Jaimi Koechel, Henry+Horne
I had a system when it came to putting together proposals. This included templates and standard verbiage, which was organized in various folders on our firm’s hard drive. I always knew where to find the paragraph about the professionals’ continuing education requirements or the blurb on the firm’s independence. The problem was that nobody else could easily find this information if I was unavailable. Although I was fine with the old system, in 2015, I realized it was time to find another solution to my proposal content madness – one that would benefit everyone. I soon began to research proposal software, and in my search, I compared all the features against what we actually needed and, of course, noted the investment needed to launch an online content storage system.
From the various software programs I reviewed, I chose to go with Proposify since I felt it met most of my needs. Consider the following when looking for a proposal software program:
- User Access – Who is going to need access to the proposal software? Does the company charge per user, or are there unlimited users that can access the software? For me, I just needed the three marketing professionals in the firm to have access to the software and make edits under their own accounts.
- Visuals – Does your proposal have many graphics or is it text only? We previously used InDesign for all of our templates, so I knew I needed a graphics-friendly software program that could handle a lot of images. Proposify is like a combination of InDesign and Word, so I felt it fit my design needs.
- Statistics – What do you want the software to measure? I was looking for a program that can measure our wins and losses, so I could get rid of my complex tracking spreadsheet in Excel.
- Distribution – Do you want to be able to distribute proposals electronically? All of our proposals (except those for the governmental industry) are submitted via email; this way we can see where the prospect spends the most time. Is it the fees? Do they review our expertise? We found that fees were not the first section our prospects were visiting, unlike what everyone assumed. The first section most of our prospects visit is our experience and then the professionals’ biographies. After that, the prospect views the fee section.
- Templates – Are you limited on the amount of templates you can have? I have found that I am not limited with Proposify. I currently have nine templates in my library to choose from. These templates were created based on the niche or service area we are proposing on. Another thing to consider: how easy is it to create templates? Is it easy for you or your team use the software? Does the software company provide support or training?
- Content Library – How does the content library work? Is it searchable and easy to find what you are looking for? Proposify has a content library that stores content by section, fees, snippets (or paragraphs), and images. It is easy to find what you are looking for and drop content into the appropriate section of the proposal. This has definitely saved my team a lot of time from having to look back at my unorganized Word Document filing system that I previously used to store content.
In my experience, there wasn’t a single software that checked everything off my wish list. Therefore, when searching for your proposal software, it is important to prioritize what is most valuable to you and make sure the software meets those needs. I have found two downfalls when using Proposify:
- Statistics – Proposify did not meet my needs with the tracking of the wins and losses, so I still use Excel for this. I like to break down our wins and losses by for profit, non-profit, and government proposals, and, unfortunately, Proposify does not have this functionality.
- Fee Tables – If you have a fee range, you cannot use the available fee tables, as it will not calculate the total correctly. You will have to use a regular table to build your fees, but the fees for that proposal will not be calculated in your overall win/loss statistics.
I did inform Proposify of the downfalls I found, and they let me know that they are looking into improving their software and hope to incorporate these changes soon. Even though Proposify has a couple negatives for me, I would still recommend you check out their program. There are many positives to this software that I feel outweigh the negatives that I listed. Make sure the software that you choose meets your needs and checks most boxes off your wish list