This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best proposal management software and other RFP response tools. In this post, I’ll talk about how you can use a proposal app to streamline your request for proposal process flow. I will highlight a few of the best RFP tool options, honing in on tools that offer a wide range of proposal management software for different needs.
Additionally, I will answer some FAQs about developing a professional proposal, including how to easily get started with software proposal templates. I have also outlined to you what you should look for in any RFP software within the evaluation criteria section. From there, I go on to provide a simple comparison of some of the proposal response software making waves right now.
What is proposal management software?
Proposal management software (sometimes just “proposal software”) is any software that aids in the development, organization, presentation, approval, and/or responses to RFPs.
Why use proposal management software?
Responding to RFPs can be time-consuming and stressful. For most businesses, developing a good service proposal is key to earning new business and increasing revenue. However, not every team has unlimited manpower and resources to dedicate to pumping out proposals all day, especially when they won’t necessarily guarantee you any business.
If you are finding that you need professional-looking proposals faster than you can keep up with, then It might be time to invest in some Request For Proposal management tools to help ease your team’s workload and get higher quality proposals out the door faster.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate 10 Best Business Proposal Software
Whether you need meeting proposal software, web proposal tools, proposal writing software, sales proposal software, or anything else on the proposal builder spectrum, there is something out there in the wide world of software that can help you do it better and faster.
Keep reading to explore a few options that stand out in particular.
RFP Management Comparison Criteria
What are we looking for when we select website proposal tools for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive? Can you glance at the interface and understand how to do basic functions like save or export your work, tag colleagues, make comments, sort items, and so on?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? Is there an online forum for the software community to share tips and solutions to common problems?
- Features & Functionality:
a. Proposal Templates – Does the tool offer some sort of online proposal generator to get you started with basic templates and forms? Is there a variety of proposal options that can be appropriated for different industries and use cases?
b. RFP Database Uploads – Can you swiftly and easily upload a proposal to your RFP Database of choice? How does the tool assist or hinder this process? Does the software make it easy and quick to respond to RFPs?
c. Collaboration – Can you easily share, comment on, respond, send, and edit a document across teams? Does it have effective feedback mechanisms for client interactions through the process?
d. Reporting and Data – Do the RFP system offer any reporting features to track what works and what doesn’t? Does it offer basic features like rate of engagement, views, link click tracking, download tracking, and so on?
4. Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
5. Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
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Overviews Of The Best Proposal Management Software
Here’s a brief description of each of the software proposal tools that are featured on this top 10 list.
Formstack’s workflow management is centered around an easy-to-use form builder. They offer an impressive template library with over 200 pre-built business forms to customize.
This document workflow software is good for small agencies, as it’s a bit of a “one-stop” admin shop. Overall, it’s a higher price-per-user than many of the other workflow tools, but if your processes are documentation-heavy, this tool pays for itself in those time-saving templates.
Formstack features include some workflow automation, such as automatically collecting payments or collecting data and routing it to people who need it. The dashboard provides a visual display of your data and KPIs, and even in basic versions, you can access custom visual reports of metrics like unique views, conversion rates, and abandonment rates to assess your campaigns.
The caveat with using Formstack for workflow management specifically is that you don’t really access many of the best workflow features until you upgrade to the Gold plan ($82.50/month for 5 users), though cheaper, feature-lite options are available too.
Formstack integrations include business applications like Salesforce, PayPal, MailChimp, Slack, ZenDesk, and 40 others.
Formstack costs from $19/month for 1 user, which allows you to create online forms. It has a 14-day free trial.
PandaDoc - Free deal workflow tool with automatic notifications, on-the-fly editing, and integrated eSignatures
PandaDoc is an all-in-one document automation solution with advanced capabilities, but simple and easy to use for teams of all sizes. Their template and editing tools let users build proposals, interactive quotes, and contracts.
The freemium version of PandaDoc lets you upload documents, send for eSignature, and collect payment for as many items as you’d like. Upgrading to the paid Essentials plan will start to unlock additional functions, like document templates and a rich media drag-and-drop editor. Pricing tables and document analytics are also included in this plan, making it a great starting point.
PandaDoc integrates with PipeDrive, HubSpot CRM, Zoho, Copper, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Zendesk Sell, Insightly, Nimble CRM, Nutshell, Sugar CRM, Freshsales, SalesforceIQ,Stripe, Paypal, Authorize.net, Square, Quickbooks Payments, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Single Sign-on, Freshbooks, Slack, Gmail, Google Sheets, Microsoft OneDrive, Pipeliner CRM, and more through an account with Zapier. Note that some of these integrations are limited to Premium paid accounts only, including Zapier connections.
A downside to note is that the editor is missing out on some simple automation. For example, you need to manually drag-and-drop an initials field onto every page rather than having an “add to all” function.
PandaDoc is free to use. Paid plans cost from $19/user/month and offer a free 14-day trial.
HoneyBook - an easy-to-use software platform designed to help small business owners streamline their processes and manage clients from inquiry to payment
HoneyBook is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) built for small businesses. It’s an easy-to-use software designed to help small business owners streamline their business processes from inquiry to invoice. HoneyBook lets users manage projects, book clients, sign contracts online, send invoices and accept payments.
HoneyBook allows users to view and track various stages of a project, as well as keep invoices, contracts and other documents in one place. Users can respond to clients quickly with automated follow-ups using personalized templates and notifications. In addition, automated payment reminders can be sent and task reminders can be created based on the projects.
HoneyBook can be used by small businesses for booking clients, staying organized, and streamlining their businesses as well as other types of users, such as creatives, entrepreneurs, freelance business owners, hospitality professionals, and health professionals.
HoneyBook is a fully functioning mobile app with a modern and user-friendly interface design, allowing users to manage the business on the go. The tool offers easy-to-use features, including lead capture, Project management, client management, templates, brochures, questionnaires, and bookkeeping.
HoneyBook integrates with tools such as QuickBooks, Calendly, Zapier, Gmail and Google Calendar.
HoneyBook costs $40/month or $400/year and has a 7-day free trial. Only available in the US and Canada.
Proposify - Document automation software to help you create and track proposals, quotes, and contracts as well as sign documents online
Proposify’s design editor offers users the ability to build proposals and maintain company branding across sales documents. It also has a wide range of proposal templates, including options specific to industries, such as advertising and construction.
The tool is packed with features and boasts the ability to increase sign-offs with its built-in, legally binding signature tool allowing prospective clients to sign documents digitally on any device. It also allows clients to input required information straight into the document, helping to reduce the unnecessary, and time-consuming back-and-forth between the rep and the client.
Other features document tracking insights to know how the client is interacting with the document (i.e., when they open it, how long they spend viewing each section), as well as the ability to create a content library with all the necessary descriptions, fees, images, and so on, for quick and easy access when creating documents.
Proposify offers integration with various tools, including Asana, Basecamp, Pipedrive, Trello, Slack, and Stripe.
Proposify starts at $19/user/month and has a 14-day free trial.
ClientPoint - Create a master content library filled with documents, brochures, videos, and more in order to streamline your proposal development
ClientPoint is an enterprise sales relationship platform that covers creating and sending documents as well as rich analytics and real-time alerts. They boast attractive UX, intuitive tools, and robust customizability options.
This app scores well in the evaluation criteria for Features and Functions overall but a particular stand out is the commitment to collaboration. Multiple users can easily connect and collaborate through any device and in real-time.
Integrations include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Netsuite, Hubspot, Zoho, RightSignature, Sertifi, Zendesk Sell, Caterease, Pipedrive, and more.
A minor con is that alerts aren’t more customizable; it would be nice to see a system where you can be reminded exactly what date and time a potential customer asked to be contacted, et cetera.
ClientPoint starts at $65/user/month and has a free demo.
Google Slides - Free to use, Google Slides offers a variety of presentation themes, hundreds of fonts, embedded video, animations, and more
Google Slides is a free, web-based presentation software provided as part of Google Drive along with Docs, Sheets, Forms, and more. Slides is an intuitive tool allowing the application and arrangement of images and texts on pre-designed templates. It can be launch in any web browser and has a mobile app.
Launched in March of 2009, Slides became a viable free alternative to the widely-used Microsoft Powerpoint. No-cost-to-entry scored it highly in the Value for Cost evaluation category, particularly since Google is not known to skimp on features, support, or update.
Google Slides plays well with add-on integrations, including other Google Drive products, competitor products like Microsoft, Adobe, Shutterstock, options from the G Suite Marketplace (some paid, others free), and many other tools through Zapier.
The major con is that most of the presentation slide templates are simple or generic and not particularly easy to adapt to your brand image. You would be better off starting from scratch in most cases and bringing in a designer for help.
Google Drive is free to use.
QuoteWerks - A sales quoting and proposal software solution with Configure Price Quote, Quote-To-Cash sales processes, and RFP response template
QuoteWerks is a digital sales streamline solution that helps you create quotes, invoices, purchase orders, build reports, manage product databases, and more. The app facilitates peer reviews and approvals from sales managers and executives to ensure quality content.
QuoteWerks was a particularly stand-out contender in the Integrations segment of the evaluation criteria. You’ll see below that they have a ton of integration options, including built-in Outlook support. However, they also have shipping integrations, payment gateway integrations, and leasing integrations. Plus, API, SDK, Scripting, and Add-ons.
This tool has a built-in Outlook integration and optional integration with Autotask, Google Contacts, Maximizer Desktop, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Zoho CRM, QuickBooks, Sage 50, Cisco, Dexxxon Digital Storage.
The only complaint to name is that the UI looks a tad dated and options can often get lost in labyrinthine menuing. It is a bit buggy with certain integrations, like Quickbooks, but otherwise healthy.
QuoteWerks starts at $15/user/month and has a free trial as well as 30-day money-back guarantee.
RFPIO - RFP automation software with plenty of business tool integrations, auto-responses, and reports, tied together with a clean, user-friendly design
RFPIO is a request-for-proposal automation system used by Microsoft, Adobe, and Zoom. They have high-quality import and export functionality, CRM integrations, project management solutions, a user-friendly design interface, a dynamic repository (the Answer Library), and more.
The Answer Library is a welcomed amplification to a few items on our Features & Functions piece of the evaluation criteria. First of all, having a compiled database of regularly used content helps with the speed and accuracy of proposal templates. Secondly, it’s a hands-off collaboration key that can provide information to any interested party, per their access levels.
Integrations include Salesforce, Dynamics CRM, Pipedrive, Pipelinedeals, HubSpot, Sharepoint, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Microsoft ADFS, Microsoft Azure, Onelogin, Okta, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and more.
As far as critiques go, some navigation within projects was a bit cumbersome. Read-Only access to certain items would be a wishlist item.
RFPIO offers pricing by contact and has a free demo available.
Xait - Co-authoring and automation software solution ideal for collaboratively creating, managing and producing professional documents and proposals
XaitPorter is a co-authoring software solution that lets you and your team collaboratively create, manage, and produce documents. It includes auto-formatting and numbering, custom layouts, a database to store reusable content, various exportation formats, and more.
XaitPorter is particularly helpful at automating simple but repetitive processes like writing, formatting, and templates. These automation features are quite intuitive, so anyone with the interest can tap into them to save time.
Xait lists the following vendors as Partners on their website, implying some level of possible integration: SalesEngine, Artbox, Salesframe, Oracle, Right BI, Marcura, and Sysco.
In the evaluation criteria, the importance of Integration cannot be understated. Xait lost a few marks for not clearly stating all integration possibilities on their website as well as being limited in the way it interacts with Excel, a rather key program.
Xait offers pricing by contact and has a free demo available.
ConnectWise - Template-based quotes and proposals, automate data entry to reduce human error, compare and pull pricing from a variety of sources, and more
ConnectWise is a proposal creator and quote tool designed to deliver professional-grade documents, notifications for customer interaction, procurement automation, renewal reminders, CRM updates, customizable pricing rules, and more.
ConnectWise is very feature-rich, so it’s a good jack-of-all-trades for those who need one. Through the program, you can design proposals, track issues, manage inventory, keep CRM notes, and more.
ConnectWise integrates with tools from Cisco, Dell, HP, Ingram, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Salesforce, Techdata, and more.
Usability was a bit neglected per our evaluation standards, as the learning barrier to entry was quite high and customer service response times are reportedly quite low. Consulting and premium customer service support cost an extra fee, even for Premium Plan members.
ConnectWise offers pricing by contact and has a free demo available.
The Best Proposal Management Software Tools Summary Chart
Other RFP Automation Options
Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for handy proposal automation, check these out.
RFP Management Software FAQ
Have some questions about proposal management software? That’s okay, chances are you’re not the only one wondering about this or that. That’s why I’ve compiled the below FAQ to answer some commonly asked questions about RFPs, writing proposals, and more.
What is an RFP?
RFP stands for “request for proposal.” Typically linked to a bidding system of some sort, a request for a proposal is when a company requests a particular service or skill and allows qualified groups to submit pitches to accept the job. The pitches typically include a timeline, a cost, and any other useful information that might win them the job. Proposal management tools come in handy when developing a response to the RFPs process.
What is proposal management?
Proposal management is the building of a teachable, reusable system for building, processing, and approving written documents that typically outline and secure a sale or deal of some kind. A proposal manager is usually assigned to walk through this process from start to finish, from planning the proposal to gather contributions from key contacts and quality checking before submission.
How to write a proposal?
I go more in-depth into the proposal writing process in my article How to Write a Proposal that Clients Can’t Say No To. B
ut, for now, writing a proposal will include the following key parts:
2. Project Summary
3. Project Details
5. Any references cited
The introduction will primarily be a statement of the problem and a suggested solution or thesis. The Project Summary will be a short, concise elevator-pitch of your proposed solution. The Project Details will breakdown HOW you are going to achieve the aforementioned solution and typically includes items like timeline, costs, resources needed, deliverables, and risk assessment. Finally, the Conclusion summarizes all of the above. If you have cited any academic or professional sources, you can also include a References section.
What Do You Think About the Proposal Management Software Listed Above?
Whether you need a software development proposal or a product sales proposal, there is a tool out there that speaks to your unique needs. I hope this list has helped you find a proposal document tool that will help with responding to request for proposals and earning new business.
Have you tried out any of the proposal management apps that we outlined? Do you have any free proposal software or paid proposal software that you think is missing from the list? What marketing RFP databases do you need help breaking into? What kind of request for proposal documents do you find yourself needing the most?
Let us know in the comments below.