If your company is still signing proposals by putting pen to paper, you’re wasting your sales team’s and your clients’ time and resources.
When you add an electronic signature to your proposal, you get a legally binding contract that can be signed by both parties in a flash. Like, in minutes, not hours or days.
Plus, electronic signatures provide an audit trail showing who signed and when. No fax machine, scanner, filing cabinet, or photographic memory necessary.
But should you pick a standalone tool, like Docusign, or an integrated solution with proposal software that includes electronic signatures, like Proposify? That depends on your sales team’s needs and this post is designed to help you figure out which option is the best electronic signature option for your proposals.
Why use electronic signatures?
First up, if you’re not already using an electronic signature tool for proposal sign-off, there are five main benefits you need to know. They all work together to make electronic signatures the only way modern sales teams close deals.
(Psst—if you already use electronic signatures or are sold on making the switch to them, you can jump to the software comparison by clicking here.)
1. Electronic signatures make sign-off fast
When we dug into the metrics for the millions of proposals in the Proposify database, we found that proposals with electronic signatures were 3.4 times more likely to close. And these proposals closed nearly a third faster than those without electronic signatures.
2. Electronic signatures provide a trusty paperless paper-trail
In the U.S., it is mandatory to retain records of any electronic transaction, in case you need to reproduce any of those documents for reference. It doesn’t have to be stored on paper, though.
When you sign digitally, a copy of your transaction is stored by the hosting site and can be referenced as needed. Having a digital ‘paper’ trail also allows you to keep your documents accessible but still safe and makes it easier to find and track each document.
3. Electronic signatures help the environment
Storing paper documents not only takes up space but printing out each and every proposal or document is bad for the environment.
Consider these printing stats:
- It takes 13 litres of water to make a standard sheet of printer paper. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets per year.
- Since an average printer cartridge is 70 percent plastic, it takes approximately three to four litres of crude oil, a non-renewable resource, to produce one laser cartridge and up to 100 millilitres of crude oil to produce one ink cartridge.
4. Electronic signatures are secure
Electronic signatures are just as safe and binding as a traditional pen-and-paper sign-off—maybe even more so.
For example, Proposify’s electronic signatures are legally binding, compliant with strict e-signature laws from around the globe. Security protocols keep all sensitive information protected with bank-grade encryption and daily, off-site backups. And, users can track when, where, and by whom each of their proposals were signed for added peace of mind.
5. Electronic signatures save time, money, and effort
By using online signatures, you can save up to $20 per document when you integrate digital signatures across various departments and processes. The ROI can be significant, and your company can start to see it almost immediately.
Online signatures also require less time and effort on both sides of the transaction. Clients can sign-off and get their project or contract started faster and your sales team doesn’t waste valuable selling time on unnecessary follow up.
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What is DocuSign?
DocuSign is a software tool that allows organizations to manage electronic agreements and obtain electronic signatures. It’s offered as free electronic signature software at the basic level, with paid subscriptions available with more features.
Most users cite DocuSign’s simplicity as one of the biggest pluses. In short, you can add a signature button to documents and send it to your contact for them to electronically sign.
Most users cite the lack of editing ability once signatures are added. Due to the legalities around electronic signatures, users can’t edit a document once they start adding signatures as it could void the contract.
Most users find DocuSign’s interface easy to use but want more robust variables, more document storage, and more powerful integrations.
There can be a learning curve if your prospects are not used to e-signing. However, they don’t need to sign up for a DocuSign account, which streamlines the client experience.
Support and Training
Many users report that the support response time for users at the free level is quite slow but users with paid subscriptions don’t find the same.
DocuSign users can only integrate their sales tech stack tools like CRMs on highest-tier ‘Advanced Solutions’ paid plans.
Reporting and Tracking
DocuSign provides you with a document history and audit trail for your signatures but doesn’t track other metrics like how much time a prospect spends on specific sections of the proposal.
DocuSign pricing includes both a free and paid version. The free version is great if you send a low volume of proposals to be signed as there is a cap on how many signatures/documents you can send per month. You get 5 free signatures and then are charged for any beyond that.
What is proposal software?
Proposal software, also referred to as proposal management software, helps sales teams efficiently create, present, send, sign, and track business proposals.
Proposal software combines the ease of electronic signatures with features like a robust proposal editor for fully branded proposals and lots of tracking and reporting options (more on this below). And, since the esignature tool is built right into proposal software, you don’t have to pay for and manage a separate tool in your sales tech stack.
If you’re looking to slap a quick signature on a contract, proposal software may have too many features you won’t make good use of.
Since electronic signatures are a built-in tool, users don’t have to leave the proposal software app to add signatures. Robust integrations use a variety of variables to pull in accurate information directly from your CRM.
Since proposal software is usually priced per user, not per proposal or per signatures, users can have as many signatures as required. Plus, some proposal software allows users to include unassigned signatures.
For example, if your team is using Proposify and your sales rep is unsure who will be the signee on a proposal—maybe their contact or their contact’s boss?—they can add an unassigned signature prompt and then either person on the contact side can assume that signature.
As with other electronic signature software, your prospect doesn’t need to sign up for an account with proposal software. They simply sign and/or initial as prompted.
Support and Training
Support is key with a time-sensitive task like proposal creation and dedicated proposal software means dedicated proposal support.
Email and chat support are the most common ways to get specific questions answered. Phone-based support can be another option as well. These support channels go hand-in-hand with self-serve options like a detailed knowledge base and/or blog.
Proposal software is known for its integrations with other business software that helps close deals and stay on top of sales.
For example, Proposify supports more than 30 integrations, including Salesforce and payment processing through Stripe. Plus customers can use Zapier for extra integration power to streamline the workflow and maintain consistency.
Reporting and Tracking
Metrics and analytics are the backbones of proposal software. They can track the prospect’s interaction with a proposal from the first open to the final sign-off.
These metrics and notifications let you and your sales reps know data points like when the prospect opens the proposal, how many times they view it, which pages they spend the most time on, and, critically, when the proposal is signed.
For sales leaders, proposal software metrics can help them stay on top of their deal pipeline by tracking ACV, where proposals are within their deal stages, and which proposals are sent and signed or still awaiting signatures.
Most proposal software is billed on a per user basis. For example, Proposify plans for sales teams start at $49 per user per month.
There are a few factors that influence the total price of your proposal software investment, including:
- Features and integrations
- Onboarding and training
- Templates and asset set-up
- Priority support
Over to you
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your sales team whether to use standalone electronic signature software or use an integrated signature tool that’s part of proposal software. But I do suggest that you use electronic signatures, for the reasons mentioned above.
If you send out a low volume proposals and don’t need much by way of custom branding or reporting, an electronic signature tool like DocuSign might be the product for your sales team.
That being said, if you’re looking to create customized proposals that pull in accurate variables from your sales tech stack, an all-in-one tool like proposal software could be the answer. You can explore all the features proposal software offers, including interactive pricing options, presentation mode, custom templates, and video, with a Proposify free trial.