How many times have you sent out a business proposal and not heard back despite sending multiple follow-up emails?
Let’s face it: your prospective client probably comes across several business proposals in a week. While some manage to grab their attention, many others stay buried in their inbox.
One of the most common mistakes people make while writing business proposals is not focusing on its visual appeal. This is especially true for small businesses that struggle with limited resources and budgets.
But how do you expect a positive response after making someone sift through a dull proposal?
Moreover, visuals aren’t just for aesthetics. They have the power to capture attention, tell a story, and communicate information more effectively.
The good news is that you don’t need to have a design background to create a visually-appealing small business proposal.
In this article, I will tell you how you can use visuals to create small business proposals and win more clients.
Illustrate complex concepts with infographics
Imagine having to go through pages and pages of complex, technical information. The thought of it is tiresome, isn’t it?
This is where infographics come to the rescue. The fact that infographics are about 30x more likely to be read than a full article gives you all the reason to include them.
A well-designed infographic with illustrations prevents information overload and makes complex concepts easily consumable. Since you’re probably not a data scientist, it’s best to start with infographic templates you can customize and then insert into your business proposal.
You can use infographics in your small business proposal to:
Explain how your product or service works
List your services
Present statistics, facts, and figures
Summarize key points
Here’s an example of a process infographic you can use in your small business proposal, highlighting the different steps involved in starting a business.
Describe processes with flow charts
Let’s say you need to divide a project or concept into smaller parts, describe a process, or visualize the breakdown of the budget. A good way to present this information is by using flow charts.
They are typically used to visualize a process or workflow and help simplify decision-making while keeping everyone on the same page.
While designing the flow chart, make sure it’s focused on one concept to avoid overwhelming the reader. You should also use icons, fonts, and colors to make flow charts scannable and differentiate between the different types of information.
Take a look at this flow chart example. It visualizes the breakdown of the total budget and uses icons to represent each area, letting people understand how the budget is being allocated.
Similarly, you can also use flowcharts to illustrate phases of a business process, the customer journey, distribution chain, or even show the possible outcomes or options available.
For instance, here’s a flowchart that takes the reader through the entire process of the food ordering procedure in a restaurant in an engaging manner.
Outline the timeline
Your small business proposal might have some great ideas but without a well laid-out timeline, it’s incomplete. Don’t make that mistake.
When you clearly outline the timeline, it gives potential clients a clearer picture of the next steps and sets expectations early on. So, instead of writing about it, why not present it visually with a timeline infographic?
You can use timeline infographics to chalk out project timelines and deliverables to your potential clients, thereby setting clear expectations.
You can also use them while introducing your small company, taking them through important milestone dates such as when your company was founded followed by when you received your rounds of funding and other relevant information.
Timeline infographics work because they help the reader visualize projects and sequences while emphasizing important points in time that might have otherwise gotten missed.
Here’s a good example of a timeline template that can be used in business proposals. This one outlines the various steps involved and color codes the different weeks to set them apart from each other.
Present team structure with an organizational chart
Clients will be trusting you with their business and they will certainly want to know more about your team. If the credentials of your team are strong, you have higher chance of getting considered.
Visually present your team structuring using an organizational chart that outlines the hierarchy of the people involved. In addition to the names and titles, you should also briefly mention their roles and include their headshots to build trust.
Take a look at this example of an organizational chart that clearly presents the team structure. It also uses color-coding to differentiate the different departments.
Break up pricing with a price comparison table
You don’t want the client to hunt for the pricing structure in the proposal or worse, scare them away with it.
Choosing the right pricing strategy is extremely important but so is presenting it well in the business proposal. Instead of giving them the take-it-or-leave-it figure, it’s always a better idea to give them a couple of pricing options to help them make a decision.
You can use a price comparison table to present the different options along with their respective benefits.
Here’s a good example of a price comparison table. It gives the reader enough information to compare the packages and come to a final decision.
You can also consider presenting the price breakdown so the client knows exactly what they’ll be paying for.
The takeaway: add visuals to your small business proposals to boost transparency and get to “yes” faster
Business proposals might be formal documents but that doesn’t mean they need to be dry and boring.
Go beyond wordy business proposals and use these visual tactics to make it easier for clients to digest information with ease, thereby moving them through the sales funnel faster and closing more deals as a result.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.