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Best Proposal Management Software Tools To Win New Business

By 06/12/2019 No Comments
 

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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.

The Best RFP Project Management Tools List

Here’s a shortlist of the best online proposal software options:

  1. Proposify
  2. Google Slides
  3. InDesign
  4. ClientPoint
  5. ConnectWise
  6. Xait
  7. RFPIO
  8. Better Proposals
  9. GetAccept
  10. Venngage

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. Features & Functionality:
    a. Proposal Templates
    – Does the tool offer some sort of online proposal generator to get you started with basic templates and forms? Are 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 – Does 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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Proposal management software featured image

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.

1. Proposify – Document automation software to help you create and track proposals, quotes, and contracts as well as sign documents online.

proposify proposal software screenshot

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.

2. Google Slides – Free to use, Google Slides offers a variety of presentation themes, hundreds of fonts, embedded video, animations, and more.

Google Slides

Collaborate easily with your entire team to create a visual presentation for any proposal.

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.

3. InDesign  – Adobe’s tool for designing documents, with access to a library of professional business proposal layouts and templates plus advanced design tools.

In Design

Build your own proposal templates in InDesign or edit any of the templates provided in Spark.

InDesign is part of the Adobe software suite and is built primarily as layout and page design software for print and digital media. They have a wide range of templates, graphic designs, typography options, and image stock. Most printing companies can work with InDesign.

Adobe is industry-leading with its design, editing, and layout programs like InDesign and Photoshop and Lightroom. InDesign is incredibly flexible, diverse, and can integrate with many other apps and tools because of its popularity.

InDesign allows plug?in modules and other integrations with other software; for example, Asana, Shutterstock, Paymo Timetracker, Getty Images, Workfront, Wrike, and an app for any feature you can think of (overlays, barcode generation, CMS, version control, collage templates, et cetera).

InDesign loses points on our evaluation criteria spectrum because Usability can be a major hurdle to overcome. Like many Adobe programs, it has a steep learning curve and there are whole college courses dedicated to it alone. That means it’s not great for novice designers.

Adobe InDesign starts at $20.99/user/month and has a 7-day free trial.

4. ClientPoint – Create a master content library filled with documents, brochures, videos, and more in order to streamline your proposal development.

Client Point

ClientPoint empowers you to create, customize, and send consistent, engaging content.

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.

5. 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

Deliver a professional and interactive quote experience to new and existing customers.

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.

6. Xait – Xait is a co-authoring and automation software solution ideal for collaboratively creating, managing and producing professional documents and proposals.

Xait

The Dashboard gives you an instant overview of all your tasks, documents, and comments.

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.

7. RFPIO – RFP automation software with plenty of business tool integrations, auto-responses, and reports, tied together with a clean, user-friendly design.

RFPIO’s patented import functionality allows you to upload from any source.

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.

8. Better Proposals – Create high-impact proposals with a selection of visual assets, written templates, and integrated signature and payment features.

Customize a template from their Marketplace easily and quickly for high-turnaround projects.

Better Proposals is a proposal management solution that lets you pick and customize cover pages and internal documentation by tapping into their creative Marketplace (or designing from scratch). They have analytics, notifications, digital signatures, proposal AI, and more.

As far as our evaluation criteria items are concerned, Better Proposals is easily one of the best choices for paid programs in the Value for Dollar category. They have a low barrier to entry cost-wise, making them ideal for small businesses.

Integrations include Active Campaign, Agile CRM, Base, Capsule, Close, Freshsales, Highrise, Hubspot CRM, InfusionSoft, Insightly, Nimble, Salesforce, Salesflare, Zoho, Stripe, Paypal, Drift, Jivochat, Pure Chat, Zendesk Chat, Asana, Basecamp, Trello, Teamwork, Wrike, and more. If you subscribe to their Premium or Enterprise Plans you get Zapier bundled in, opening up 1500+ more options.

During the design stage, more types of content blocks would be a welcome addition to many templates. This would increase the usability and flexibility for users who are working with a lot of content and data.

Better Proposals starts at $19/user/month and has a 14-day free trial.

9. GetAccept – All-in-one platform to streamline sales engagement (including chat, video, and SMS) contract management, proposals and quotes, and procurement.

Video, live chat, proposal design, document tracking, and e-signature for your sales team.

GetAccept is a B2B sales enablement platform that utilizes video, live chat, proposal design, document tracking, and e-signature to automate and simplify workflows. They support all document types for import/export, including Adobe PDF, Microsoft, and Google.

GetAccept has a good chunk of integration options and all the basics you need for proposal management for a rather modest price compared to what else is out there. This tool would work well for a smaller team testing the waters of proposal management systems.

Integrations include Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Freshsales, and LimeGo.

The UI felt a little derivative and clunky compared to some others on the list. That’s why they lost a few marks in the UX and Usability categories of the evaluation criteria.

GetAccept starts at $25/user/month and has a 14-day free trial and a free demo.

10. Venngage – An online design software with dozens of customizable proposal templates as well as tools to create reports, charts, and other visualizations.

Venngage

Venngage offers a library of fully customizable templates and web-based graphic design software.

Venngage is a web-based creatives builder for marketers and sales reps without traditional design skills. It offers a host of product templates, including proposals, infographics, presentations, brochures, reports, newsletters, business plans, and more.

In regards to the Value for Dollar category of the evaluation criteria, Venngage gets special points for offering a whole range of options. They have the typical business and individual plans, as expected, and then include various discounts for students, educators and schools, and non-profits/NGOs.

Integration information was not made available.

The primary con is that many of the template types are not designed to be printed by an average printer (not without painstakingly cutting and pasting, that is). If you are looking for digital-only documents, then you are set.

Vennage starts at $19/user/month and offers 5 free infographics if you want to test out the UI.

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.

    • QuoteWerks – A sales quoting and proposal software solution with Configure Price Quote, Quote-To-Cash sales processes, and RFP response template.
    • Quote Roller – Quote Roller lets you create sales documents, employ dynamic quoting, get electronic signatures, and improve your sales processes.
    • Nusii – Beautiful, simple proposal management software to help you create professional proposals along with tools for proposal tracking, automation, and online signatures.
    • Osmosis – Simple software designed to streamline the proposal process with custom branding, proposal templates, document signing, and an activity steam for updates.
    • Qwilr – Online proposal software that integrates with CRMs offering a proposal builder, template library, and tools to manage quotes, sales docs, sign-offs, and payments.
    • Loopio – An RFP response software to centralize and automate responses to RFPs, DDQs, and Security Questionnaires.
    • PandaDoc – Software to manage and create quotes, proposals, contracts, and e-signatures with useful KPI dashboards and out-of-the-box integrations.
    • Proposable – Smart proposal management software with popular CRM integrations and an intuitive drag-and-drop proposal builder.
    • Bidsketch – Proposal management software designed to save time and headache with templates, automated follow-ups, built-in electronic signatures, and real-time analytics.
    • Conga Collaborate – Document collaboration software to create, share and track business documents with a doc builder, real-time analytics, and workflows.
    • DealHub.io – A tool that enables you to collaborate with all deal stakeholders through sharing content and pricing, negotiating deal terms and e-signing the deal.
    • RFP360 – RFP360’s unified software platform helps you control RFP, RFI and questionnaire content, collaborate easily with scalable proposal completion.

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:

1. Introduction,
2. Project Summary
3. Project Details
4. Conclusion
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 proposal 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.

 

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Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedigitalprojectmanager.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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