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What is a software proposal?
A software proposal is a document sent to a prospective client to present the value of a software product and clarify supporting services included with the contract, such as training and onboarding. Proposals sent with proposal software can include the terms of service and e-signatures so that—once accepted—the proposal acts as a binding contract between two parties.
The ideal format for a software proposal includes an overview of the client’s goals, the solution, and what sets the company apart.
While one software proposal will showcase only the features and customer support as in the solution section, another might include very detailed project phases for implementation and training.
What are the types of software proposals?
The main types of software proposals are enterprise software proposals and SaaS proposals.
Enterprise software proposals - Enterprise software caters to large companies and organizations. Implementation is far more complex, so these types of proposals tend to include not only details about the proposed solution but also rollout timelines and milestones and the scope of work for data integration or data onboarding.
SaaS proposals - SaaS proposals, on the other hand, often only sell software access. There won’t be custom project deliverables. The SaaS proposal might include some details about customer support access, but there won’t be a ton of project management involved. These proposals are aimed at startups, solopreneurs, and small businesses.
Keep in mind that a single company can send both types of proposals to cater to their different customer segments. Many successful companies have SaaS and enterprise branches.
Software development proposals are completely different. These software project proposals are for custom web app or mobile app development. The client will pay for the development process. Meanwhile, a software proposal (described in this guide) is designed for selling access to software that already exists and whatever custom services will help a client make the most of it.
Software proposal examples
A great proposal should be detailed, brief, and results-focused.
Here are a couple of examples you can use as inspiration.
Enterprise software proposal example
There are several things you can learn from this enterprise software proposal.
For starters, it includes an Overview and Goals page that mentions the client’s business growth, and associated challenges. The page then offers a bulleted list of the solutions needed to address those issues.
This proposal also includes the project scope. The work is broken down into three main categories: enterprise application management, customer relationship management, and business intelligence. On the second page of the Scope of Services section, the proposal lists the software products included and gives an overview of the project timeline.
Overall, the proposal serves as a great example of how to combine software access and hands-on work.
View the entire proposal example and use it as a template.
SaaS proposal example
A SaaS proposal is usually a lot simpler, because there’s typically less custom work involved.
This SaaS example offers a few lessons. The Why Us section includes the company’s beliefs, history, value proposition, and commitment to customer support in just a few short paragraphs. Use this as inspiration when crafting your own Why us page.
The What We Offer portion of the proposal does an excellent job of combining software features and business benefits together. Make sure to use this section of the proposal to spell out the results of using your software, not just the functionality.
This SaaS proposal example also includes a bright, on-brand pricing section with different options. Clients can select the best fit for their business, and then sign off on the subscription.
All in all, the proposal does an excellent job of selling the software in the company’s unique brand voice and distilling essential details into a single document.
How to prepare for writing a software proposal
Before you can write a proposal, you need first to understand the client’s business case for your software.
How to identify the clients’ needs
Asking the right questions is the most important part of any sales process. Client discovery always comes before writing a proposal.
Client discovery can be done in a single software demo or a series of sales calls, demos, and presentations with different stakeholders.
Here are some questions you might ask:
Why did you decide to book a demo of our software?
What is your team struggling with when it comes to [task or project]?
What are you currently using to manage [task or project]?
How does your team collaborate on [task or project]?
When demoing your software, pay attention to what features and customer stories they respond to the most. This can help you identify the client’s problems and goals.
What to include in the proposal
Before you sit down to write your proposal, it’s important to know what it should include so you can prepare ahead of time and gather everything you need.
The ideal software proposal outline will cover all of these sections (although the names of the sections can change):
Cover page - This entails a picture, your company’s name, the client’s name, and the date
Overview of problem and goals - Also known as an executive summary, this section serves as high-level overview of the client’s current situation, their goals, and how you can help.
Why us - This page is better than an about page because it includes company bio details as well as differentiators and unique selling propositions.
Solution - In this section, you’ll go over the software’s features and how this will directly impact the company’s goals. You can also include onboarding and support information here.
Implementation - For enterprise software, you might want a dedicated section for software implementation, where you’ll outline a custom onboarding and training project.
Case studies - Include mini case studies with customer testimonials to help the client visualize their success with your platform.
Pricing - Showcase the price and what it includes or create a table with different pricing options.
Contract and signature - To turn your proposal into a contract, make sure to include your terms of conditions and e-signatures for both your and the account point of contact.
How to write a software proposal
To write a detailed proposal, follow these simple steps.
Step 1. Begin with a software proposal template
Kick things off with a proposal template to save time.
Proposify offers a variety of proposal templates for the software industry.
Using a template not only saves time with writing but with designing as well. You can send the template to your in-house graphic designer and ask them to make it on-brand, or spend an hour or so tweaking it yourself to match your company’s branding.
Step 2. Craft the re-usable sections to create your company’s own template
The next step is to craft messaging that you can reuse for different clients.
You can start with your Why Us section. It should be informed by competitive research. Let’s take PropertyRadar as an example. This real estate intelligence software offers 250+ criteria for building lists of the perfect properties (for direct mail campaigns). Their competitors offer less than 50. So their salesperson might write something like, “PropertyRadar offers 5X the amount of targeting criteria so you can get better ROI on every direct mail campaign.”
All in all, you can plan on creating reusable content for these proposal sections:
Contract and signature
Step 3. Determine the best offer for a specific client
Before you can customize your company’s proposal template for a specific client, you need to lean on your client discovery process, your experience, and your intuition to make decisions about what to present.
When choosing the best approach for each client, here are some things to consider:
Which software subscription to steer them towards
Which add-on software products to offer
Which add-on services to offer (custom onboarding, implementation, integration, training, API development, etc.)
Whether or not to only include your desired options in the proposal or to offer multiple plans and add-ons and allow them to choose
Step 4. Get the client’s verbal agreement
Before you start customizing your proposal for a client, you might want to check that you’re all on the same page. You could host a final call to propose your software and the pricing options quickly, and see if that fits their needs and expectations. Once you’ve got the green light, go ahead and move onto the next step.
If it’s a large corporation or government agency, you could ask your point of contact what essential information the decision-makers will want to see. Even if there isn’t a request for proposal (RFP) being sent out for software solutions like yours, you could ask to see a previous, unrelated RFP so you know what this entity looks for in the proposal format.
Step 5. Revise the proposal sections that should be unique to that client
Now it’s time to customize your company’s proposal template for a specific client. Take the proposal template and alter all of these sections to match the client’s company name and their needs.
Overview of problem and goals
Contract and signature
To make things more human and personal, you might even add photos and contact information of the specific team members who will assist them after they sign (such as onboarding specialists or customer success managers).
Step 6. Send the proposal
Now it’s time to send the proposal. Proposals with e-signatures assigned to both the sender and recipient are 426% more likely to close.
To increase your chances of getting the deal closed by a further 36.8%, be sure to sign the proposal before you send it.
Step 7. Make adjustments if necessary
And finally, be prepared to make adjustments. When we researched thousands of SaaS proposals, we found that proposals that close are viewed 2.5 times on average, while unsuccessful proposals are viewed 3 times.
When using Proposify, you can use viewing metrics to your advantage. If you notice that a prospect has viewed a proposal 3 or more times but hasn’t signed it yet, go ahead and ask them if they’d like to change the scope or explore a different solution.
5 software proposal writing tips
To rock your software proposals, try these smart tips.
1. Include images and videos alongside text
Multimedia content can help seal the deal. Including images in a SaaS proposal boosts the closing rate by 23%, while including at least one video will bump up the closing rate by 41%.
For images, you can include team photos, software screenshots, and case study result graphs. For videos, try making a simple, friendly high-level overview of the proposal or uploading an explainer video. With Proposify, you can easily arrange images and videos on any proposal page.
2. Write out pricing options in interactive fee tables
When you offer interactive fee tables—a table where the client can select add-ons and quantities—you can boost closing rates by 173%.
This is a no-brainer. Software pricing should be customizable, especially for larger companies.
3. Try multiple forms of social proof
Unlike agencies and small firms, software companies typically garner a lot of online reviews. Websites like G2 and Capterra are well-known review sites for vetting business software.
If you’ve got a great star average or any awards from these sites, be sure to include those badges. That can help add quantity to your social proof, whereas the testimonials and case studies are more about quality.
4. Write different templates for different levels of service
As mentioned above, we recommend starting with a general software template and then customizing it to make a template that is specific to your business and can be used again and again.
You can take this strategy a step further by crafting different templates for different software products, subscriptions, or levels of service. This will drastically improve your speed when sending proposals to clients, as you’ll have to do less customization each time.
5. Benchmark your average viewing rates and closing rates to inform template revisions
To make sure that your proposal writing is on point, we recommend tracking your benchmarks. Inside of Proposify, you can check your analytics for average viewing rates and closing rates. You can then compare individual clients and proposals against these metrics.
You might find that one proposal type closes at a better rate than another. For example, maybe your hands-off software access closes at 3X the rate as your custom implementation offer. This could inform you that your custom service is priced too high, and maybe you need to try writing up a mid-level offer with some barebones hands-on service at a lower rate.
Get even more data-driven tips in the State of SaaS Proposals.
Next steps: create a software proposal in minutes
To create and send an excellent software proposal, you need templates, e-signatures, dynamic fee tables, and analytics all in one place.
With Proposify, you get these and more features designed to boost closing rates.