Proposal software, also known as proposal management software, gives professionals the tools they need to streamline and automate the proposal creation process.
But are they all created equal? Absolutely not.
Most people struggle to create their own proposal documents, which leads to depressing numbers and lost sales. Fortunately, proposal software exists to streamline the proposal-writing process and drive more revenue than ever before.
In this article, we'll discuss what proposal software is, why it's beneficial, how to evaluate these kinds of apps, and the five best proposal software solutions available in 2021.
What is proposal software?
Let's start with a definition.
Proposal software, or proposal management software, is any app or platform designed to help salespeople develop proposals and automations to guide prospects through the funnel while keeping all the related documents in order.
It doesn't matter if you're a salesperson, freelancer, or independent entrepreneur, you probably create proposals on a regular basis. This is a time consuming process. The best proposal software reduces the time and frustration it typically takes to craft winning proposals.
Also of note, most proposal software solutions are cloud-based and accessed for a fee. But of course, we'll talk more about this in a later section of this article.
Should you use proposal software?
You're the only person who can answer that question. But what we can tell you is, proposal software can be incredibly beneficial—especially if you work in sales. Here's why:
To make sales, you have to earn your prospects' trust. And nothing says "trust me" less than a hastily slapped together proposal in Microsoft Word. It just looks unprofessional.
And if your proposal looks unprofessional, why would a prospect believe their future relationship with you will be any different? Answer: they won't. Fortunately, proposal software will allow you to brand your proposals with your company's logo, color pallet, and more.
It may sound silly—and it probably is—but a professional, branded proposal looks better than a jury-rigged one and will help you close more deals.
Significant time savings
Proposal software will also help you save time—time you could spend on revenue generating activities that actually boost your company's bottom line.
Ask yourself, "how many hours do I spend creating proposals every month?" Probably way too many. This is because you're using tools that weren't designed for the job. MS Word is fantastic if you're writing a novel. If you want to win new business, you need something else.
The best proposal software has the tools you need to create professional proposals quickly, allowing you to move on and complete other important tasks.
Proposal software will allow you to brand your proposals and make them look more professional. It will also help you create them quickly. What does this mean for you? That you can earn more money in less time and boost company profits!
The ultimate goal of every sales rep, freelancer, and entrepreneur is to grow revenue without sacrificing time. This is exactly what proposal software will help you do.
How to evaluate proposal software
Here's the truth: there are A LOT of different proposal software available. How do you choose the right app for your needs? We suggest looking for a few specific things:
- User-friendliness: The proposal software you choose should be easy to use. If it's not, what's the point? Pick a solution with a short learning curve.
- Business fit: Your chosen app should also have all necessary features. To determine this, ask yourself which features are non-negotiable. A few popular options are professional templates, e-signature capabilities, and analytics dashboards. Choose a proposal software with the features YOU need to be successful.
- Cost of service: Lastly, it's important to choose a proposal software that you can afford. Luckily, most apps in this category aren't expensive. Even so, keep your budget in mind and don't exceed it unless you have a very good reason.
The 5 best proposal software solutions
Now that you know what proposal software is, why it's valuable, and how to choose the right app for your business, let's talk about a few specific options available to you.
Here are the five best proposal software solutions in 2021:
First up, we have PandaDoc, a popular tool that allows users to quickly create contracts, forms, and other important documents, in addition to branded proposals.
PandaDoc includes a massive template library. Each template is easily customized with brand logos and color schemes using the solution's signature drag and drop editor. Once your proposal is just right, upload it where it needs to go with a single click.
One of our favorite things about PandaDoc is its extensive integrations list. For example, you can connect PandaDoc to a powerful CRM software like Nutshell and automatically pull customer details into your proposals to make them feel more personal.
Other important features inside PandaDoc include:
- eSignatures to make the agreement process as seamless as possible.
- Simplified workflows that include version tracking and commenting.
- Cloud storage for all of your documents so you always know where to find them.
- Engagement metrics that catalog when proposals are opened, viewed, signed, etc.
All in all, PandaDoc is a fantastic proposal software and should definitely be on your list in 2021. Fortunately, it's not an expensive app to use. Pricing ranges from $19 to $49+ per user / per month depending on the features you need access to.
Proposify is another popular proposal software that's perfect for large sales departments that close a high volume of deals on a monthly basis. Is that you? Then check this out…
The Proposify solution comes with a full-fledged template library, each of which can be customized to reflect your company's unique branding via a drag and drop editor. This means that every proposal your team sends out will "look the part."
Like PandaDoc, Proposify also integrates with other popular tools, allowing users to quickly source data from CRMs like SalesForce and HubSpot to create personalized proposals.
Where Proposify really distinguishes itself, though, is in the permissions department. Sales managers have the ability to pre-approve templates, images, fees, and other content to make sure that reps never send outdated and/or inaccurate information.
We can't wrap up this section on Proposify without mentioning the app's analytics suite. Check your dashboard to learn how prospects interact with your proposals, which sections are most viewed, and insights into why certain deals didn't go through.
One of the reasons why we recommend Proposify for large sales departments is because it's a pricier piece of software than the other options in this post. Paid plans start at $49 per user / per month, though the Business Plan costs $590 a month for 10 users.
If Proposify is best for large companies, Prospero takes the cake for small operations, such as those run by solo entrepreneurs and freelance professionals.
The Prospero template library contains 30 eye-catching templates. That might not seem like a lot—especially when compared to PandaDoc. But it's worth noting that each template is geared towards a different profession. Are you a photographer? There's a template for that. Graphic designer? There's a template for that. Writer? You get the idea…
Each professional template can be quickly customized by adding your brand's logo, personalized pictures and videos, custom tables, and more.
If a potential client wants to move forward, they can do so by signing your proposal electronically, which will help you close deals faster. This is important since many solo entrepreneurs and freelancers deal with cash flow issues on a regular basis.
Finally, Prospero integrates with Stripe, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and other tools to simplify processes and help its users keep track of their money.
Get started with Prospero today for $8 a month of $60 a year.
4. Better Proposals
"Win more business, get paid faster." That's what Better Proposals promises their users. Sounds great, right? But can they actually deliver? In a word, yes!
This easy to use proposal software is stuffed to the gills with helpful features, some of which include an all-in-one editor that makes proposal writing a breeze, professionally designed templates that can be customized to your exact specifications, a content library that will allow you to store previously used pieces of content for quick retrieval, and more.
And we can't forget to mention this little gem: instant notifications. Better Proposals will update you when your proposal is opened, forwarded, printed, etc. With these details, you'll be able to follow up with leads at the perfect times and win new business.
Better Proposals will run you somewhere between $19 and $49 a month / per user, though you can save as much as 35% by signing up for an annual plan.
Last but certainly not least, we have Qwilr, a truly unique proposal software.
What makes this app different from the other tools we've covered? Qwilr will not, we repeat WILL NOT, help you create amazing PDF proposals. Instead, Qwilr proposals are designed as beautiful, interactive, and mobile responsive web pages.
Qwilr includes a template library, which can be customized extensively by adding personal branding elements, video greetings, product demos, and even Google maps. It also supports eSignatures and connects to payment systems like Stripe and Xero.
Like some of the other proposal software in this post, Qwilr integrates with a variety of CRM solutions, allowing users to automatically pull prospect information into their proposals.
Qwilr is used by major brands like HP, Zendesk, and DropBox and is ideal for B2B sellers. Sound like you? Then sign up for one of Qwilr's two plans: Business, which will cost you $66 a month for three users, or Enterprise, which goes for $490 a month for 10 users.
Proposal software will give you a professional edge, save you loads of time, and help you generate more revenue for your company. The trick is choosing the right solution.
For example, PandaDoc is a viable option for most people, especially those who already use Nutshell as the two applications integrate seamlessly. But those working for large brands may prefer Proposify, while freelancers and solo entrepreneurs should consider Prospero.
Better Proposals and Qwilr have their merits, too, and definitely deserve consideration.
We encourage you to do your research. Read this post again, as well as online review sites to get a feel for each app. Then sign up for a few free trials to get hands-on experience. Finally, choose the solution that suits your workflow best and don't look back. Good luck!