of truth for an evergreen document. Delivering a proposal is as easy as sharing the template’s download link or attaching it to an email.

When companies store their templates in proposal software, they can also:

  • Automate approval workflows to get proposals sent out faster
  • Track progress to understand what’s happening with a proposal
  • Keep all proposals in one place for auditing and reporting purposes
  • Update proposal status in CRM for added sales pipeline visibility

6. E-Signature

E-signature software cuts hard costs by 56%, accelerates quote-to-cash, and improves sales productivity by reducing the workload on sales teams.

Plus, potential customers prefer to sign documents, share them with their teams, and make payments when it’s convenient for them.

Proposal templates are easily embedded with e-signature technology (if it isn’t already a native feature), allowing sales professionals to close deals faster and increase their overall effectiveness.

7. Being Consistent

From both a sales and a branding standpoint, proposal templates ensure consistency.

A branded proposal with formatting, a color pallette, logos, and fonts that match the brand identity communicates professionalism, organization, and experience to employees and buyers.

For the sales team, consistency in the proposal process improves the selling experience — buyers know what to expect, and sellers know what kind of proposal to send to each potential customer.

The Main Elements of a Business Proposal Template

The exact business proposal format varies depending on the type of business they do and the purpose of the proposal. Generally, though, all business proposals contain a few key elements:

1. Title

A compelling title page could be the difference between prospective clients overlooking a proposal or continuing to do business.

Still, a proposal title should be simple — all it needs is the following information:

  • The client’s company name
  • The company rep’s name
  • The prospect’s name (or their business’s)
  • The date of submittal
  • A professional, on-brand title or tag-line (for instance, DealHub might title a proposal “One Fluid Revenue Motion”)

2. Table of Contents

The table of contents is one of the most important elements of a proposal because it makes scanning and relocating information easier.

C-level executives and business owners (i.e., the people who will read the proposal) probably won’t do so all at once, so having a table of contents allows them to pick up where they left off.

To make the document more accessible, it helps to add hyperlinks to the table of contents for navigability.

3. Executive Summary

An executive summary — a concise company overview and summary of the proposal’s contents — tells the reader what the proposal’s purpose is and highlights the company’s value proposition.

The goals of the executive summary include:

  • Introduce the company
  • Provide a brief overview of the proposal’s purpose
  • Highlight the solutions/products/services being offered
  • Touch on company background, milestones, value proposition, and plans for the future
  • Encourage further reading

The idea behind the executive summary is if, for whatever reason, the recipient doesn’t read the entire proposal, they’ll still have a good idea of how the sending organization can help them.

4. Problem Statement

The problem statement underscores the entire purpose of a business proposal: to solve a buyer’s problem(s).

This is the proposing company’s time to show they’ve done their homework on the prospect’s needs and challenges.

The problem statement should include:

  • A summary of the prospective customer’s current situation
  • An identification of any pain points or problems they’re experiencing
  • The buyer’s desired state (i.e., what they want to accomplish)
  • Problems or concerns they might not be aware of

5. Proposed Solution

The proposed solution should focus on how the company’s products/services can help the buyer reach their desired state. The solution should:

  • Describe how the product/service works
  • Highlight key features and benefits of using this particular offering
  • Outline how this product/service solves the customer’s problem(s)
  • Use numbers, statistics, and data points that underscore measurable benefits to the company

Metrics are the most crucial part of the proposed solution — it needs to answer the question, “Where will the customer see actual improvement, and how will they measure it?”

6. Qualifications

Social proof sells, and a proposed solution alone isn’t convincing enough for someone considering multiple vendors.

Adding qualifications — references, accomplishments, case study results, certifications, awards, industry experience, or otherwise noteworthy points — gives buyers confidence that the proposing company can meet expectations (and has before).

Since there is limited space on a proposal template, these qualifications can be short bullet points, not actual case studies or long testimonials.

7. Project Timeline

The timeline shows the recipient what they can expect should they decide to work with the company sending the proposal.

Project timelines can follow one of a few frameworks:

  • Flow chart. A visual representation of an algorithm or workflow, flowcharting helps buyers understand how complex solutions work.
  • Roadmap. Roadmaps work well for short-to-mid-term projects with a few distinct phases and project deliverables, such as software releases, digital marketing plans, or branding proposals.
  • Timeline infographic. Timelines work best when pitching long-term projects. Since they’re easier to scan, timeline infographics can highlight big-picture goals while showing project details for each stage.

8. Pricing and Billing

Pricing is often tricky for businesses sending business proposals, especially if the product or service entails complex pricing models.

The key is to give the buyer more than one option using a pricing table. If they can look at how different elements of the proposal impact pricing, they may reevaluate their needs.

It also helps to break the pricing into stages — that way, they won’t see one large number and they understand what they’re paying for more clearly.

Alongside pricing, invoicing terms should be included in the proposal. These include when payments are due, the currency, any discounts available, and payment methods accepted.

Terms for customer payments should also include contingencies, such as late fees, refund policies, and potential implications of nonpayment.

9. Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions section highlight contingencies for doing business with the company sending the proposal.

This section should include:

  • The minimum term of an agreement (if applicable)
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Confidentiality clauses
  • Obligations from both parties
  • Termination policies

Aside from this general information (which won’t change much after finalizing the proposal template), the terms and conditions page will also summarize the project timeline, deliverables, and billing terms.

10. Acceptance

The “acceptance” portion of a business proposal template is simple (and might not need its own page). It’s designed to make it easy for the recipient to agree to the terms of the proposal.

The acceptance form should include:

  • Brief information before signing (if applicable)
  • A signature line/box (or initials)
  • A date field
  • Authorized signatory information
  • Contact information

11. Branding Elements

The vast majority of brands consider multiple vendors throughout the buying decision process, and a black-and-white document won’t make a lasting impression.

Adding elements like logos, company colors, and imagery turn a simple business proposal template into one that stands out and drives home brand recognition.

Branding elements should also carry over to other parts of the proposal, such as signature pages or terms and conditions pages, where they appear more prominently.

Types of Proposal Templates

Consulting Services Proposal

A consulting services proposal typically focuses on how the company sending the proposal can become a partner and provide assistance to help meet their customer’s needs.

Although it is a paid service, consulting is, in many ways, a strategic partnership. Consultants get paid because they have information that could fix, save, or dramatically improve the buyer’s situation.

Consulting proposal templates should get the prospective customer to call themselves to action by highlighting eye-catching problems or risks the buyer might not be aware of.

Business Consulting Proposal

Business consulting proposals are similar to general consulting services proposals, but are often more project-based.

A business consultant may hop into a company to help implement a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, expand into a new market, or bridge the gap between departments for improved efficiency.

Business consulting proposals typically focus on how a company can help buyers meet their long-term goals through specific project deliverables and performance metrics.

Product Sales Proposal

Product sales proposals involve business use case assessment, product bundling, added services, and pricing.

Rather than focusing on a company’s capability to help the buyer achieve their goals (like consulting proposals), product sales proposals are about highlighting tangible business results (e.g., operational efficiency, cost savings, data accuracy) the prospect can use the product to solve.

Templates for product sales proposals are usually formatted a bit differently, but should still include a roadmap to help prospects understand the implementation and adoption timeline.

Service Sales Proposal

Most project-based professional service providers need to submit proposals to win new clients, and they’re often solicited through a request for proposal (RFP) process.

Templates for service sales proposals provide a detailed solution to the customer’s problem and include pricing, terms, and deliverables — all of which are tailored to the buyer’s specific needs.

A successful proposal should give buyers confidence in the provider’s ability to successfully deliver on their commitment and understand their company goals.

IT Business Proposal

Similar to service sales proposals, IT business proposals use a project proposal template. They often include a technical solution involving system integration, data migration, cloud computing, or software development, meaning they need a flow chart that explains the project and a roadmap that breaks down the timeline.

Templates for IT proposals also need to focus heavily on the benefits of the solution (e.g., cost savings, improved security, faster response time) that get buy-in from non-technical stakeholders.

Web Design Proposal Template

A web design proposal has a lot in common with a traditional branding proposal, but includes elements like UI/UX, conversion rate optimization, and SEO.

Since many web designers use a hybrid of services to complete their projects, web design proposal templates should include project and payment milestones and other deliverables like wireframes or mockups to demonstrate the scope of work.

They should also provide an overview of the proposed web technology stack — which can help buyers better understand the level of complexity they’re looking at.

Engineering Design Proposal Template

Engineering designs require a deep understanding of the client’s needs and the engineering processes used to solve them.

This type of proposal should include an analysis of the scope, a timeline for project completion, and implementation details that can be broken down into small tasks. It should also consider potential risks or problems that could arise during execution.

Business Partnership Proposal

Partnerships differ from sales proposals because they highlight mutual benefits (implied in sales proposals).

Business partnership proposal templates should include an overview of each company’s strengths and how they can work together to create something bigger than either could have done alone.

They should mention each party’s roles in the partnership, including expectations for communication and collaboration, revenue sharing, and financial arrangements.

Advertising Proposal

An advertising proposal generally highlights the proposing company’s network, expertise, and ability to land results.

It should provide the potential client with an action plan outlining objectives, budget, timeline, and any creative concepts or ideas the advertiser offers.

Advertising proposal templates must also include metrics for success, such as impressions, conversions, click-throughs, and cost per action (CPA).

Marketing Services Proposal

When a marketing company pitches an existing or prospective client, its proposal should focus on the key strategies to drive leads and increase sales.

A marketing proposal template should include comprehensive summaries of each service offering, pricing models, and payment options.

It should also provide case studies that illustrate successes from past campaigns and a timeline for implementation and performance measurement.

How to Write a Business Proposal From a Template

Even a perfect proposal template won’t win new business if it doesn’t have personalized content inside it.

Follow these steps to fill in the blanks when submitting a proposal:

  • Understand your audience and their pain points. If you are sending a solicited proposal, the best way to learn about the buyer’s requirements is to read through the RFP. Speaking with your prospect can also help you nail your messaging and value statements.
  • Include data, visuals, and video. You’ll need to fill some white space with images anyway, so ditch the stock photos and replace them with graphs, charts, or product images instead.
  • Add social proof such as testimonials or results. Adding client testimonials, photo evidence of past clients’ success, and industry awards are all great ways to add credibility to your proposal.
  • Use a call-to-action. Early on in the proposal, the call-to-action should be an irresistible offer and clearly-defined results. Toward the end, it should be to contact you and get started.
  • Include up-sell and add-on opportunities. Upselling and cross-selling are opportunities to increase the deal size while providing more value to the customer. In some cases, these additional offerings could be product differentiators that make them want to do business with you more.
  • Be proactive about objections and questions. It helps to touch on the most common objections in your proposal and consider what else customers might think while reading it. Anticipating and addressing their questions before they arise can make the difference between winning and losing the project.
  • Personalize the solution and/or deliverables. 76% of buyers are more likely to do business with sellers who personalize. Adding something unique to your proposal that shows you know your customer is a huge deal-maker.
  • Stay on brand. Consistency is key when it comes to your brand. Use the same typeface, color scheme, and language you use in all of your other materials.

What to Look for in Proposal Template Software

Integration with CPQ and CLM

CPQ software may already have proposal templating built-in (DealHub’s does).

If it doesn’t, you should look for proposal software that integrates with your existing CPQ solution. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck manually entering parts of your proposal into both systems.

The same goes for contract lifecycle management (CLM) software, which manages your contracts and proposals, tracks them, and securely stores them for future reference.

Features of DealRoom

DealRoom is DealHub’s digital sales room technology. It’s a collaborative sales workspace that combines all your sales documents, data, and customer information in one place.

It takes the proposal templating process one step further by creating a branded buying experience from start to finish. It centralizes communication, content sharing, approvals, and signatures, helping businesses get the most out of their proposals and related sales communication.

People Also Ask

How many pages should a proposal be?

Sources across the internet can’t seem to agree on the “winning” number of pages in a proposal, but all estimates land between 6 and 20 pages. On the low end, a six-page proposal might not cover everything it needs to. A 20-page document probably won’t be read in its entirety. If a proposal is somewhere around ten pages, it is considered a good length.

What is the typical timeframe for a proposal?

There is no specific timeframe for a proposal, but most need to be submitted within a few days of being requested. In more complex industries, like IT and engineering, proposals may take longer to develop because of the level of detail and customization required. It’s best to submit your proposal as quickly as possible, but also make sure it is complete and accurate.

What should the final section of a proposal include?

The final section of a proposal should include a call-to-action, a summary of the entire proposal, and a signature area. The call-to-action should be an irresistible offer encouraging buyers to move forward with your solution. A summary should provide a quick overview of the entire proposal. The signature area makes it official, with both sides signing and agreeing to any terms outlined in the proposal.