Allow us to state the obvious: Every minute your sales professionals spend doing something other than selling is…time they're not selling. So why let them spend countless hours in Microsoft Word and Outlook creating and sending quotes and proposals when you can automate that repetitive time-sink?
Streamlining the process lets your sales teams return to prospecting faster, and it also gets quotes to potential customers more quickly—which leads to more closed deals. That's where proposal-generation tools can help. They can cut down the time it takes to manually create a quote—typically 2 to 4 hours—to a fraction of that.
Automated quote and proposal tools deliver other benefits, as well. They give proposals a consistent look, feel and pricing strategy—to customers, different prices on different proposals at different times makes it look like you're making things up as you go along. These tools also minimize the training required for new hires, getting them up and running faster. Plus, integration with your existing software platforms seamlessly transitions data from the proposal into your CRM or accounting package.
Larger businesses have dedicated platforms at their disposal, such as EndeavorCPQ or Paperless Proposal. But these 10 tools show there's no shortage of options for small businesses that want to improve the process and get salespeople selling, not quoting.
Automated Quote & Proposal Tools
1. Quosal Sell
This platform lets your sales staff generate professional, accurate and timely quotes and proposals from any browser-equipped device: PC, smartphone or tablet. The template-driven quote generator produces fully branded, visually appealing proposals, and the platform's tracking engine lets you know when the prospect has opened the quote so you can follow up in a timely manner before the lead goes cold.
Quosal Sell lets you track proposal deliveries and when your clients view them.
"Gamification" techniques provide a constant stream of micro-rewards to salespeople to continuously recognize their efforts, and a console for managers delivers powerful insights into each rep's success rate and the business' current flow of quotes and proposals. And Quosal Sell supports integration with most leading CRM systems.
This all-in-one solution makes it much easier and faster for sales teams to deliver high-quality, personalized sales proposals. PandaDoc delivers complete document automation to manage quotes, proposals, contracts and other pertinent collateral. All your marketing content—presentations, client testimonials, white papers and case studies—are a click away when building quotes and proposals.
Once you send your proposas, your sales team can analyze the recipients' real-time activity in the document, seeing exactly how long they spend in each section. This can help you identify confusing or troublesome areas and improve them in subsequent quotes.
PandaDoc's Content Snippets let you pull pertinent content from your library into the proposals.
Your salesperson can also collaborate electronically with recipients to address issues or concerns, and they can even edit and sign the documents using legally binding electronic signatures. PandaDoc offers integration with leading CRM and other applications, and a mobile client means PanadaDoc can travel with your sales team on the road.
This dedicated quote/proposal tool aims to move your salespeople out of Word and Excel. It works with software you likely already use to store customer information, including ACT, ConnectWise, GoldMine, Google Contacts, Outlook, QuickBooks, Sage 50/Peachtree Accounting), Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and others, which eliminates the need to re-type customer information.
QuoteWerks also lets you import your product information and link to external databases (such as a product database), Excel spreadsheets, or text files to pull together the information you need in the quote. Don't have an existing CRM or contact management package? No problem: QuoteWerks delivers its own built-in contact database.
After you send a proposal in QuoteWerks, an add-on product called QuoteValet creates a personalized Web page to present the quote. It then lets you know when your customer views it and how often they review it. QuoteValet also supports electronic signatures, so no more faxing or mailing documents back and forth.
This RFP (request for proposal) management tool turns a manual, time-consuming chore into an automated process to handle RFPs quickly. The secret: it doesn't re-invent the wheel with each new RFP. Instead, Loopio lets you centralize content and stop hunting through past proposals to find data for the next one.
Loopio lets your team create customized RFPs quickly, and the mobile app lets them bring it on the road.
A searchable and easy-to-maintain library lets your team centralize all of your RFP responses, and the platform's collaboration tools let salespeople collaborate with experts across your organization to get the information they need to complete the RFP. Managers can assign particular questions and entire section content to your team members so they can simultaneously develop the responses to the RFP—and nudge collaborators when they are running late. There's even a Magic feature (the platform's automation engine) to populate your RFP with the best answers from your Loopio library.
By taking a knowledgebase approach, RFP365 also aims to help you respond to RFPs quickly and easily. Its search engine lets you find and reuse relevant past responses, so you can start with a standard response and then modify it for your client's particular situation. The solution's collaboration tools ensure that every stakeholder in the process works from the same version, and the revision history lets you see who made what changes.
Real-time visibility into the progress of various assigned tasks means you can check completion by resource anytime—no time-wasting "status update" meetings needed. Email notifications and reminders keep your team focused and moving forward, and the analysis tools let you see who worked on each proposal and how much time they spent.
This suite of sales-enablement tools coverers sales analytics, customizable sales presentations and personalized sales proposals. Its Web-based Qvidian Proposal Automation service aims to help you create persuasive sales proposals in a fraction of the time. Qvidian draws on the sales person's strength—knowledge of the client—and helps automate the part of proposal creation they may not excel at, such as writing skills and formatting.
Qvidian Proposal Automation handles the content and formatting of proposals, which lets your salespeople concentrate on customizing and personalizing the quote for each client.
The Qvidian platform ensures that every proposal your team delivers addresses the customers' business problems or needs, recommends a solution to meet those needs, and provides evidence that you can do the job on time and on budget. The solution also helps you maintain consistency in your proposals and ensures that every document that goes out the door contains accurate, approved content.
7. Sprint CPQ
Does your business use Salesforce? Sprint CPQ (configure, price, quote) lets your team generate highly detailed, customized, error-free sales quotes using the already-familiar Salesforce platform. The solution automates best practices when it comes to creating quotes and proposals, replacing spreadsheet-based manual quoting and reducing the time required to construct deals, generate quotes and secure approvals.
It can help eliminate deal erosion caused by rogue discounting and, at the same time, optimize revenue potential by defining the most effective bundling, cross-sell and upsell opportunities at the time of quote. Your organization can get started immediately by importing all your product and pricing data and formulas from Excel using the Apttus X-Author tool.
This single, integrated "sales engagement platform" improves customer communications across phone, email and face-to-face interactions. The ClearSlide platform provides real-time visibility and analytics for both sellers and sales managers with an all-in-one suite of products.
The content management portion centralizes all your approved collateral, so salespeople aren't hunting for the latest documents. The platform will let you understand when and how your customers interact with the proposals and other content you send them via email, and the analytics engine lets you see activity reported by company, team, salesperson or customer.
This Web tool focuses on tracking sales proposals. Tilkee hosts your pertinent files on its site (you can upload Office docs and PDFs, as well as image files and even audio and video files), and you send an email with the secured link to your prospect so they can access your proposal.
Once your prospect opens your "Tilk" (as the company calls it), you receive an automatic email with the related reading stats: total reading time, number of connections, IP address, pages viewed, time spent on each file, documents downloaded and more. The platform supports electronic PDF signatures and integrates with SalesForce and other CRM platforms.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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