Making a sales proposal is a tightrope act.
You have to send the proposal to the prospect while the iron is hot, but not so quickly that it looks sloppy or impersonal.
A professional sales proposal sets you apart from your competition—showing that you put care and attention into every aspect of client management.
But creating a well-designed proposal isn’t effortless—you’re a salesperson, not a designer. It’s time-consuming, fussy, and hard to personalize at scale.
The right sales proposal software can help you escape this vicious cycle. The best proposal tools make it easy to create and manage proposals for your sales team, while also making it easier for your clients to accept them.
The problem: there are hundreds of proposal tools, each designed with different use cases and end users in mind.
To help you find the best fit for your needs, we’ve split the most popular proposal tools into nine categories.
How to choose the right sales proposal tool
The best sales proposal software for you depends on your business size, deal complexity, format preferences, and required feature set.
Here are a few things to remember when looking for sales proposal software.
1. Enterprise vs. SMBs
Match the complexity of your proposal tool to your business.
Selling to SMBs generally means shorter, more transactional sales cycles. The deal size is smaller, and the average sale cycle can close anywhere from two days to four months.
If this is you, look for sales proposal software that lets you make well-designed sales proposals with light to medium personalization in a few clicks. This will help you achieve consistency at scale and from rep to rep, so your sales team can start more sales conversations without being bottlenecked by how quickly they can crank out proposals.
On the other hand, enterprise sales have longer and more elaborate sales cycles. With deal sizes usually over $50,000 per annum, they naturally go on for nine months or more.
In this case, tools with technical features like request for proposal (RFP), CPQ/quoting, and personalization are more suitable. You’ll also want collaboration features if you frequently require input from sales engineers or other SMEs.
2. PDFs vs. dynamic documents
Static documents slow down the sales process by introducing a lot of unnecessary back and forth.
The only benefit of PDFs is that everyone is familiar with them. But it’s clunky to attach documents, make sure they get forwarded to the right people, make several rounds of edits and revisions, and re-send revised versions.
To create a more modern, buyer-focused experience, consider using a dynamically updating space like a digital sales room, where you can update your proposal on the fly without needing PDF revisions and document versions.
Not only will this impress your prospect, but it also gives them easier access to whatever info they need—because all your sales collateral is available in one place.
If you’re having difficulty choosing, opt for software that lets you do both. For example, Dock lets you create dynamic mutual action plans to push the deal forward and embed PDF proposals in a single customer workspace.
3. DIY vs. drag-and-drop vs. automated/static
Consider the amount of customizability you need from your proposal tool.
For example, software like PandaDoc lets you create fillable PDF proposals from pre-made templates, lessening the need for a designer.
If your goal is less about presentation and more about having an ordering portal, consider a tool like Dealhub. What it lacks in the customizability of its design, it makes up for in its ability to close complex deals.
4. Content management and sales enablement support
It’s easier to build great proposals from a pre-existing content library of product demo videos, webinars, buying guides/checklists, pitch decks, and case studies. Your sales reps can refer to or incorporate them in their proposals, helping them close more deals.
5. E-signatures and invoicing
Would you prefer to close deals and sign contracts directly from your proposal software? Or does a separate electronic signature app like DocuSign feel more comfortable?
Both are secure and convenient closing methods, so it all boils down to your preference. Based on your choice, look for software with the appropriate features.
Some proposal software tools also have in-built billing capabilities. You can directly send invoices or bills for advance payments to clients, and your clients can also clear it from the platform.
Types of sales proposal software
Sales proposal software is a broad category. To help you narrow your options, we’ve broken it down into nine unofficial categories we’ve come across in our research while building Dock.
Below, we’ll discuss each type and share our recommendations for the best proposal software.
1. Digital sales room and client portals
These tools create a single workspace for potential clients and current customers, complete with embedded content and collaboration tools that remove friction for your buyer.
They also have in-built analytics to provide insights across the sales process and guide your sales conversations.
Our recommendation: Dock
- Host all sales-related content for a prospect in one location
- Create mutual action plans that guide prospects through the buying cycle
- Turn pricing tables into signable proposals
- Track engagement to improve forecasting accuracy.
You can also use Dock’s sales proposal template to explain your product's unique value proposition and share pricing and packaging info with prospects.
📘 Related reading: Learn how to personalize sales at scale from our complete guide to digital sales rooms.
2. Build-and-close proposal tools
This category allows users to create proposals and get them signed in one platform.
They let you build proposals from scratch or choose from ready-to-use templates that can be customized for each client.
These tools enable fast and secure digital sharing, helping reps streamline their pitching processes and accelerate the sales cycle.
Popular choice: PandaDoc
PandaDoc has tons of features to help sales teams create, manage, and e-sign sales proposals with ease, including PDF document templates, real-time access to approvals and comments, and version tracking.
Additional features like built-in legally binding e-signatures and a drag-and-drop content library make it easier to create and send personalized sales proposals within minutes.
3. All-in-one client management tools
As the name suggests, all-in-one client management tools are meant for multi-purpose use—aimed at small businesses and freelancers. These tools are shallower on proposal functionality but allow you to squeeze more tools into a tight tech budget.
You can use an all-in-one software tool to perform multiple activities like sending invoices and booking appointments. Aside from proposals, expect a suite of related tools to manage related small business activities and enable team collaboration on one platform.
Popular choice: Honeybook
Honeybook lets you draft and send proposals and contracts, share invoices, and collect payments from one tool. While it won’t let you make incredibly sophisticated proposals, it gets the job done if you’re a freelancer.
4. Sales enablement tools
Sales enablement tools allow product marketing to provide sales teams with the knowledge and assets they need to close more deals. Therefore, they’re often used to host content you may use in a proposal.
Your product marketers can create an inventory of customer-facing content, buyer enablement content, and internal-facing sales enablement content to help salespeople move customers through the deal cycle.
Our recommendation: Dock
Yes, we are recommending our tool again, but for good reason: we think old-school sales enablement tools focus too much on knowledge management and internal content sharing.
Dock is more client-facing, allowing you to curate an internal content library and then easily share that content by sending a customer a trackable link or embedding the content within a workspace.
Dock also makes it easier for sales reps to find the content they’re looking for by organizing content into collections and boards.
5. Response management/RFP software
If your main sales channel is responding to requests for proposal (RFPs), you’ll want to use software specifically designed for that use case.
RFP response software helps you send proposals more quickly by allowing you to pull in answers from an internal knowledge base to meet client requirements to showcase your product or service in the best light.
Most software tools offer templates that also act as a checklist to ensure you’ve included everything necessary to get the client’s approval.
Popular choice: RFPIO
AI-enabled RFPIO allows sales reps to respond to opportunities and close more deals by creating their best content and delivering on expectations. It automates responses to RFPs, giving you more time to build relationships and personalize customer experiences.
The software also integrates with CRMs, vendor assessment tools, and sales enablement apps to eliminate bottlenecks.
6. CPQ tools
Sales teams selling customized or made-to-order products should opt for CPQ (Configure Price Quote) software when sending proposals.
Reps use the CPQ process when configuring products, determining their price, and producing a quote. With CPQ software, this whole process becomes simpler. It also reduces administrative tasks and ensures you're sending clients accurate quotes.
Popular choice: Dealhub
Dealhub CPQ generates professional price quotes and proposals within minutes. It's best for companies with large, complex deals, as it's pricier than most other options on our list.
Using its collaborative sales engagement platform, you can send clients custom quotes based on their needs in any branded format (PDF, Excel, Word). The software also provides real-time insights into clients’ engagement and level of interest, facilitating guided sailing.
7. Contract management software
This is the most straightforward category. You can use contract or proposal management software to create, organize, and archive traditional business proposals in real-time.
Implementing a proposal management solution makes the proposal process more streamlined and efficient. Reps can create templated proposals, share documents, and collaborate with clients and stakeholders, shortening the time to create and deliver customized proposals.
Popular choice: Conga
Conga’s proposal management software lets you build professional and uniform business proposals. Determine the scope, add custom timelines, and incorporate client-specific recommendations directly into the platform. It then lets you share the online sales proposals via email.
Conga also sends instant notifications whenever a prospective client opens the proposal, enabling you to follow up promptly and prevent back-and-forth communication.
Conga would also fit in the CPG category.
8. Template-based tools
If you’re looking for a lower-cost, more manual solution, templated design tools can be used as basic sales proposal makers.
They typically have drag-and-drop editors to help you create eye-catching and professional-looking proposals.
Expect tons of collaborative features, readymade templates for branding, color schemes, and fonts, and PDF support to streamline the proposal process.
The downside is they won’t typically connect to pre-existing content libraries or your CRM in any way.
Popular choice: Jotform PDF Editor
Jotform's PDF Editor offers customizable project proposal forms and templates. You can fill them in with key objectives, strategy, and budget information to set and clarify expectations.
All proposal submissions are automatically converted into PDFs so they are easy to print, pitch, and present. These aren't super sophisticated documents, so Jotform is best for freelancers and SMBs looking for a lean solution.
Jotform could also be considered a build-and-close tool, as their PDFs are fillable and signable.
9. Secure sharing and signing tools
If you’re building proposal documents in one platform and just need to get them signed in another, you may want to add an e-signing tool to your tech stack.\
These tools also typically allow you to send clickwrap agreements like signable NDAs or terms and conditions.
Our recommendation: Dropbox Sign (formerly HelloSign)
Dropbox Sign lets you send, sign, and track documents.
At Dock, we partnered with Dropbox Sign to build our Order Forms product, which allows you to generate secure, signable proposals directly from a Dock workspace.
Ditch the old-school sales proposal with Dock
Dock helps you evolve past outdated PDF proposals to create a smoother buying experience for your prospect.
Dock powers your sales proposals from many angles:
- Workspaces: Instead of making a proposal document that gets forgotten in your prospect’s inbox, give them a single link with all your key sales information embedded in one place—like contacts, pricing, next steps, case studies, and more.
- Content management: Rather than scrambling around with copy/pasting your last proposal, you can pull any content from your library into your Dock workspace. Or, if you do want to send proposals as PDFs, you can share them from your Dock content library to get full analytics on who’s accessing your proposal and when.
- Quotes and order forms: Dock lets you turn a pricing table into an instant order form directly from your workspace. Just add your deal terms, required signatures, and then share it with your clients for signature.
By ditching static proposals and using Dock workspaces instead, your reps can take charge of the conversation and close more deals.
Dock lets you create five workspaces or upload ten content assets for free, so try Dock for free today.