How to Write the Best Project Proposal (With Templates)
Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment feeling uncertain about the treatment plan? It stinks—no one likes being left in limbo when it comes to things that matter to them.
Clients feel the same type of frustration when they receive unclear project details from agencies. Reassure your customers with a strong project proposal—a statement that clarifies what your agency will do to help the client meet their goals.
This proposal is basically a “diagnosis” and a “treatment plan.” It shows the client you understand their situation and outlines what project deliverables your agency will create to help the customer meet their objective.
Boost clients’ confidence in your projects with this guide. It’s packed with proposal writing best practices, project proposal examples, and more to help you strengthen your pitches.
- What is a Project Proposal?
- Types of Project Proposals
- The 7 Steps to Creating a Successful Project Proposal (with templates)
- Step 1: Research your prospective client’s product and industry
- Step 2: Brainstorm with your internal team
- Step 3: Define deliverables and determine the required resources
- Step 4: Write the project proposal
- Step 5: Add design elements to the project proposal
- Step 6: Present it to your prospective client
- Step 7: Follow Up with The Prospective Client
What is a Project Proposal?
A project proposal is a document that outlines what deliverables your agency will create and the objectives you plan to meet through the work. It should describe your diagnostic and prescriptive approach to getting them where they want to be.
What’s included in a project proposal?
A good project proposal should include the Who, What, Where, When, and How of the solution you provide. Specifically, your project proposal needs to include:
- Table of Contents: An index of what’s to come in the project proposal and page numbers
- Executive Summary: A statement that describes the project background and gives a brief overview of what’s to come in the proposal
- Goals: The long-term outcome the client wants to achieve
- Problem Statement: A summary of the obstacles standing in the way of the client’s goals
- Value Statement: A summary statement of how your agency’s services and expertise will solve the problem statement and benefit the client
- Strategy: The high-level proposed solution for how you will reach the client’s goals
- Project Scope: The services that will be included in your agency’s project approach
- Project Deliverables: Individual tasks within the services you provide that contribute to the project objective(s)
- Measures of Success: Metrics that will be used to measure project success (KPIs)
- Timelines: A roadmap of when the client can expect project deliverables and key milestones along the way
- Case Studies: Success stories and testimonials from clients you’ve worked with on similar projects
- Budget: The monetary resources required to complete the project proposal. Include more than one package with a range of pricing to fit different project budgets and goals).
- Project Summary: A concrete takeaway that summarizes the key details of the project proposal.
- Next Steps: Don’t forget your call to action! Tell the client how to get started working with you.!
Not sure how to tie all of this together? Don’t worry; we’ll cover that later!
Types of Project Proposals
There are a few different situations where you would submit a project proposal to a client:
- Solicited project proposal: A prospective client approaches you with a Request For Proposal (RFP), and you submit a proposal in response.
- Unsolicited project proposal: You identify a prospect in your CRM that fits your ideal customer profile (ICP) and submit an unsolicited project proposal to start a contracting conversation without the prospect reaching out first.
- Informal project proposal: A more conversational approach to a proposal or one that wasn’t specifically requested.
- Renewal project proposal: An existing client is up for renewal. You send this proposal as a prerequisite to resigning so you can reevaluate your current relationship and set new goals.
- Continuation project proposal: Remind or convince current clients to continue the project or provide details about any outstanding or new tasks that might be needed to complete the project.
- Supplemental project proposal: You identify the need to expand an existing project’s scope of work and redefine the client relationship.
Related: Business Proposal Templates
The benefits of writing proposals for projects
A well-written project proposal is a powerful tool for showing clients why hiring your agency is their best chance for success.
Specifically, project proposals have a few key benefits:
- Credibility: Provides you a platform to establish your expertise with the prospect
- Differentiation: Give the prospect something concrete to take to internal stakeholders to compare and contrast your services with others competing for the project and get buy-in from their decision-makers.
- Alignment: Aligns internal and external teams on what the goals and vision are for the project proposal from the very beginning.
The 7 Steps to Creating a Successful Project Proposal (with templates)
A project proposal can either be a big selling point or a missed opportunity; the difference comes down to your process for developing one. Before you begin writing a project proposal, centralize your team communication. Then you can establish a clear planning process so nothing falls through the cracks.
Bonus: Project Planning Tools
Step 1: Research your prospective client’s product and industry
Your prospective client doesn’t want an impersonal project proposal. They want a statement that shows you understand their history, branding, industry, and customers. Show the client you get them and what matters to them by conducting research for your project proposal.
While conducting your research, consider the following:
- Research background:
- How long will you have to conduct your research?
- What form of data collection will you use?
- Will you conduct a competitor audit, client surveys, or an organizational gap analysis?
- Once you collect the data, how will you analyze it?
- Are there limitations to your research that need to be considered during your planning?
- Key findings:
- Do any themes rise to the top as you conduct your research?
- What resources did you use in developing your research?
- Are the sources credible?
- Are the sources diverse enough to accurately represent the industry?
Don’t forget to document all of your findings in ClickUp’s Research Report Template so you can easily reference them in the following steps of your project proposal!
Step 2: Brainstorm with your internal team
Armed with your research, rally the troops! It’s time to collaborate with your internal team on how you can solve the client’s needs before you put it on paper.
Brainstorm together using the mind mapping methodology— a visual diagram of ideas connected by a central concept. It’s an easy way for your teams to brain-dump ideas and talks through each of their unique perspectives on the project – ultimately coming up with the best ideas.
For example, developing concepts for a marketing campaign requires inputs from multiple teams in your agency. Using ClickUp’s Mind Map will help subject matter experts from across the agency weigh in on the best approach while keeping the client’s goal as the central concept.
Corral all that genius in one room with ClickUp’s template for project mapping! With this resource, you can easily brainstorm and organize ideas visually to identify connections between them quickly.
Step 3: Define deliverables and determine the required resources
Once your team has identified the best approach to the project, it’s time to outline the specifics of the solution in a project plan. This includes identifying phases of the project, defining deliverables, and filling in the details of each task.
Using a project management tool, work with your team to assign the timeline, project budget, and task owners for each deliverable to determine the project’s overall scope. Here are a few ClickUp project management tools that will help you communicate each of these details:
- Custom Fields: ClickUp’s custom fields enable you to assign unique values to tasks like budgets, task owners, due dates, and so much more.
- Gantt Chart: It’s easy to define timelines when you look at tasks in ClickUp’s Gantt chart view, where you can define dependencies between tasks and layout project deliverables in sequential order.
- Checklists: Sometimes, you just need a simple to-do list to make sure you’ve assigned each piece of the project; that’s where checklists are super handy! Easily tag in task owners, set due dates, and notify the project team of completion with a single click.
Step 4: Write the project proposal
Now that you have all the project’s internal details, it’s time to organize them into a concise, personalized proposal statement. Collaborating on all of the ideas in a project proposal whiteboard makes it easy to define your proposal as you go.
Once you have outlined the key concepts on ClickUp’s Whiteboard, it’s time to tag in your copywriting team to round out those ideas and write a cohesive proposal Doc. The copywriting team should reference the Whiteboard, project map, and research document as they write to make sure it’s as personalized to the client as possible.
The copy needs to be definitive, concise, and measurable as possible. Once the copywriters are done, give your internal project team a chance to review and surface any revisions needed before sending the project proposal on to the next step.
Make sure you clearly define the project budget as well. The last thing a client wants is to see various costs from initial conversations.
Step 5: Add design elements to the project proposal
Now for the fun part! Tag your creative team to translate that project background document into a beautifully designed project proposal (a.k.a. make it pretty!). If you don’t have an internal design team, there are several drag-and-drop design templates from services like Pitch and Canva.
Consider standardizing your proposal in a template regardless of whether you have an internal design team or are using one of these services. Your team can simply adapt ClickUp’s Project Proposal Whiteboard Template for each new client to maintain brand consistency and save time.
Step 6: Present it to your prospective client
You did it!
The day has finally come—you get to wow your client with your genius. Whether you meet in person or via zoom, send a meeting agenda and a copy of your project proposal via email to your client prior to the proposal presentation.
Providing the proposed project and agenda beforehand will give the client time to consider the proposal, form any questions, and potentially add notes to the meeting agenda.
CLICKUP PRO TIP
Make this step quick, easy, and consistent across teams by developing a standardized email template in ClickUp.
During the meeting, keep detailed meeting notes and assign follow-up tasks immediately so nothing falls through the cracks post-meeting. Easily take notes and assign action items in real-time with the ClickUp Meeting Notes Template to create the best project proposal.
Make sure to keep your proposal presentation to the point and as brief as possible. You don’t want to bore your audience before they get to the end.
At the end of the presentation, reiterate the next steps you’ve outlined in the proposal and note how much lead time your team will need if the client chooses to sign on. After presenting the project proposal, answer as many questions as possible, and follow up via email with any answers you don’t immediately have.
Step 7: Follow Up with The Prospective Client
We’ve all been there. One minute an agency is promising you the world, and the next, they’re ghosting you for the next best client. Don’t let prospects slip through the cracks.
Keep track of every stage of your project proposals so you know who is responsible for reaching out to the prospect, and when your team last contacted them.
Tracking the client lifecycle in real-time is easy in ClickUp with custom fields. You can define the stages of your project proposals through custom fields, assigning roles, setting due dates for routine follow-ups, and tagging team members. You can also send client emails and comments right from the task window, giving you a clear audit trail of each customer communication.
- Project Proposal Projects
- Creative Project Plan Template
- Creative Agency Proposal Planning Template
- Consulting Project Plan Template
- Grant Proposal Template
ClickUp: The Collaboration Tool to Power Your Project Proposals
At the core of successful project proposals, there’s a team that collaborates effectively. And that’s exactly what ClickUp enables your agency to do.
We bring all of your tools, documents, teams, dashboards, budgets, and workflows into one project management software. This is all in an effort to put an end to context-switching and siloed workflows from working within multiple tools.
We have over 1,000 app integrations and a full library of free templates built by project management experts that make workflow building easy. You no longer have to spend your precious time creating every process and procedure from the ground up.
It’s already here, just waiting for you in ClickUp. Get started today—completely for free—and see why so many agencies are switching to ClickUp.