Are you tired of printing, signing, and scanning proposals? Are you wasting time trying to track who has the latest version of your proposal? If so, it's time to start using online proposal software.
Maybe you’re tired of paper cuts. Or waiting for Bart to fax you back his quote revisions. At any rate, you’re looking sideways at the dazzling world of digital proposals and wondering if you should take the leap.
I've written about the advantages of sending digital proposals and the disadvantages of traditional proposals, but, in short, sending online proposals is just plain better.
Online proposals make it easier for your clients to receive, read, and accept digital proposals, and they’re easier and faster for you to prepare and track. That means more business for you and less time spent cobbling together proposals.
With online proposal software, you can create and send proposals online in a fraction of the time. You can also rest assured that all stakeholders will have access to the latest version of your proposal at all times.
In this blog post, we will discuss how online proposal software can help you streamline your business processes and improve communication with clients.
Let's jump in to how you can use proposal builder software to send online proposals!
Which online proposal software should I use?
A common question I get asked upfront is what is the best proposal software. There are many online proposal software programs on the market, and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.
For most people, I recommend Better Proposals since it has a great price point, robust feature set, and an excellent (and growing) set of proposal templates. Alternatively, if you already have PDFs and just need to collect eSignatures, PandaDoc is another solid option.
I'll be writing this article as if you're just starting out with Better Proposals, but the good news is that most proposal builders work the same, so you can follow the same steps outlined below no matter which software you choose.
Getting set up to send online proposals
Here’s the good news: getting set up with most proposal building software is quick and easy. Better Proposals, Prospero, PandaDoc, Proposify and others all have easy onboarding experiences and virtually all of them offer a free trial.
By signing up for a free trial, you will immediately have access to all the ins and outs the software has to offer. Once you answer some simple get-to-know-you questions, they’ll take you through a quick onboarding to show you the ropes of creating and sending a proposal.
Choose a proposal template as a starting point
Okay, so you’ve signed up for a Better Proposals trial and you’ve gotten familiar with the proposal building tools, but what about the proposal itself? Well, you could create a proposal from scratch, but the far more efficient way is to choose a mostly-done template you can use as a starting point.
Most online proposal builders come with a library of templates to choose from, and Better Proposals is no exception. You can either select one of their pre-made templates or you can choose to start from a blank page. If you want to see what Better Proposals’ templates look like, they have an online gallery where you can browse their selection.
Remember that choosing a proposal template is more than just picking a design that you find attractive. You should also consider how the structure of the template fits your company’s needs. For example, a proposal template for an attorney will have vastly different than one geared towards photographers.
But a template is only that: a template. Once you’ve made a choice, you’ll want to customize it with your own content and branding. Not sure about what that involves? Let’s go over the basics.
Customizing your proposal template
When you select a proposal template, be sure to customize it with your own content and branding so that it's unique to your business.
If you’re having difficulty knowing your vision, it can help to identify your target audience first, so you know what audience you’re trying to reach. With these important steps, your business will have a stronger identity, your proposal will be stronger, and you’ll stand out from the crowd of competitors.
Written proposal content
The most important thing in your proposal is your written content. In all likelihood, some of your written content will change on a case-by-case basis, but you likely also have content that stays the same from proposal to proposal.
At any rate, when creating your proposal copy, remember that shorter is sweeter. Proposals are both sales documents and marketing presentations, so be sure to cut out any fluff.
Better Proposals regularly publishes the results of their proposal research in their proposal reports, and the data shows that the ideal proposal length is less than 7 sections. If you're plonking 10,000+ words into your prospect’s inbox, you're making a fatal proposal mistake.
It's helpful to have the core of your proposal copy finalized before you choose a template. This will help you choose a template that best fits your needs.
If you have a long terms and conditions contract, case studies instead of testimonials, or an industry-specific section, you’ll want to find a template that has them prebuilt for you. Once you have chosen a template, you can add your own words to the other sections.
In most cases, you’ll find that your template includes stock photos. You can stick with the default photos supplied, you can choose new stock photos, or you can upload your own photos.
When you’re putting together your sales proposal, it’s important to choose high-quality photos that will help you stand out from the competition. Remember that not all stock photos are created equal.
Here are a few tips for selecting good photos for your proposal:
#1: Choose photos that are relevant to your business. If you’re a landscaping company, don’t use photos of the cityscape.
It can be tempting to choose photos that are visually stunning but have nothing to do with what you actually do. However, these types of photos will only serve as a distraction from the proposal itself.
#2: Choose photos that help tell your story and support your written content. If you can’t find the right photo, it’s better to leave that section blank than to use a random image.
When in doubt, choose simplicity. A busy photo will only serve as a distraction from your proposal content.
#3: Choose photos with muted colors or black and white photos for a more professional look.
Remember, the photos you choose should help support your proposal content, not take away from it.
Formatting and design
Once you have your template customized with your own branding and content, it’s time to format and design your proposal.
When formatting your proposal, be sure to use clear and easy-to-read fonts. You want your proposal to be easy to skim so that busy prospects can quickly get an idea of what you’re offering.
It’s also important to use headers and subheaders to break up your content. This will help your prospect find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily.
How to create and send a proposal with online proposal software
With your perfect proposal template completed with your business’s branding and written content, the next step is to start using it.
With all of Better Proposal's built-in features, you’ll be able to ensure your proposals are simple for your clients to accept. You can create new proposal documents, send, track, and have your clients design your proposals all in one place.
Sending your online proposals to clients is just as simple as sending an email. You can send to multiple recipients, copy in team members, and set up automatic thank you and reminder emails for your clients.
And once your proposal is sent, all the information and analytics for your proposal will be available for you to review. You’ll have information on when a client views the proposal, how many times they read it, and how long they spend on each section.
The benefits of using online proposal software
Still not convinced? Trust me, when it comes to creating and sending proposals, there’s no better way to do it than with online proposal software.
Here are just a few of the benefits of using online proposal software:
- You can create, send, and track proposals all in one place.
- Once you have your templates set up, spinning up new proposals takes minutes, not hours.
- Online proposal software is easy to use and doesn’t require design experience. If you can handle Google Docs, you can handle Better Proposals.
- All of your proposal analytics are in one place, so you can keep tabs on your sales analytics and uncover why people are accepting or rejecting your sales proposals.
If you’re looking for online proposal software that is easy to use and comes with all the features you need to streamline your sales process, look no further than Better Proposals. It's earned my recommendation as the best proposal software, and it's a great proposal tool to use if you're sending online proposals for the first time.
Now that you know a little more about getting started with online proposal software, it's time to choose the right one for your business and ditch those paper proposals for good!
Familiarize yourself with the software you chose and choose a proposal template that has most of the content you need to get started. Customize it with your branding, written copy, and photos, then format your content so that it's easy to use.
Finally, start creating proposals! By starting from a template, you'll save heaps of time since you'll only need to customize the template for the specific client you're pitching to. Most proposal softwares give you analytics and insights into when your clients are looking at your proposal so you know when to follow up.
Before you know it, you'll be an online proposal pro, and sealing the deal in no time.