What Is A Proposal Software?

If you have ever been a part of a sales team, chances are you have created proposals. In fact you might have spent hours and hours drafting proposals for clients, emailing and calling different departments to get the right description, specification and price of the product you are trying to sell.

When you create one and send this to a customer, you spend hours and hours again, negotiating, describing, editing, and resending the proposal to the customer over and over again until you reach a place where you and your customer like the proposal and are ready to sign on it.

Signing is another set of repetitions, take a printout sign, stamp it, send it over courier to your customer, wait a week and then the customer signs it, stamps it and sends it back to you again.

What if, there was a better way to build, send, and share proposals.

What if you knew if your customer saw your proposal right after sending the proposal to her.

What if, you could answer all client queries about your proposal in real time within the proposal document itself.

What if there was a better way to send proposals.

What is a proposal software?

A proposal software is a system which allows you to build proposals and quotes for your customer.

While a good proposal software would not only allow you to build and edit your proposals but would also help you to send it to your customers, take suggestions, make edits and allow E-signature of the same with minimal effort. (To analyze more about the factors to consider before investing in a proposal software, read our detailed blog here)

Having said that most proposal software is standalone, though some do allow you to integrate with your email provider to track emails and eSign providers to get customer signatures, most of them require you to download a PDF that you can use for further processing.

What you need is a system that comes with a document editor, templates, email, collaboration and E-sign integrated into one. Luckily Zomentum has all that you need from a proposal software plus a CRM and automation that you and your team would love.

Though the name proposal software itself is quite obvious and doesn't require much of definition, it is officially defined as: A proposal software is a computer program that allows users to build and edit proposals or quotes in response to RFPs. This, or a version of this is, used as a definition for proposal software in most industries. We elaborate the topic defining a proposal software and ways to structure one, in our blog.

Before we can go deeper into what proposal software and what to look for in them. We need to understand what a proposal is and why is it so important that it gave rise to an entire industry?

What is a proposal?

If you are reading this chances are or have been a part of a sales team, that means you would understand if I said a typical sales process would look something like this.


A Typical Sales Process


Usually, "sending proposal and acceptance" cycle is where the majority of the sales time is spent on about 1/3 of the sales cycle is just sending proposals. Sometimes more in case of large negotiations that include large deals and niche customers.

Though simple, this defines the core of a proposal document i.e. proposal document is a sales presentation or pitch cloaked in a visually pleasing format aimed at acquiring a new customer.

Like a sales pitch, a proposal document tries to built trust, create a relationship, solve a problem and gain revenue via a PDF file (in most cases) or a live webpage(in case of Zomentum) and like sales

  • customer would have questions and objections that need to be handled
  • Changes that he would require
  • Pricing that needs to be negotiated

All of which combined it to this one file.

This is why proposal documents have gained importance and an entire industry trying to solve the problem.

What should a proposal have(proposal structure)?

A simple google search would give you about 36,80,00,000 results talking about the proposal structure you should use.

Quite frankly sales as a profession is so old that more than a fair amount of research and trial & error has gone into how to's of every part of it. That includes the proposal or sales quotes too.

In this section we wanted to briefly elaborate the core structure that your proposal must have.

Following is the most basic things that your proposal should cover

  1. The problem/issue that your customer is facing
  2. The solution to this problem using you product or service
  3. Benefits of using your product or service
  4. Cost of using your product or service

That's it. And we also have a blog that defines the best sales proposal content which will help you understand the creation of one in real time.

A proposal doesn't need to have anything else. Some proposals are actually complete within the first 2 pages (1st page being the company logo and name) and do not need anything else but some can go on to have 10+ pages.

All of it comes down to how detailed you want to be in your proposal; actually how much detail would your prospect require to close the deal.

Essentially a good proposal would cover problems, solutions, benefits and costs in a single document.

We've discovered that most customers would have done their own research into the solution that they would want to solve a particular problem they are facing.

In most cases though the actual problem is underlying and isn't usually visible. The best way to tackle this would be to add as much detail as possible in explaining the problem and the associated solution.

Another area that you must take care of is the cost. Make sure that your customer understands what he/she is paying for, do add a description wherever possible.

Here is an example, that we have at Zomentum's proposal builder.

Zomentum's Proposal Builder

Why should you use a proposal software?

One of the major problems that sales people face specifically when it comes to creating a sales proposal or quote is that every customer is different and requires a specific approach to close the deal.

That means for every new customer that comes in, the salesperson would have to create a unique proposal specific to them, there might be some common elements but in most cases the proposal has to be rewritten every-time! There are exceptions to this rule of-course.

That is, a significant amount of time is spent on writing new proposals and modifying it in accordance with customer requirements.

This remains to be a pain because most sales teams still use a document editor like MS Word or Google docs to create their proposals, and we highlight the differences of creating proposals in these two applications in our blog here.

Most would keep a base draft ready and try to copy paste elements from this draft into the proposal they are making.

This is not only inefficient but in cases where time is of the essence, it can lead to errors and mismatches with the customer expectation. Ultimately leading to a drawn out conversation with customers about the proposal document and a hard hit on the trust that customer has on the sales person.

This bring us to the one of the main reasons why sales teams should use a proposal software,

Efficiency

Most proposal softwares like Zomentum, allow you to save templates of previous proposals and that of specific elements within their system.

This allows the salesperson making proposals to use elements from multiple proposals to build one unique for their customer; leading to faster turnaround time and better performance.

Another place (referring to the sales process chart above) where sales teams lose a lot of time causing delay to closures is where customers negotiate both on pricing and the terms of the proposal.

This delay is a direct result of the to & fro of the proposal document between the salesperson and the customer(usually a PDF or word document with edits tracked). This leads us to the second major reason why you should use a proposal software.

Faster closures

Proposal softwares not only allows sales teams to use pre-defined templates and saved elements to build proposals but also comes with live collaboration features. Allowing customers and salespeople to share, edit, make changes to an online document and get responses in real time.

There are a lot more reasons why you should use a proposal document and we have summarised the most of it in our post here.

To know more about the 6 ways to increase the close rate of your MSP sales proposals, read our blog.

What to look for in/how to choose a proposal software?

Consider your use-case

Before zeroing on a single proposal software, it is best to consider the complete scope of your business use-cases and what specific use cases for which you seek one. 

It helps you become more productive

MSPs commonly use proposal software that can easily churn proposals quickly and at scale. With the times getting more difficult economically, a good proposal can make or break your next deal. It would be best if you had a proposal software that accelerates your entire sales cycle, and ensures a clear explanation of all your offerings. 


It's agile and keeps everyone in the loop

Good proposal software can track every stage of your deal, providing you a notification at the first sign of a roadblock so that your sales reps can swoop in and save the deal. It needs to monitor every stage of an opportunity of advancement, be able to notify every stakeholder, actively. 


High customizability

Those hoping to win another customer and need to make a wonderfully planned proposition require a proposal software that fulfills the needs of their customers. Especially when it comes to IT offerings, a client is often provided with a plethora of choices and bundles that often need to be matched with their needs, business requirements, and budget. 


Allows Recurring and one-time implementation charges

Recurring and one-time services are two separate offerings that are often the case in an IT service offering. A good proposal software built with these requirements in mind and is intended to help MSPs effortlessly win more deals explicitly. 


Track metrics to see how many of your proposals win

Being able to follow significant measurements that help you make a call on which of your proposals work is an essential aspect of an MSP sales strategy. Likewise, a decent proposal software gives you the metrics to monitor sales and proposal performance to make the best decision. 


Flexibility in offerings

Your proposal software must offer you the flexibility to tailor every offering to meet the customer's individual needs. It's essential that it also allows the client to tweak requirements to meet their unique needs and avoids continuous back and forth in the long run.

We list 19 proven strategies to create your MSP sales proposals which will help you close deals faster.

Why don’t most proposals work?

These are the list of common causes that most often than not for the reason of your proposals not turning into revenue.


They are extensive

Proposals are meant to be a clearly illustrated and detailed explanation of your offerings and are not intended to astound your customers solely. Specific information and detailed pricing illustrations tied briefly in a neat proposal go a long way in making a sale as opposed to overwhelming the client into submission with a massive dump of technical jargon. 

Though no hard and fast rule stipulates the perfect length for a winning proposal, it helps to read our proposals and question if our prospects find value in going through the entirety of proposals. If we've created a monstrosity in hopes of not missing out on any information, there is no honor lost in trimming down useless information and refining the messaging. A winning formula is to ensure your clients scan and skim until they see the price and give their approval. Keep it short.

They don't validate your client's pain. 

It is crucial for the proposal in IT services to highlight their pain point and convince them of the value they derive out of availing your services. Especially in Outsourced IT, the decision-maker is often not so tech-savvy. It makes a business decision harder when your proposal does not give him a one-pointed message towards his pain and your solution to his problem. More often than not, proposals fail to reiterate the client's pain accurately. 


It is too jargony. 

It is not surprising to be consumed by the curse of knowledge. However, it helps to remember; the decision-maker is basing their choices on their perceived value of your offerings as opposed to your technical expertise. A proposal drafted with this forethought in mind will help you be mindful of the technical jargon that you tend to overuse and explain your offerings with a renewed clarity in the client's perception. A client is more often interested in the result and would rather you spare them the technicalities of how that is achieved. It helps to keep in mind that your proposal fails when it sells technical proficiency.

To read more about the reasons that doesn't let your proposals close, read our blog here.


Types of proposal strategies

Whenever you have landed an enticing opportunity, the only great barrier between your lead and revenue is most often than not, your proposal. When your sales reps are engaging your clients, you need a winning proposal with a battle-tested template that you know will bring in the $$$ for you. But battle-tested templates don't appear out of thin air. They are often tested through experimentation and iteration to finally help you explain the trifecta of your offering, value and brand without too much technical jargon. 

That said, here are a few fundamentals that help you create a proposal that strongly augments a winning sales strategy. It is best to keep in mind that your proposal is a reflection of your brand and the best tool at your disposal to help your customer clearly understand about your offering, utility and pricing. Especially while selling highly technical services and offerings, where lucidity is of extreme importance. 

  • Always write proposals that answer "Why is my business valuable to your business" This ensures you answer the proposal in a way that appeals to the bottom line of your clients' business. Ensure you use a proposal builder that allows you the ability to create and store proposal templates in a way that accelerates your sales-cycle. 
  • Create a master proposal template with placeholders where you can fill in additional information later on. 
  • Instead of sending multiple proposals at each stage of the customer lifecycle, use microsites as proposals to engage your prospects, get signatures and close deals in real-time.
  • Ensure professionalism by providing options to your customers to pick and choose a pricing plan that best fits their needs and ensure your proposal does not shove your services down their throats.

We also have a blog that defines The Types of Proposal Template, Strategies, And How To Choose The Best One.

With an app like Zomentum, you can easily use placeholders and customize your proposals using Merge Tags

Once you have nailed down the perfect proposal strategy, your reps can customize proposals specific to every opportunity, and start WINNING revenue, however, here are a few standard sales document templates for MSP services.

Here are some of the most commonly used proposal templates

MSP Sales Template 

This Sales Proposal Template is designed to help you deliver a high-quality proposal to organizational buyers. In it, you’ll find areas focused on communicating your identity, your value proposition, your pricing, and your terms.


SLA agreement for MSP

Service level agreement templates help you clearly outline the scope of support offered for our IT service offerings under clearly defined timelines.


Sales Assessment

A sales assessment template helps you evaluate the network health and convey the maintenance risk involved accurately. Assessment reports help you to make compelling upsell on additional services. Get a clear description of network health that enables you to convince your clients based on data about their network risks and the value they receive from your services.


Cloud Solution Proposal

You can save time and streamline your proposal process while selling cloud solutions with right bundles, pricing and quotes.


BCDR

Business Continuity and disaster recovery templates help you clearly sort out the applicability of your services and the scope of all the issues that you will cover. A frequently revisited BCDR helps you plan ahead for times of emergency. 


Quote

A quote includes all the pricing points and bundles of your service offering. A well-listed quote can help your client easily understand what you are selling and which offering clearly satisfies their requirement.

How to pick a proposal software that works for you?

A helpful proposal software allows you to create customized and on-brand proposals easily through smart collaboration tools. In the age of everyday workflows and software-saturation, picking a solution with a couple of more features will do very little to improve your day-to-day efficiency. A robust solution that has native integrations with CRMs, Marketing automation, vendors and distributor tools is bound to make your next sale that much quicker.

Having a rich template library, monitoring your document performance helps your sales reps address every client's concerns and questions. You can enable custom notifications, so you know when your client opens the document, how much time they spent reading, and when they sign. And you can also personalize your sales proposals using videos to add a touch.

Zomentum, as a solution, was built to help the MSPs accelerate their sales cycle, and we are with our customers across every step of your sales journey.

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