Last updated on March 11th, 2019 at 08:29 am
Do you put off writing business proposals, even though you know it will bring yoursmall business more opportunities?
Business proposal software can help you get this task off your to-do list.
It can help you create draft proposals, reduce writing time, and keep pending proposals organized better.
In this analysis, we evaluate PandaDoc, Proposify, and BidSketch, the top business proposal software that provides these features. We also considered other key features, such as price, integrations, support, and more.
Our Top Pick: PandaDoc
PandaDoc is easy to use and it comes with a toolbox of unique features such as the ability to process credit card payments.
Considering you can send an unlimited number of proposals with PandaDoc, it is the best value.
Top Business Proposal Software Providers[table “128” not found /]
Our Method to Evaluate the Business Proposal Software
You write a business proposal when you want to win a contract.
A good proposal presents a compelling case for choosing your company over your competitor’s companies.
Using business proposal software, you can prepare a great business proposal in less time with the professional templates and unique interactive tools. Features include selectable pricing tables and e-signatures.
While your business may use Word or Goggle Docs, you will find that business proposal software helps you write proposals faster and stay organized between all your ongoing projects.
We looked at the following four key factors to decide which software was the best for a small business:
- The types of tools provided with each program to help you draft a proposal. You may want more than just the basics, such as adding photos or customizing the font.
We wanted to find out if interactive features are available. For example, a pricing table where clients can select different options such as quantities.
- How your client interacts with the proposal after they receive it. Does your client simply view it and click “accept”? Or can the client e-sign the document, add notes, or pay with a credit card?
- If the program allows you to track the proposals after you send them. Instead of just waiting and wondering if you will get a response, some programs tell you when the client opened your proposal, how long they spent reading it, and even how much time they spent reading each page.
- How the software integrates with other programs. Some of the programs can be used within a CRM, such as Zoho or Insightly. You can easily and quickly draft proposals using pre-populated fields and never have to leave your CRM.
Best Business Proposal Software for Small Business: PandaDoc
Easily the best of the three programs we looked at, PandaDoc was the only program to excel at each of the four main factors we looked evaluated.
PandaDoc delivers a simple editor for drafting engaging and professional proposals. After you email the proposal to your client, PandaDoc provides the ability for them to interact with the proposal.
They can select different items, fill out any field you require, and add notes. And, if you require a deposit, PandaDoc will allow you to include the option for clients to pay with credit card directly from the proposal.
Once you email the proposal, you can see what time it was opened, how long it was viewed for, and which pages the client is looking at for the longest time.
You can use this information to refine and improve your future proposals for this and other clients. Another great feature of PandaDoc that provides the best value out of the three programs reviewed is that there are no limits on how many proposals you send.
You can send out as many proposals as you want to and there is no additional charge. Proposify, our pick for the runner up to PandaDoc, limits you to only five active proposals on a comparative edition.
We found only one downside to PandaDoc. Unless you upgrade to the Business edition, at a cost of $49 per month or $39 per month when paid annually, you can’t access third party integrations. Even so, PandaDoc’s integrations are very robust.
For example, using Insightly you can create and send proposals using the CRM’s pre-populated data.
While Proposify is very similar to PandaDoc, it has an advantage in that you can access invoicing and CRM integrations with a $25 per month account – compared to $49 per month for PandaDoc.
The downside is that this edition provides for only five active proposals at one time.
Without features such as credit card processing and text forms, which let your client answer questions right on the proposal, Proposify just is not as robust as PandaDoc.
Taking a completely different approach to the proposal writing process.
BidSketch does not use a graphic-based editing approach like Proposify and PandaDoc.
Instead, BidSketch is like a directed journey through the steps of writing a proposal.
BidSketch’s step-by-step guidance is a great approach for non-visual learners. However, BidSketch is missing key features, such as text forms, credit card processing, and being able to track how long the client spends reading each page.
There really isn’t much difference in the price of all three programs. The price is around $30 per month if you pay monthly and around $20 per month if you pay annually.
But, there is a big difference in what you get for your money in the three programs.
You get the ability to send as many proposals as you want. It doesn’t matter which edition you choose.
With a starting price of $29 per month ($19 if paid annually) for one user, you will get all the main features. Integrations and a content library for saving parts of your proposal (such as an introduction or a pricing table) are extra.
However, you can save these parts of your proposal in your templates, but you are limited to saving only five templates.
The $49 per month ($39 if paid annually) edition includes all if the items above as well as giving you an unlimited number of templates.
In addition, it gives you manager approval workflow, which allows a manager to review all proposals before they are sent out. Phone support is also provided in this edition.
Proposify begins at $25 per month or $20.83 if paid annually.
With this version, you will be able to have an unlimited number of user accounts; however, you can only have five active proposals at one time.
With the $50 per month version, you will get up to 25 active proposals at one time. Each succeeding edition provides for a higher limit as well as role, permission and team management features.
Starting at $29 per month for one user, or $23 if paid annually, BidSketch delivers an unlimited number of proposals.
With this edition you get all the crucial features, but you don’t get team management or real time collaboration.
You can get these at the next higher level for $70 per month ($47 if paid annually) along with three user accounts.
Writing the Proposal
If you’re like most small business owners, you are looking for ways to become more efficient.
And if you are looking at business proposal software, you want to choose something that will help you create the best professional-looking proposals in less time.
All three of these programs can help you write professional-looking proposals in less time. The right choice for your business depends on the type of learner you are and exactly what features you need.
With a more hands-on and traditional approach, BidSketch, will gradually walk you through every step of the process. Unfortunately, you must wait until the very end of the process to see your full proposal.
Proposify and PandaDoc, however, are perfect for visual learners. They allow you to jump in and begin the editing process from the start.
Before we jump into the unique editing features offered by each program, let’s go over the features each program contains. Each of the three programs:
- Require an electronic signature
- Brand your proposal with a logo, font choice, color scheme, and more
- Create a pricing table that contains selectable item and quantities
- Automatically calculate tax
- Embed YouTube videos
Differences: Each program has different features and we will go over some of those features below:
Here is a screen shot for an event management proposal developed in PandaDoc.
As soon as you choose a template in PandaDoc, you can start scrolling and editing as you would in a document editor like Word or PowerPoint.
Blocks, which are objects such as tables and video embeds, can add excitement and style to your presentation. Simply drag and drop these blocks from the tool bar on the right.
PandaDoc delivers the finest selection of blocks, including blocks with interactive features. For instance, it is possible to add a text box where the client can answer a question or choose a start date.
Such subtle but important features can make your proposal stand out from your competitors and these features were not found in the other programs reviewed here.
PandaDoc also provides the unique capacity to include a payment selection to pay with a credit card, to add a table of contents and custom CSS code, and to require electronic signatures throughout the proposal.
Your proposal can be structured to request clients to add initials in various spots. You can even ask different people to sign in different spots.
The other programs do provide for electronic signatures but they are not as robust. Proposify does not provide for initials. Bidsketch asks for one signature after the client clicks ‘accept’.
Here is a screenshot for a catering proposal developed in Proposify.
Like PandaDoc, Proposify uses a Word or PowerPoint editing style with a toolbar on the right to drag and drop blocks.
Proposify has the unique ability to allow you to draw on your proposal.
You can add shapes and lines, which could be useful for specialized formatting or drawing simple diagrams within your proposal. Heavy graphics editing or design would be best done in a different program.
Similar to PandaDoc, Proposify allows you to add signature boxes. However, you can’t ask for initials or accept payment via credit card. You can’t ask recipients to fill out fields.
Here is a screenshot of developing a graphic design proposal in BidSketch.
As you can see, BidSketch uses a different approach. Instead of operating like a document editor, such as Proposify or PandaDoc, Bidsketch walks you through a group of questions to create the proposal.
Answer the questions by adding text and objects for each section. BidSketch then puts it all together and creates a professional-looking proposal.
This approach has its upside and its downside. The upside is its usefulness to people who are new to writing proposals. BidSketch will walk you thought the entire process.
It even gives you hints on what to include in the different sections. And you can save different sections and then paste them into subsequent proposals.
The downside is that BidSketch may be a bit perplexing to those familiar with working on a visual editor.
Since you can’t see your whole proposal until the final step is done, some people find they want to go back and make changes during the process. For example, if one section seems too long or short.
Transmitting The Proposal and Client Tools
You have two ways to transmit the proposal – either print it out or send it via email. If you decide to transmit it via email, you will get a lot more in the way of features.
When your potential client opens the proposal, they can click to approve it or to deny it. Other features are available to them as well, such as requesting changes or adding notes.
Here’s a look at how each program varies:
Your potential client will be guided through the process of signing, initialing, checking boxes, or submitting notes.
Then your customer will be prompted to accept and continue or to decline the proposal. Notes can also be added and the notes will be visible to you on your dashboard.
As with PandaDoc, once your client opens the email, they can accept or decline the proposal and add comments.
But, unlike PandaDoc, your clients will not get a guided walk-through.
An uncommon feature provided by Proposify is their send menu. The send menu allows you to preview and edit the email appearance before sending it to your client. You can also set up a thank you email to be sent if they accept the proposal.
Another feature is the ability to set up a reminder email to go out after a certain number of days. These features are not available with the other programs reviewed.
Similar to Proposify, BidSketch provides your client with a simple menu after they open the proposal. Your client can add notes at the bottom.
They are provided with the options to accept or decline the proposal. BidSketch also provides a unique third option – to postpone.
Once you’ve written and sent your proposal are you ready to patiently sit and wait for the response?
Well, there’s no more waiting and wondering when you are using proposal software. With proposal software, you can know precisely when your potential client opens your proposal and how long they spend reading it. PandaDoc and Proposify even allow you to see how much time your client spends on each page or section. With this information you can
- Immediately determine how interested your potential client is
- Establish which sections of your proposal are the most interesting and which are skipped. You can use this information to write more effective proposals.
PandaDoc: With PandaDoc you get information on when the potential client opens your proposal and how long they spend on each page
Proposify: With Proposify you can see when your potential client opens your proposal and how long they stay on each section.
BidSketch: With BidSketch you can see when your proposal is opened and how long is spent reading it. BidSketch can’t tell you how much time your client spends on each page.
Do you have the type of business that sends out hundreds of proposals a month? Then you probably clearly see the benefits of using business proposal software.
But if you only send one to two proposals a month, you might be wondering if it’s worth the convenience to sign up for another software program promising to help make your business more efficient.
One of the advantages of using online proposal software is integration with other systems, including CRM and invoicing software.
The integration means you can automatically fill your proposal with CRM data. Or, with just a few clicks, you can convert your proposal to a project or to invoices.
Integration allows you to incorporate your business programs with your proposal software program to improve workflow and business processes.
Each of the three programs we looked at provide for a different set of integrations, as discussed below:
PandaDoc: Many CRMs integrate with PandaDoc, including Zoho, Insightly, Hubspot, Salesforce, BaseCRM, Pipedrive and more.
The precise features of the integration vary with each program. In general, you would update your deals with contacts imported from a CRM whenever a proposal is sent.
You can create PandaDoc proposals within the CRM with the Insightly integration. Although PandaDoc does not integrate with any invoicing program.
It does provide its own payment processing function. You can request credit payment directly on the proposal itself.
Proposify: With Proposify you get a wide range of CRM program integrations, including Hubspot, Insightly, Zoho, and more.
You also get integration with a few accounting and invoicing programs, including QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
With this feature you can painlessly translate your proposal into an invoice.Proposify provides a few more integrations that are supported through the third-party integration service, Zapier.
BidSketch: Salesforce, Basecamp, Harvest, Freshcamp and a few more integrations are supported by BidSketch. Similar to Proposify, BidSketch provides more integrations through Zapier, the third-party integration service.
Business Proposal Software: Our Final Review
If you procrastinate when it’s time to write business proposals, you should know that the right business proposal program will help you write a high-quality proposal in less time. On top of that, the program can keep you better organized in the process.
Of the three programs we analyzed, PandaDoc is easily the best. It is easy to use and comes with a toolbox of unique features, including the ability to accept credit card payment directly on the contract. You can send an unlimited number of proposals.
The editor tool delivers useful features like signature boxes and text fields. Integration with CRMs such as Insightly can help you draft proposals quickly, simplify your workflow, and stay more organized.
The WiseSmallBusiness Team is full of industry experts and successful business owners willing to contribute important business articles.