You likely spend hours upon hours crafting proposals for your sales prospects- emailing different departments for assets, locating images, outlining project scope, creating timelines, and estimates while defining strategic recommendations.
Then you send it off to the prospective client and move onto the next like you’re Jay Z.
If you find yourself thinking, “there’s got to be a better way,”… there is!
You have no idea if the client even glanced at the proposal you sent or if they’ve opened up weeks later after you’ve sent the seventh follow-up email. And then you get to repeat the process for every prospect who sends you an RFP.
As a result, the proposal-to-contract lifecycle is typically rushed in business. Most organizations would love to have a more efficient and cost-effective way to create, store, and manage the entire process. This alone would give managers a better insight into their sales pipeline and performance by their team.
This process can be simplified- and much of it can be automated by using proposal software that’s been designed to address these very specific concerns. By simply implementing a software solution, you can reduce the time spent on non-billable work that you typically spend drafting content for proposals. This will help you gain a better understanding of what’s really important to prospects.
It’s time to bring your proposal process into the digital age! We’re highlighting ten different proposal management and creation tools that you can use to help automate your workflows. There are many more on the market, but the following tools are particularly relevant for startups that are just getting started.
PandaDoc gives you the ability to easily create proposals that are on-brand with integrations with numerous CRMs, a content library to allow your team to address prospect’s concerns and questions, great collaboration tools, and custom notifications so you know when the client opens your document.
PandaDoc is great to use for contract renewals and offers an HR solution to streamline your recruiting efforts as well as onboarding- which makes your entire organization more efficient and organized.
Early-stage startups are rushing to build new proposals, but they don’t have to duplicate their efforts every time! It’s a huge waste of time and working hours to re-do the work every time you get an RFP. Qwilr can help expedite the process! Qwilr is simple, easy to use and includes full-width images and large typography. You can add any text or graphics you’d like as well as multiple sections, rich media additions (including video) and the ability to save blocks of content for future use. Qwilr allows you to include brand settings to customize your organization’s presentation and typeface. The only thing you’ll have to do is add client information manually, but every other detail you need will be available.
The general proposal building apps make average-looking proposals with a single text column that may be accentuated with pictures and lovely type but serve as a pared-down word processor without the high level of detail that you could implement using a word processor.
Proposify solves that problem, giving you a detailed layout editor. You can actively add design details and nuances exactly where you want them. Want a magazine layout? Proposify has you covered.
Initially, creating a proposal will take extra time to construct, but once you have a proposal with the sections you need for your prospects, it becomes far more efficient to assemble the next one. Just rely on Proposify’s content library and you can pull in any section from previous work you’ve done.
This is a tool that works better if you spend the time to work out the settings before you introduce it into your workflow to make proposals. Unlike the others that allow you to build a proposal from a blank page if you want to, Bidsketch requires you to save sections that you’ll use in proposals first to build your content.
However, it does allow you to make templates for your most frequently-used proposals by utilizing templates where you select content and fees that you want to use for each service type. In Bidsketch, it’s a bit more difficult to style proposals- you’ll need HTML or CSS skills to customize fonts and colors in Bidsketch, but their focus on duplicate text ensures that you won’t be duplicating work.
Osmosis allows you to create client questionnaires to use to determine project scope and proposals. Proposals made using the tool are presented as a web page that prospects can then export as a PDF. It integrates with the best-known project management and invoicing tools like Basecamp, Trello, Freshbooks, and others.
If you’re a solopreneur, you don’t just need a solution for proposals. You need a way to track your clients and prospects, time, and expenses as well as a way to get paid when you’re done. Here’s where Bonsai comes in.
This is a simple proposal builder built into a suite of tools that are designed around better managing micro-businesses. In the same tool, you can manage all of the financial aspects of a project and then easily invoice and get paid through either Stripe or Paypal once you’re done. Bonsai’s dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view of how your business is flowing, and it’s everything you need to effectively manage the financials of your current client load.
Maybe you don’t want a new app. If you’ve been in business for years and making proposals this entire time, you likely have a lot of material to work within Word, but you’d like to streamline the process. WebMerge can make this happen.
This isn’t just another proposal tool. WebMerge is an effective tool that you can use to import and create new documents from the Word, PDF, and Excel documents you already have. This makes it ideal for proposals, agreements, T&C policies and more.
When you do need to make new documents, just use WebMerge’s HTML rich WYSIWYG editor for a simplified version of Word’s standard editing tools to build new templates. This is a pared-down tool compared to the tools we’ve mentioned above, but it’s faster to use and can automate your entire workflow for multiple types of documents.
You can use Loopio to build a response library for your RFP’s and categorize the content. From there, the tool’s automation system pulls from the designated content library to auto-populate a proposal. Loopio also gives you the ability to categorize content with a subject expert, which allows you to make it easy to know whom to talk to for updates.
With an intuitive user interface, Nusii allows you to manage and create proposals efficiently. The tool spotlights a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to reorder sections and add any content you deem desirable. It also has a reminder feature, giving you the power to remember to follow up after sending and has a library of professionally-designed proposal templates so you can hit the ground running.
Octiv is a rich tool that helps businesses manage the entire proposal process- from proposal-to-contact. This tool has a content library to store approved content sections, an online presentation capability and reporting that shows you who viewed what for how long. Prospective clients can review and comment on proposals on their chosen device. Octiv features DocuSign built right into the app for the easy signing of contracts.
No matter if your focus is on your proposal’s design to make it an eye-catching experience to clients or save time on your content with easy to assemble sections for detailed proposals, there’s a proposal app made for you. Tools that can speed up your overall sales workflow and help free you up to spend more time on the projects that are meaningful to your business.
About The Author: Erika McWalter is a content marketing expert for Qwilr who writes about project management. She has worked in the Digital Marketing industry for the last decade. When she’s not guiding people with her writing, she’s most likely doing DIY projects with her daughter.