7 Tips For Choosing The Right Quoting Software
Choosing the right quoting software or proposal solution for your business can be an arduous and confusing process.
Several solutions exist under the varied labels of quoting software, “proposal software”, “estimating software”, etc.; some run on Windows, others on Mac, and some are web-based. Many offer overlapping features, although there are some significant differences that make each better-suited to certain types of businesses.
Determining the best solution for your business can involve several important considerations.
1. Choose web-based software for ultimate flexibility.
While desktop apps have merits, an online product is ideal for quotation management. A web-based solution provides the benefits of reduced maintenance (since there is no software to install or update), security and peace of mind (with no need to worry about backups), and accessibility from anywhere, anytime. Support is managed by the vendor, and set-up time is virtually instant.
2. Choose the right flavour for your business or industry.
If creating sales quotes or proposals has caused you to pull out your hair from the monotony of grinding through Excel price sheets or tweaking documents to send to clients, an automated quoting software solution is for you. Examples in this category might include IT companies, software vendors, or service providers. Socket's quoting software eases the daily routine of pumping out quote after quote through automation. Socket automates quote calculation and PDF generation, emails your quotes to customers, accepts payments online, and integrates with your website and CRM.
For companies such as web design or software development shops where quote or proposal documents differ significantly between projects, a more manual solution is appropriate. "Proposal software" allows each response to be uniquely tailored to the project you're bidding on. This is great for businesses that involve a significant level of human decision. Two solutions worth checking out in this space are Quote Robot and TinderBox.
Manufacturers or engineering firms that need a tight integration with an ERP system for funneling data into build-to-order processes might look toward a "configure-price-quote" (i.e. CPQ) solution. Software from companies such as Big Machines is appropriate for such a need.
3. Consider a solution that integrates with your CRM software or other marketing apps.
By tying in with your existing client management system you can derive extra value from the data that prospective customers provide when they request a quote. For example, you could build a customer profile based on a history of inquiries, and direct follow-up marketing to people who have requested quotes in the past.
4. Consider a solution that allows you to accept payments online.
Producing a quote is a crucial first step, but one that ultimately doesn't pay off until it turns into a sale. By integrating a payment process into the customer experience, you will significantly increase the value of the quoting solution by allowing the customer to buy right away.
5. Ensure the solution supports your currency.
Every quoting package supports U.S. dollars, but what about other currencies? If you do business internationally, it's crucial that your system be able to as well. Look for a product that allows for configurable currencies, or at least provides a selection that includes those in which you do business.
6. Make sure that the software is flexible enough to support your pricing requirements.
Depending on your business, the structure of a typical quote or proposal might range between straightforward and complex. A good system will provide the flexibility to accommodate the various scenarios you may need to offer your customers, such as percentage-based and volume-based pricing.
7. Look for a free trial and month-to-month billing with no commitments.
A vendor who offers a test-drive for their quoting software demonstrates a confidence behind it and a willingness to let their customer judge it on its merits. That's usually a good sign that the product is worth investigating, and can be trusted to run your business. Furthermore, by subscribing on a monthly basis, you know that your provider will be regularly concerned about keeping you running smoothly. And without a lengthy contract to tie you down, you can rest assured that the vendor has faith in their product's ability to retain customers simply because its value outweighs its cost.
By doing your homework and taking a few apps for a test drive, you can find the right quoting, estimating, proposal, or CPQ software for your business. There are plenty of resources to help get you started in your search, including directories such as GetApp, Capterra, or even The Big G.