Best Proposal Software
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Proposal Software Overview
What is Proposal Software?
Proposal software is a sales enablement or productivity tool that helps salespeople quickly create accurate, personalized proposal documents, and then deliver a produced version of the proposal to clients, whether in hard copy, in an electronic file, or through a link to a custom URL (online proposals). Some proposal automation software also automatically scans proposal documents to check for legal & brand compliance. Sales proposal automation software reduces the need to write proposals from scratch or copy and paste standard proposal language and key account details into a new document. It also handles proposal formatting, via templates or branding rule logic, so that professional documents can be generated without spending time manually fidgeting with fonts, spacing, layout, etc. This is a matter both of convenience and of brand consistency.
At its core, sales proposal automation software is essentially a database, accessed by marketers, client services, and salespeople, that contains standard language about company offerings and policies. One aspect of the database is logic/rules, which help with workflow automation, and the other aspect is a library of content, or connectors to pull in content, in order to populate proposals. Both this repository of information and the brand/content compliance features help ensure consistent messaging across sales, marketing, and client services. Sales proposal automation software may also have features to support the revision and upkeep of content, such as expiration dates or another way to flag content that needs to be updated or reviewed, or create jobs and approval processes to send content through the right channels for revision.
The constitution of a “proposal” differs depending on the type of proposal—project proposals, statements of work, managed service proposals, grants, etc—the stage of the deal, industry practices, company policies, and whether the proposal is proactive or sent in response to an RFP. Thus, there is a range of content and document types that may be comprise a proposal or be attached to a proposal, such as cover letters, customer information, pricing/quotes, product descriptions and configuration options, terms and conditions, company policies, corporate overviews and executive summaries, prior agreements, and/or service offerings. Regardless of the type of proposal, at an abstract level sales proposal automation software should allow salespeople to dynamically generate proposal documents with variable content to fit the particular customer/situation.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) & Automation
Proposals are often sent as a response to RFPs (requests for proposals, or requests for pricing), which are sent to alert suppliers and providers to make a competitive bid on a sales opportunity. In cases where price is the main decision-making factor (and the specific terms/requirements are already configured), this may come in the form of a request for quote (RFQ) rather than an RFP.
RFPs, and the resulting custom proposals, are typically part of a complex sales process, common in enterprise sales. Some sales proposal automation systems allow users to trigger alerts and even automatically generate proposals based on the arrival of an RFP and/or the details within the RFP. Beyond automating the proposal writing process from a content and formatting perspective, this kind of workflow trigger is one sense in which sales proposal automation tools can “automate” proposals.
Sales Proposal Automation Software Integrations
Sales proposal automation software typically integrates with CPQ software and a company’s CRM system. It may also integrate with an enterprise content management system, eSignature and/or payment software, product catalogs, and other Sales applications. Integrations with CPQ software, product catalogs, and CMS systems feed personalized and contextual content into proposals, whereas integrations with CRM systems help track account engagement and sales performance, and integration with eSignature and payment software helps to streamline deals and generate revenue.
Key Benefits of Using Sales Proposal Automation
Sales proposal automation software automates the creation and/or delivery of sales proposals. According to vendors, this allows sales reps to be more productive and attend to more of the pipeline. These are some of the key benefits reported by vendors and users:
- Streamlines workflow so proposals can be created faster.
- Proposals are better quality—more consistent brand-wise, and more personalized in terms of contact details and CPQ or RFP specifications.
- Improved sales effectiveness through client-focused (customized) proposals and speedy proposal turnaround, both of which may help improve win rate.
- Opportunities for “self” upsell with interactive proposals can lead to higher revenue/bigger deal size without additional effort required from Sales.
Sales Proposal Automation Software Features & Capabilities
Features of sales proposal automation software range from more automation (highly complex and integratable) to less automation (proposal creation assistance, possibly bundled with CPQ functionality & contract authoring). Common capabilities, which are useful to compare when evaluating sales proposal automation products, include:
- Proposal branding: Allows users to create branding rules and/or scan proposals for brand compliance.
- Proposal templates: Allows users to utilize proposal templates for standard proposal layouts, with variable fields.
- Proposal content library updates: Users can update saved proposal language and standard proposal content.
- Searchable proposal database: Proposals are organized in a central repository; users can easily locate past proposals within the database.
- Guided proposal creation: A proposal authoring wizard, question flow, recommendations, or other elements guide salespeople in authoring proposals based on the particulars of the deal.
- RFP management & response: Proposals can be created based on RFPs received.
- Proposal collaboration and approval: Users can review and revise proposals in a collaborative fashion; may include versioning and/or automated approval workflows.
- User permissions and proposal editing controls: Users can set appropriate, granular controls over who can view vs. edit elements of proposals.
- Proposal content tracking: Reporting & analytics around proposal content engagement and performance, e.g. what content clients spend time reading, and what content makes for a successful deal
- Proposal distribution/delivery: Options for providing proposals to clients are robust and convenient. May include hard copies, electronic files (PDF, Word, RTF, HTML), or online proposals via links to custom URLs.
- Interactive proposals: Proposals are actionable; clients can select between options, choose from multiple agreements, upsell themselves by selecting add-ons, and/or sign agreements electronically.
- Sales proposal workflow: Proposals fit conveniently into the sales workflow on both ends (coordinating content to create proposals, and moving from proposals to contracts/revenue); proposal automation improves sales efficiency.
- Proposal automation user interface: User interface is user friendly and easy to navigate for salespeople and other proposal collaborators (non-technical).
Qvidian RFP & Proposal Automation is a cloud-based RFP and proposal automation software that is designed to empower enterprises to win more business by streamlining processes, improving productivity, and creating more effective sales documents. The vendor’s value proposition is that Qvidian is...
ConnectWise Sell (formerly Quosal) is the quote and proposal solution of the ConnectWise Suite. With ConnectWise Sell, users can create professional technology quotes and proposals that include rich product information, cover letters, and statements of work in minutes and automatically update...
QuoteWerks is specialized Configuration Pricing Quoting (CPQ) software that can be used in every industry to create sales quotes and proposals. The vendor’s value proposition is that rather than relying on Microsoft Word or Excel to create quotes, users can benefit from a tool that is specialized...
XaitPorter is a cloud-based solution that is designed to help users create high quality documents. It enables multiple users to work on the same document, in real-time, whether in the office, at home, or on the other side of the world. The vendor’s value proposition is that with their solution,...
PMAPS is a proposal management platform and is available as installed software or in a cloud-based version.
Seismic’s sales enablement solution allows marketing teams to personalize content at scale and equips large sales teams with the right content for every interaction, dramatically improving time spent selling and win rates. According to the vendor, Seismic is the only sales enablement platform...
Privia's bid capture and proposal management tools are designed for companies handling RFPs / RFIs in the public sector. Privia offers both SMB and Enterprise products and pricing starts at $29 / month / user.
PandaDoc headquartered in San Francisco offers their eponymous electronic signature platform for sales teams, containing sales proposal automation and CPQ (configure, price, quote) features, and integration with CRMs.
Proposify aims to provide a simple way to deliver winning proposals. This solution includes unlimited access to templates that include pre-written copy for a variety of services. All templates are customizable to fit an organization’s business and brand voice.
TinderBox is a web-based solution that helps sales and marketing teams streamline their presentation, proposal, and contract processes. With TinderBox, users can create and collaborate on sales content, track real-time prospect activity, and refine your content while maintaining brand consistency.
SkyVisualEditor is a solution for creating Visualforce pages in Salesforce. The solution specializes in helping Salesforce administrators create highly customized Visualforce pages to create the UIs their users want.
Sofon Proposal Organizer is more than a simple proposal generator. Per their website "Sofon Proposal Organizer takes care of requirements analysis, product configuration, three dimensional product visualization (when applicable), calculation of sales prices and margins, calculation of cost,...
VisibleThread provides language audit software that performs document content analysis to bid and proposal managers and government agencies. They have formed a partnership with Privia for the more standard proposal automation capabilities.
SAVO offered a suite of sales enablement which are now part of Seismic's sales enablement suite, since the SAVO Group was acquired by Seismic in 2018.
NiftyQuoter is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by NiftyQuoter.
Quote Roller is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Quote Roller.
SalesDoc Architect is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Cors Productivity Solutions.
Koneka Document Engineering is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Koneka.
Practice Ignition is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Practice Ignition.
Octant is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Octant.
PleaseCompose is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by PleaseTech.
QuoteRobot is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by QuoteRobot.
Scout RFP is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by Scout RFP.
InnovaRFP is a sales proposal automation software solution offered by DataLan.
Document Analyzer is a Sales Proposal Automation platform. It analyzes legal type documents by splitting the document into (analysis results) parsed segments and identifies keywords within segments. Users can then split, combine, and remove segments. Additionally, users can write notes for...