“The Proposal” is typically the first work product your client will ever see from you. And first impressions impact buying decisions.
My agency partners and I have been crafting proposals for a combined 50+ years. Along the way we’ve learned which features close more deals and make our lives easier.
There are dozens of proposal writing software companies to consider. All of them seem to offer the same service. How are they different? Is one better than another for specific industries?
To simplify your selection process, we've tested and reviewed the top proposal software available. We're gonna outline the key differences and share our recommendations based on our experience, overall usability, and cost.
Our Top Pick
Our Rating – 4.9/5
Our favorite proposal software is Better Proposals. We chose them because they have:
- Digital signing and payment to help you close deals faster
- A super-simple interface so you can create proposals in minutes
- The best selection of professional-looking proposal templates (over 160)
- Affordable pricing
- Pipeline Reporting to see where all your proposals are in the sales process
Table of Contents
- What is proposal software?
- What are the benefits of using proposal software?
- What are the common features of proposal software?
- Best Proposal Software
- Proposal Management Software Comparison
- How to choose proposal software
- What is the Best Proposal Management Software?
What is proposal software?
In its simplest form, proposal management software helps businesses write, send, analyze, and automate proposals. Typically, these tools are cloud-based and can be utilized by marketing and sales teams for a monthly or annual fee.
What are the benefits of using proposal software?
There are many benefits to using online proposal software. For one, it beats the heck out of designing a proposal in Microsoft Word, saving it to your desktop as a PDF, then sharing it with your prospect or client.
In general, there are two primary benefits of using proposal management software:
- Cost savings from reduced development and administrative labor.
- An improved closing ratio from better branding, collaboration tools, and analytics.
What are the common features of proposal software?
Some of the most common proposal software features include:
- Templates – Proposal software companies provide paid users with hundreds of professionally designed templates. This saves a boatload of time with writing and designing. It also helps with branding.
- Collaboration – Proposal-specific communication with team members, prospects, and clients is centralized to one place making it easier to iterate on terms and move deals forward.
- Integrations and APIs – You can integrate proposal software with other apps like CRMs, accounting software, project management tools, and virtually anything with technology that has an API. This cuts down on administrative time and can help provide a seamless onboarding experience. When assessing a potential solution, look at prebuilt integrations. All the top providers have open APIs, so you can connect to virtually any app, but you'll ideally want to choose a solution that already plays nice with your other tools.
- Analytics – Being able to see if a client opened a proposal and how much time they spent reading a particular section is invaluable. This data can help you fine-tune your proposal development process, address potential concerns, and streamline your sales process. I once spent around 8-10 hours developing a custom proposal for a prospect. Then, I implemented proposal software and realized how little time my prospects actually spent reading my recommendations. Sometimes it was even less than 5 minutes!
- eSignatures and Payments – Online proposal software provides integrated signature and payment features, so your prospect can sign your legally binding terms & conditions page and pay a deposit in minutes.
Best Proposal Software
The 5 best online proposal management software solutions based on our professional experience and thorough testing are:
- Better Proposals – Read our review
- Pandadoc – Read our review
- Proposify – Read our review
- Prospero – Read our review
- Bidsketch – Read our review
Best overall proposal management software
Better Proposals is an online proposal builder that allows users to create professional-looking proposals quickly and effectively. Its program is built with user-friendly services to deliver high-quality and effective proposals for clients.
They provide an entire library of ready-made templates and drag-and-drop tools that allow you to create professional-looking proposals at a fraction of the time it usually takes to do so.
They optimize the time it takes to get a business deal moving by directly emailing proposals while providing detailed analytics on your progress.
Check out our detailed Better Proposals Review.Visit Better Proposals
Best for document automation [all kinds of docs, not just proposals]
Pandadoc is cloud-based document management software that helps users in creating proposals, quotes, human resources documents, contracts, and more. The solution is mostly used by sales and marketing teams and company leadership.
Whether you want to create custom proposals or edit one of their ready-made templates, Pandadoc gives you the tools to do so. You can write proposals, save them in a cloud-based library, send them to clients, and track overall progress all in one place.
Suited for many types of different businesses, Pandadoc aims to streamline the proposal process while optimizing sales and marketing tasks.
Check out our detailed Pandadoc Review.Visit Pandadoc
Best for enterprises and sales teams of 10 or more
Proposify is a cloud-based proposal software designed to create business proposals for businesses through various tools and templates.
They have a content library and a drag-and-drop feature that lets you choose between case studies, sections, and fees. Users can also track the progress of their proposals and get insights into who’s viewing their documents.
Suited for web design companies and startups, Proposify aims to streamline the proposal process and automate tasks for sales and marketing teams.
Check out our detailed Proposify Review.Visit Proposify
Best for solo entrepreneurs and freelancers
Prospero is a cloud-based proposal creation software that helps users create simple yet professional-looking business proposals in a matter of minutes. They offer plenty of templates that their users can edit and populate with their own branding material.
Prospero allows you to send your proposals directly to clients. It also comes with eSignature capabilities and various integrations to streamline the sales process.
Check out our detailed Prospero Review.Visit Prospero
Best for nonprofits
Bidsketch is a professional proposal creation software that lets you create effective business proposals while giving you the means to send them out to clients. With dozens of ready-made templates, you can engage potential clients through electronic proposals and landing pages.
Check out our detailed Bidsketch Review.Visit Bidsketch
Proposal Management Software Comparison
|Our Full Review||Better Proposals Review||Pandadoc Review||Proposify Review||Prospero Review||Bidsketch Review|
|Editor's Notes||Best overall proposal mangement software. Deep library of templates. Built for a smooth user experience.||Best for document workflow automation. Not just a proposal management software, but can handle proposals well.||Best for enterprises. Also good for larger marketing and sales teams + fast-growing businesses. Their "Venti" plan is very flexible and custom built to scale with your organization.||Best for solo entrepreneurs. Not a ton of bells and whistles but does the job, especially if you're a freelancer just getting started.||Best for non-profit organizations. Their software is completely free to use if you are a 501(c)(3).|
|Integrations||40+ including Zapier, PayPal and Salesforce.||21+ including Zapier, PayPal and Salesforce.||33 including Zapier, Slack and numerous CRM systems.||Freshbooks only.||6+ including Zapier and Salesforce.|
|Pricing||See Plans||See Plans||See Plans||See Plans||See Plans|
How to choose proposal software
Choosing the best online proposal software from the get-go is important because it saves time and unnecessary migration expenses. To make your decision a little easier, we narrowed down the four most important factors to consider when choosing a provider.
Ease of use
Ultimately, you need to be comfortable with the user interface and software. Fortunately, getting a taste isn't very difficult. All of the top providers offer some type of free trial. We typically recommend setting up an account with at least 2 or 3 solutions that you are considering. This will give you backend access where you can start to test out different features.
Is the proposal editor easy to use? Can you easily import contacts and templates? How difficult is it to customize a template with your branding and content? These are things that you can easily test in a few minutes before making the commitment to a paid monthly or annual subscription.
Integration with other apps
Chances are, your business uses a myriad of other programs and third-party applications to handle your business needs. Your proposal workflows should not be mutually exclusive from those tools. They should be integrated to automate redundant processes and increase overall efficiency.
Determine if you need to connect your proposal software with Salesforce, Slack, MailChimp, or another application. Then, browse the apps and integrations pages. While all proposal software solutions typically come with a robust API, you can save yourself some development hours and dollars by using pre-built integrations. More integrations are usually a good sign and show that the software company is committed to continued development and support.
Many online proposal software solutions cater to specific industries and niches. A lot of them were developed to support the demand for digital services like web development and marketing. Others, however, have existing client bases and expertise in industries like construction, education, financial services, and healthcare. This is extremely helpful when building out legal sections like the scope of work and agreement.
Browse template galleries to find a provider that has a wide variety of different assets. Even if they are not “industry specific”, you can find inspiration in design, pricing structures, legal, and other components. The less you can reinvent the wheel the better. The best providers give you the ability to bootstrap and piece-meal together a template quickly so you don't have to get bogged down with custom design and development.
Pricing and scalability
Finding proposal software that offers scalable plans is important, especially for larger sales teams and fast-growing businesses. Most of the proposal software solutions come with a cap on the number of user seats and open proposals that you can have out on the street. This can be cost-prohibitive for businesses that send a large number of proposals. Though you can work around this by setting up a process to archive open proposals after a certain period of time. It's also a good excuse to go back to the prospect/client and urge them to move forward.
Scalability also relates to the types of documents that you want to send. If you are considering an all-in-one document management solution, pay careful attention to tiered pricing tables. What's included and not included on certain plans? You don't want to run into a scenario where you start out sending proposals, but also want to send out contracts, and have to add-on another third-party tool (more money).
What is the Best Proposal Management Software?
Online proposal software is an incredibly valuable tool for a variety of businesses. The software that we highlighted in this article are all fairly robust and offer competitive pricing.
Editor's Pick: Our favorite proposal management software is Better Proposals. They provide the best user experience, pricing, and wide selection of plug and play templates so you can start sending and closing proposals fast!Visit Better Proposals
At the end of the day, it's all about usability and cost. After all, marketing and sales is all about ROI. We've tested every provider on this list and have found that Better Proposals is the best online proposal management software. Setting up an account and sending out your first proposal takes less than an hour. Also, their flexible API and pre-built integrations make setting up your proposal automation workflows a breeze.
Best of all, they offer a deep library of templates for proposals, client sign-offs, contracts, statements of work (SOWs), quotes, and even online brochures.