There’s something about drafting proposals and quotes that kind of suck.
At first, you jump on a call with a prospect and learn about their needs and wants. If you like your work, it’s probably the part of the sales process you enjoy.
Depending on the complexity of the service, you may need to have another call to qualify the client, before you’ll send out the proposal.
Why? Because writing proposals suck. And let’s not forget that it’s non-billable time that you’re putting into creating proposals.
It takes time, and on most occasions, your proposals look boring. Not that proposals have to look exciting, but every document you send out communicates a story about your brand.
In our consultancy office, just a few years ago, we sent out proposals via e-mail only or as super boring Word or PDF files (if clients insisted or looked like they want something professional).
Even thinking about the old days when I was drafting these proposals makes me tired.
And then we started to test different proposal apps. And there are some pretty good proposal apps out there.
Below, I am going to list out the ones that we kind of liked. And some that I looked up and learned about for the sake of writing this article. But a word of caution – we never committed to any of them to a longer time period. And because none of them really does the trick the way we want to, we’re building the SendQu proposal app, which is our own.
But before we look into the proposal apps we tried and tested, let’s first try to understand what features make or break a proposal app.
What Is A Proposal App?
Proposal app is a software which enables you to draft and send business proposals and quotations. And why would you need one? To close more clients, simplify the proposal creation process, and automate some of the sales processes.
All big enterprises use tools to send out proposals. To track the metrics, and to close more deals. But big enterprise solutions are also difficult to learn, clunky, and no freelancer or SME will want to pay a high fee nor learn these apps.
But it is a good idea to use a suitable proposal app. It makes your company look more professional, you’ll save a lot of time, and you will gain more insight into your metrics. Not to mention automated reminders and different personalization features. Not all apps have all the features, hence the decision must be made according to your needs.
And, a good proposal app should support your lifestyle. I.e, if you’re a digital nomad moving around a lot, you should be able to crank out a good proposal on your phone. Without much of a hassle.
Imagine that. Sitting on a beach, drinking a mojito, and putting together a killer proposal on your phone in 2-minutes. If the client accepts, the invoice is generated automatically. No need to bug your accountant and pay a fee or do extra moves for the invoice. Or if they don’t accept immediately, the app will send out reminders to do so.
Yeah, I know, a business doesn’t work like that. No one sits on the beach and makes money without doing the work.
You do have to do the (billable) work, but still, you don’t need to sweat in an office just because you promised to send out a proposal within 2-hours after making the strategy call with the new client.
Oh, and these cool features and processes I just described doing stuff on mobile in 2-minutes, etc? These are features of SendQu (the app we’re building, in case you missed this part above).
This was just a little nudge to get you interested in our proposal app. But, going forward, we’re going to take off the SendQu hat and will put on the impartial consumer hat.
Next, let’s take a look at what makes a good proposal app.
What makes a good proposal app?
Thus far we’ve established that using a proposal app has a range of benefits over the traditional way of sending proposals – integrations, metrics, electronic sign-offs, automated check-outs, and professional designs.
Let’s look into each of the main reasons that make a good proposal app. I won’t use any particular order, as it’s difficult to say which concrete benefit or feature matters most for the specific user.
Great looking proposals
While one can argue that the design and look of the proposal isn’t the main thing, it’s still part of your brand and how you do things. And how you communicate your message. Whenever I receive a great looking proposal, it gives me extra confidence that it’s a serious business I am dealing with. Most proposal apps give you a set of different proposal templates, and it’s likely you’ll find something that you like.
For me, this is one of the most important features. I want to track which proposals get accepted, which are still pending, and where I have to do follow-ups. This enables me to close more sales and track the monetary amount of sent proposals, accepted proposals, and declined proposals. Which in turn gives me a possibility to set goals and KPIs for what to improve, etc.
A good proposal software should enable you to send out your proposals as links. No more PDFs or Word files. Links have responsive designs and can be edited easily without having to send out another PDF if something has to be changed.
The best proposal apps enable you to collect payments from your clients once they click accept. And generate an automatic invoice for your bookkeeping (and client’s). This will take away the need to head over to another software to create an invoice, or ring your accountant to draft one.
If you have a client agreement attached to the proposal or it’s just a standard procedure to have the proposals signed off, then good proposal apps have that feature as well. No need to print & scan or any of that 90s time-wasters.
Now that we’ve covered some key features, let’s quickly recap the benefits of these features as well.
As a result of using a proposal app, you should be able to enjoy cranking out a lot more proposals in a fraction of a time. If that is not happening, then something is off. However, I do believe that most proposal tools help you to save time. Especially if you’re re-using existing proposals you’ve created in the past.
Proposal software should help you to unite some of the needed activities into one. Like creating an invoice and getting paid. If you can automate some of these things then it’s already a win. And if your software doesn’t support that, you should switch to a new one.
Understanding what’s happening with your proposals
This relates back to metrics and tracking. For a long time, I had no idea how many proposals we’re sending out, what’s the value of these proposals, and what is the percentage of the proposals we’re actually converting.
Ok, so we’re good to go. Let’s take a look at 8 proposal apps on the market.
Qwilr is pretty dope. They have decent designs, probably some of the best designs in the industry (if you like the traditional looking templates). But they’re not cheap. Qwilr is pretty expensive. The minimum plan that is worth checking out is $79 per month, but you may also need to whip out $3k per year with an annual commitment. Depends on what you need.
Qwilr is suitable for a whole range of businesses of different types and sizes. Including freelancers, but due to pricing, it’s likely that freelancers aren’t paying their fees. They don’t have a whole lot of integrations though, which may be disappointing for companies who are using some CRMs or software they’d like to integrate the solution with. And if you’re paying the top dollar, it’s likely you’re automating other parts of the business as well, and hence want these integrations.
To conclude, Qwilr has a solid solution for proposals. They have around 50 templates, they look decent, and the features they bring seem to be sufficient for most companies. However, the pricing is a bit of an issue unless you’re already making a good profit.
Something to be cautious about? There are quite a few reviews which say that they’re buggy. Maybe that’s all a history by now, and they’ve fixed the errors, etc. Still, something to be mindful of.
Wonder what “Nusii” stands for. Maybe it means “proposal app” in Latin. Either way, it’s one of the solution in the market worth checking out. Their cheapest price starts at $29/month, which is kind of ok. If you want some integrations and personalization, you have to check more expensive plans though.
Their proposal designs are kind of boring and old-looking for my taste. But you can’t argue over taste, so check it out yourself and don’t rely on my opinion. If I had to choose, I probably wouldn’t choose Nusii. Not after checking the online reviews.
Most common complaints are about lack of new features, slow support, buggy, and poor templates. And by the way, I don’t think it’s an issue that they only have like 8 templates. 8 templates, if these are good templates, can be better than 150 templates. I don’t want to spend 3 hours choosing a template. I want to use a proposal app to prepare a good looking proposal, fast.
They have Zapier integration, but not much else. I think if they’re targeting freelancers, then it makes no point to sweat about lack of integrations. If they’re targeting agencies and SMEs, then they’d need to work on adding integrations.
My final thoughts – I would probably keep looking.
Zomentum seems to be a pretty good option if you’re dealing with managed services. It’s specifically made for companies who is defined as a managed service provider. If you don’t know what it means, then you’re probably not one. But just in case, you can google it.
Zomentum isn’t exactly a proposal app. Drafting and sending proposals is one of the features it has, but it also comes with a $99 per month price tag.
They do have a solid drag-and-drop proposal builder, templates, and adding videos, etc. So the proposal features are pretty solid, but it’s not their core focus.
Zomentum recently raised funding, so it’s likely we’ll be hearing more of them in the near future. In case you’re a MSP, and looking for a whole sales platform, then you should check out Zomentum.
Proposify is one of the most popular options on the market. They’ve got decent designs, nothing spectacular, but they’re good and user friendly. I tried it, used it for a couple of weeks, and it can do the work for you. From the pricing point of view, you can start at $30 per month, but it will get you the minimum.
If you want the unbranded version, or add payment methods or any other integration, you’ll need to switch to the $100 per month plan. For a freelancer, that’s a bit too much, but for agencies and SMEs, it’s probably just fine. For me and my six-figure consulting company, paying $100 per month is a bit much UNLESS I feel it’s something that is improving my life considerably.
In my opinion, Proposify is not a proposal app for a freelancer or an IT consultant or a copywriter. It’s not for people that want to make the sending of a proposal faster and easier process. I am not saying you can’t use that if you’re an IT consultant. Because you can. I am saying that you won’t be able to reap all the benefits because you’re not going to want to spend X amount of time designing the proposal.
They do have templates that you can use as they are. But one of the top features is their editor. It enables you to design the whole thing and every part of the proposal. I am not the type of person who wants to do that. I want to put together a good looking proposal to get paid. But for designers? I think that’s the right tool.
And as far as the templates go, they have a bit under 100 of them. As mentioned before, I am not a type of users who wants to have gazillion templates, but rather a few great ones, so I don’t get excited by the sheer number of templates any proposal app has. But it’s important to many users, so it’s a plus.
As for integrations, Proposify has a sufficient amount of them. You can connect to Salesforce for example. Salesforce is for bigger companies of course, and it’s likely not the tool you as a one-man company would use, but still, it’s one of the most popular CRMs/ sales platforms in the world. They have payment integrations. So overall, they do a good job on that end.
To wrap it up, I would say that Proposify is one of the top choices you can make. Especially, if you’re a designer and the price point is fine for you. Most complaints about Proposify seem to be about the buggy editor and not sufficient mobile support. For tech companies, usually, it’s a matter of time when these are fixed.
Venngage doesn’t advertise itself as a proposal app. Their core function is to create infographics and presentations. But of course, proposals are presentations. So they do qualify as a proposal app if you’re looking to create and send out good looking proposals.
And I would give them just that – you can create pretty awesome looking proposals with Venngage. But you will lack other features and automation which in my opinion is crucial for a good proposal app.
For example, invoice generation, payment integration, personalization, reminders, etc. And they’re lacking simply because sending out proposals isn’t the core purpose of Venngage.
The cost of Venngage is $49 per month. There is a freemium as well with limited functionality, and a $19 plan for individuals.
Let’s move on to a giant in the industry.
PandaDoc has many features. I think the main feature at the beginning was online contracts and electronic signatures. This is what they’re best known for. And they’ve expanded to proposals and to a more complete platform to manage the sales process.
They’ve got different designs and templates, but nothing to be amazed about. That said, as long as their proposals convert, it’s the most important thing.
The upside is that they have iOS and Android apps. They also have integrations with several CRMs and have a content library and templates to use. You will also get notifications if the clients open the proposal. Everything is editable and you can easily add a contract to the proposal, and get it signed.
The pricing? $19 per month per user. Not too bad I would say.
The thing I wasn’t happy about was the complexity. Or my inability to use the software. Either way, I did not stick to it. It has great features, but I think it’s mostly for bigger companies, as there are different moving parts you can touch and edit. As a dumb user, I just want to do as little as possible for the maximum result.
But to conclude, PandaDoc is one of the giants of the industry, and a decent choice to make.
I like Bidsketch. They’re expensive, and not for me, but I like them because they’ve worked quite a lot on the copy of their templates.
And while the offer you put together is by far the most important part of converting a client, the copy is important as well. Good copy can do wonders. It can’t save a poor offer, but it can make a mediocre offer to convert better.
They say their research is based on 25 000 proposals worth over $270m, but I don’t buy that. It’s likely a marketing jargon. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a great job.
I am not too big of a fan of their templates. Nothing wrong, but no “wow” effect either. But it is simple and clean, and that’s often the best approach.
Other features that Bidsketch proposal app has are stats, reusable content, professional designs, payment integrations.
But at the end of the day, a $149 monthly price tag is just a bit too much for solopreneurs and freelancers.
I honestly don’t know who this proposal app is meant for. It seems like it’s suitable for companies operating in 90s. I don’t know about the features, it might be super handy to use..but the look of the website, and designs.. it seems to be a legacy software.
They do have a few features that are useful. For example, margins on proposals. I definitely don’t know how much profit I am making per proposal most of the time. And you can create price catalogues, comparison-based proposals, and stuff like that.
The cost is $474 flat fee. Taking into account the lack of design and feel, it’s definitely not what I am after.
I like proposable. Definitely one of my top picks of all the proposal apps I’ve listed here. They’ve got nice integrations, including Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Zapier.
Designs are pretty good as well, but still very traditional looking. Maybe it’s just my thing, but I want something new and different when it comes to design. And simple. Still, the templates aren’t bad. The mobile support could be better as there are some issues with layouts.
The core features include eSignatures, tracking, sales content library, drag&drop builder, and approval controls.
When it comes to pricing, you’ll need to pay $39 per user per month, but it’s a limited plan. If you really want to get all out of it, it’s $500 per month.
Conclusion on tried & tested proposal apps
That’s it – these were the 9 proposal apps I checked out. I didn’t try them all, but most of them. The Right-Proposal homepage made me run and not turn back. Hence, I could not test it.
It’s clear that there are some pretty solid solutions on the market. However, the price of the proposal apps tends to be on the high side, especially if we’re looking into proposal apps for freelancers and one-man companies. They’re either expensive or have no features and don’t look and feel good.
This is the reason why we’re building SendQu. To have all the best features and ease of use at below $20 price range. Sign up to our waitlist, as we’re launching soon!