For many—if not all—B2B businesses, business development can be a lengthy process consisting of numerous steps, from lead generation and initial contact to closing the sale and kicking off the project.

Not every pursuit contains every possible element, but one critical step [for nearly every pursuit] is to write and deliver a proposal.

Writing custom, thoughtful proposals can take a lot of time from both business development and subject matter experts across your company. So, it’s important that when you decide to pursue a new business opportunity, you use these efforts wisely to deliver an effective message and keep close rates up.

While there will always be unique circumstances affecting the creation of proposals, here are some general best practices to guide you to delivering a proposal that’ll land you that big sale.

Collect All the Info You Need

During the business development cycle, business development leaders tend to work with limited information. However, prospects are often willing to provide the details you need – IF you ask for them.

So, ask thoughtful questions that will help you understand your potential client’s needs and listen more than you speak.

Involve the Entire Team

Once you gather the necessary info and have a strong understanding of what the client is trying to accomplish, rally the troops and get input from the subject matter experts themselves.

Discuss strategies and tactics that they think will work best per channel, and understand why their recommendations are the best solutions.

Consider Using a Custom Approach

There is no one-size-fits-all method that will win business.

Every client, every situation, every opportunity is unique; reflect this in the document. Make the client feel special by articulating their needs (not just repeating them) and providing the right solution.

Be Clear & Concise

“Clear and concise” is more than advice—it’s a tool to manage client expectations.

Say exactly what you mean and prioritize transparency. Don’t use doublespeak. This will save you headaches later on if you do end up winning their business.

Think Visually

The web has transformed how content is consumed.

94% of business buyers do some form of online research.

Clients want to be able to skim and see visual interpretations of the approach that you’re presenting, so that they can get to the point quickly. Include as much visual context as possible to grab and keep their attention.

Not Everything is About You

While the proposal is about how your firm can solve a problem or fill a need, a proposal isn’t about you. It’s about the client. Never forget this.   

Review, Review, Review, and Edit

Refinement is the final step in polishing your document. Get as many eyes on your proposal as you can.

Make sure that you’ve explained everything in a way that makes sense, and that there are no glaring errors like misspellings or grammatical errors.

Deliver, and Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Once you’ve put together your proposal with all of these best practices in mind, it’s time to deliver to the client, and soon after, follow up! What happens from this point onward won’t always necessarily align with your expectations or goals—but when you put your full effort into creating a thorough, impressive proposal, you’ll have positioned your business favorably to win new business.