You’re finally making the step towards simplifying your workflow and choosing a business proposal software to streamline your sales and proposal creation.
In today's competitive business environment, any company that is not using the best proposal management software tools and proposal templates to automate its proposal workflow are at a disadvantage.
But when you sit down to look, you'll find that there are actually quite a few tools out there to help you with proposal creation. Not only that, but few of them have particularly defined features and that can make it quite difficult to see what they’re all about without diving fully into the program to figure that out.
Well, I completely understand your frustration (seriously, I've been there), and so I did the work for you. I researched the most popular business proposal software to help you choose the best one for you without having to test out all of this software yourself.
The best business proposal software
PandaDoc has undoubtedly established itself as a leader in the online proposal, esignature, and digital document management landscape — and for good reason.
First of all, they're one of the very few business proposal software companies that offer a free plan: you can get started with collecting esignatures on their platform for free.
PandaDoc's proposal creation software is slick and packed with features, making it popular with both marketing and sales teams.
PandaDoc provides you with a suite of best-in-class tools to help you create, deliver, and track proposals faster than ever before. With PandaDoc Proposal Automation, your sales team can easily send personalized proposals that are tailored to each prospect's specific needs at the click of a button.
What's more, PandaDoc's eSignature software ensures that your proposal documents are legally binding and can be signed electronically from anywhere in the world. And with real-time tracking and analytics, you can see exactly how each prospect is interacting with your proposals so you can make the best decisions about next steps.
How does PandaDoc compare?
- PandaDoc is highly flexible in functionality and adaptable to businesses of all sizes and industries.
- With a library of 700+ professional templates, there's a good chance you'll find a template suitable for your business.
- You can create a variety of proposal status options to help you keep track of the progress of each request.
- Proposal content library feature means you can save and re-use content.
- CRM software integrations.
- Excellent document collaboration capabilities.
- Full ability to visualize your proposal sales pipeline.
- Access to a 14-day free trial so you can test out the features for yourself.
- One of the largest collections of proposal templates of any proposal creation software
- All plans include the ability to send unlimited proposals, which means you don't need to monitor your usage or pay for anything more than the features that you need.
- PandaDoc has been a big player in the business proposal software space for years, so you'll find lots of great resources and tutorials online
- Robust partner network means that you'll be able to hire a someone to help you create professional proposals if you need assistance.
- Excellent option for sales managers, sales teams, and project managers.
- While the eSign plan is free, PandaDoc's plans can start to scale up in price quickly once you need access to more features. You'll need the business plan to access most of the features.
- There is a learning curve to using the PandaDoc proposal builder, you may find other proposal management software easier to pick up if you're a beginner
- The price point is a bit higher than some of the other options on this list.
Final thoughts on PandaDoc
You'll be hard-pressed to find another good proposal management software like PandaDoc. Whether you are a business or agency looking for marketing proposals or RFP software, PandaDoc is great for both proposal and contract management.
For most people and businesses, PandaDoc is a great business proposal software solution.
The best proposal software for small businesses
Surprise, surprise, the software that takes home the crown for the best proposal software for small businesses is the sales proposal tool with better in the name. As it turns out, that name is accurate — within the space that it occupies, Better Proposals is one of the best.
If you're looking for the easiest proposal software to get up and running with, look no further than Better Proposals. Their drag and drop interface makes it incredibly easy to put together a gorgeous and mobile-responsive winning proposal.
Better Proposals creates web-based proposals similar to a landing page. While that means that proposals aren't structured like traditional documents with individual pages, it does mean that proposals look good on every screen size.
This proposal design software offers some really helpful features to help with your workflow automation and land you new business. If you're just starting out with sending online proposals and your business doesn't need to use traditional document structures, Better Proposals is a great option.
How does Better Proposals compare?
- Very easy to use drag and drop proposal builder. If you can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you can use Better Proposals.
- Great selection of 200+ proposal templates.
- Proposals are created as if they're landing pages, meaning that proposals are fully mobile responsive.
- Automatic proposal generation that's based on the information you provide about your company and the project you're proposing.
- Robust set of CRM integrations.
- The proposal content library feature means you can save and re-use content.
Better Proposals pros:
- A wide range of templates to choose from so you can create a proposal that perfectly fits your brand.
- You can add video, audio, and other multimedia content to make your sales proposals more engaging.
- Proposal writing is easy thanks to a familiar and uncluttered user interface.
- Customizable proposal statuses to help you keep track of where each proposal is in the review process.
- The ability to send proposals directly to your clients' email inboxes.
- General ease of use means that you're less likely to run into human error when sending sales documents to prospective clients.
- Seriously, proposal creation in Better Proposals is really easy. If you're a solo act and want something that streamlines your proposal writing process, this is a great choice.
Better Proposals cons:
- Because Better Proposals proposals are formatted like web pages, PDF download is a bit wonky.
- Most of the cons come down to the format — if you're OK with website-like proposals, you'll love it. However, you're better off with PandaDoc if you want to send traditional documents with esign.
- The team plan price point is a bit higher than some of the other proposal software on this list.
Final thoughts on Better Proposals
If I were a running small business and starting out with online proposals for the first time, I would pick Better Proposals.
If you're looking for a proposal software that is easy to use, has a simple drag and drop interface, and offers a wide range of reporting features and integrations, Better Proposals is arguably the best option on the market.
With their software, you'll be able to create beautiful proposals that stand out from the competition and win you more business.
The best proposal software for freelancers
Freelancers have a few different proposal software needs than larger enterprises. They need to be able to create proposals quickly and easily, without a lot of bells and whistles. Prospero is purpose-built for small businesses and freelancers and offers an easy-to-use interface and pricing that doesn't break the bank.
Prospero is a great proposal software tool for freelancers because it is easy to use and helps you to send proposals quickly. The pricing is also very affordable, which is another plus. If you are looking for a simple, yet effective proposal software tool at a low cost, Prospero is a great option.
Prospero is very similar to Better Proposals in that they both create web-based proposals that are fully mobile responsive. I'd say that both solution providers overlap quite a bit when it comes to feature set — the primary difference is that while Better Proposals is geared towards small businesses, Prospero is geared more towards freelancers in both pricing and template selection.
How does Prospero compare?
- Easy to use drag and drop editor that helps you to build proposals with ease.
- On-rails proposal development process makes it easy to spin up new proposals. If you're new to creating proposals, Prospero will walk you through everything step-by-step.
- If you don't have an established sales process, Prospero's structure can help you stay on track.
- CRM software integrations.
- The content library feature enables you to store and reuse your content in the future.
- By far the least expensive option on this list — pricing plans start from just $10/mo.
- Great feature set for freelancers and small teams.
- Proposals are designed as if they're landing pages, which means that they're completely mobile responsive.
- Straightforward proposal development process. Prospero does a great job of guiding you through the entire experience.
- The proposal content library feature means you can save and re-use content.
- Limited selection of templates when compared to some of their competitors
- Smaller market share and adoption, meaning you may have trouble finding guides and resources online
- Rigid proposal creation process is great for people new to sales proposals, but could be frustrating if you're trying to adapt your existing sales process.
- The editor is not as flexible as some of the other options on this list. If you're looking for a lot of customization, Prospero might not be the best fit.
Final thoughts on Prospero
If you're a freelancer just starting out and looking to keep costs low, Prospero is a fantastic option. However, if you can justify the additional expense, Better Proposals offers a very similar experience but with a better template selection and more flexibility when it comes to spinning up your proposals.
With that said, Prospero is still a fantastic proposal software and you're getting a lot of bang for your buck here. If you're a freelancer sending out proposals for the first time, Prospero is for you.
The best all-in-one proposal software and customer relationship management tool for freelancers
Bonsai is the best all-in-one proposal software and customer relationship management tool for freelancers.
It's best suited for business proposals, proposal automation, and managing your client relationships.
Something to note is that Bonsai is an all-in-one contact management and proposal software that provides payment systems for freelancers.
As such, Bonsai is more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but you're getting a lot of functionality beyond a proposal builder.
The Bonsai Proposal Builder is a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to create beautiful proposals in minutes, without any design experience necessary.
How does Bonsai compare?
- Robust set of features if you're looking for an all-in-one software to run your freelance business.
- Clean and easy-to-use drag and drop proposal editor makes it easy to create proposals.
- Responsive proposals mean that your documents look great on every screen size.
- Send proposals and bill all from one central location.
- On the higher-tier paid plans, you get access to a client portal where clients can log in and access their documents.
- Bonsai is unique in that its template selection has great written copy to start out with. If creating the written content for your proposals is your biggest concern, that's really helpful.
- Great feature set and price point for freelancers looking for an all-in-one solution.
- You can essentially run your freelance business with Bonsai — from managing your clients, to spinning up quotes, to sending winning proposals.
- Since proposals are a feature of Bonsai, it's not as feature-rich as more specialized software.
- While the written copy of the proposal templates is solid, the overall design and visual presentation of the templates is underwhelming.
- Disappointing integrations selection. It's clear that they want you to keep everything within Bonsai.
Final thoughts on Bonsai
Let's get this out of the way: Bonsai is tailor-made for solo freelancers, so if you're a small business or a sales team, this software isn't for you.
However, if you're a freelancer looking to create professional documents and have a central HQ for your clients, quotes, and proposals, Bonsai is a compelling offer.
Choosing the best automated proposal generator for you
The automated proposal generator for you will depend on your needs and goals. If you're an established business or sales team, PandaDoc is feature-rich and flexible enough that it will adapt to your business processes and give you the document analytics needed to oversee your sales pipeline.
If you're a freelancer who is just starting out, Prospero may be the best option given it's low cost of entry. However, if you can justify spending more money to get better template selection, flexibility in creating proposals, or more features Better Proposals or Bonsai might be worth considering.
No matter which software you choose, using proposal management software as part of your sales workflow is a great way to speed up your proposal sending process, impress your clients, and ultimately win more business.
Frequently asked questions about proposal software
What is proposal management software?
Proposal management software (PMS) is a tool used to create, manage, send and track proposals. It can automate much of the proposal-making process and help you keep track of opportunities and submissions.
Why should I use proposal management software to automate my proposals?
If you’re selling a unique product or are trying to make a name in a competitive industry, you’ll want proposal software that gives you the ability to customize your proposals.
PandaDoc, Better Proposals, Prospero, and Bonsai all offer a pre-made template library. Starting with a well-designed proposal template makes sure that your important documents stand out and are well designed.
What are the benefits of using proposal software?
There are many benefits to using proposal software, including:
- Create proposals that look on-brand
- Online proposal software lets you instantly send your proposal electronically
- Improved efficiency and accuracy in proposal creation
- The ability to track and manage opportunities
- Increased visibility into the proposal process
- The ability to quickly send proposals
- Automated reminders and follow-up communications
- Centralized storage of proposal content
What does proposals software do?
Proposal software helps you to manage and automate your proposal sending process. They can improve accuracy, efficiency, and visibility in the proposal process as well as streamline communication and digital signature processes by electronically storing all document content. By using a proposal maker software, you can expedite your proposal creation process and increase your odds of sealing the deal.
What is proposal automation?
Proposal automation is using proposal software to automate part or all of the process of making a draft proposal and sending proposals to save your time and make you more efficient.
What is the best proposal software?
The best business proposal software for you depends on your industry and the size of your organization. If you're just starting out, Better Proposals is well priced and very easy to use. If you're a larger business with more complex needs, or need the ability to have clients esign traditional documents and PDFs, PandaDoc is made for you.
What is the best enterprise proposal software?
PandaDoc is best suited for enterprise proposals. It has the best chance of meeting your needs if you're a larger company with complex communication needs or want to allow clients to sign PDFs and traditional documents.
How can I write an online proposal?
Use one of the proposal tools outlined in this article, pick a proposal template, and fill in your content! Better Proposals, PandaDoc, and Prospero are all excellent proposal software. Check out my guide on how to send online proposals for a step-by-step walkthrough on how to write an online proposal.
What is the best free software for sending proposals?
PandaDoc allows you to upload documents and collect esignatures completely for free. While you will need to pay to upgrade to use PandaDoc's templates and other design features, if all you need is to capture esignatures on your documents, their free plan will suit you just fine.
Having a genuinely useful free tier among proposal software is rare, so I am impressed that they continue to offer that plan.
What's involved in the proposal creation process?
Creating a sales proposal generally involves the following steps:
- Gathering information about the potential customer and their needs
- Determining what you can offer that meets those needs
- Drafting a proposal that outlines your solution
- Sending the proposal to the customer and waiting for a response
- Following up with your client and answering any questions or concerns they may have.
Which proposal software is best for beginners?
It depends on if you are tech-savvy or if you need a little more help navigating new software.
If you find it easy to learn new software, PandaDoc will give you the most options. If ease of use is your top concern, Better Proposals is easier to pick up.