The large assortment of invoicing platforms & sales proposal software for small and large businesses can be quite overwhelming to choose from. Depending on your business’ needs, it is best to gain some foundational knowledge from a microbusiness perspective and build on that knowledge to make an optimal, well-informed decision. This article reviews some of the options for choosing the best invoicing & proposal platform out there.
How We Chose the Best Invoicing Platform & Sales Proposal Software
The path to discovering the best quote platform can be a treacherous one, especially for new business owners. Many of us who began consulting the first day we started a business may have tried using WordTemplate, but quickly saw the limitations of it; there was no way to receive payment easily – you just sent the $1000 invoice and prayed a check would come a week later.
Others defaulted to Quickbooks but saw how unappealing, clunky, and expensive it was to use their bookkeeping, quoting, and invoicing features (not to mention the inadequacies of their customer support system). This led new business owners to scour the web in search of something better-priced with nice quoting & invoicing features, ultimately ending up with the likes of Zoho Invoice, Xero, and Freshbooks. Unfortunately, many of us can’t get away from Intuit Quickbooks because it is the defacto standard platform for coding books by bookkeepers, and accountants are used to the P&L and Balance Sheet reports.
The shortcomings of platforms like Quickbooks or other professional service automation systems highlighted the elements that would truly make a suitable quoting tool. The list below sums up the criteria that we’ve established for deciding on the best invoicing platforms out there.
Key Requirements in Quoting Tools
- Seamless integration with their PSA, CRM, or bookkeeping software
- Use of quote services and products is efficient. Protip! If you’re interested in how to save even more time and money, check out our blogpost on automating quotes
- Nice, modern-looking quote templates
- Ease of use, especially for old-time sales people
- An intuitive workflow for accepting and invoicing quotes
- The price is justified for the user’s needs
What are popular business applications in need of a better quoting tool?
The answer to this question can depend on the industry you’re in, but not many perform this task well. Below is a list of applications that can be pretty industry agnostic, or dominant players that are used by every industry (for better or worse, your quoting tool should integrate with it). Obviously, your workflow may not apply to some of these applications, but nevertheless, an integration may be necessary. Whatever platform is performing the core billing functions is most likely the business application you integrate with.
- Datto Autotask PSA
- Kaseya BMS
- Microsoft Dynamics
Vendor & Distributor Integrations
The final piece is the vendor and distributor integrations, though this is not critical unless you are planning to perform drop shipments of products. Assuming you are in the US and you work in IT, you should really have accounts with:
- Synnex (At least for now, their prices are sometimes lower than TD, despite the merger. Especially on Lenovo, they are by far the cheapest option 99% of the time.)
- Ingram Micro
- D&H (Their prices are usually higher, but they stock some more consumer-ish products and sometimes have better stock.)
ProTip! You can make all four distributors bid against each other to save money, and it also helps you develop lines of credit quicker. This can be helpful on larger orders that your credit/charge card might not allow for.
Our Review of Invoicing platforms & sales proposal software
Here’s a list of options now that we’ve covered integration and our criteria for choosing the best invoicing platforms & sales proposal software, here is our review of some of the current platforms out there.
Datto Commerce (formerly known as Gluh)
At the core of Datto Commerrce is the ability to connect with hardware vendors and sell product online. Datto Sales sold us on seamless integration, from blog post banner advertising (think Amazon Affiliate post) to e-commerce purchase of services. However, nothing about selling services on your website through Datto Commerce is seamless. The process is a complete afterthought, and was a nightmare when trying to process payments for products or services in Autotask. Simply put, Datto Commerce is terrible at integrating with the Autotask PSA. The quoting tool is not too shabby, but I would expect much better from this $200/month tool.
With that said, perhaps selling IT products is your jam. Datto Commerce may be more suited for you if you don’t plan on integrating with Autotask or have another PSA in mind. Supposedly, Connectwise PSA is better suited for these types of transactions, but stay away from integrating with Autotask PSA as of ’22.
For many businesses, the familiar quote platform tool that meets many of their general requirements is QuoteWerks – it checks all six of the boxes stated above. While you won’t get a perfect system out of the box with any quoting tool (it does require some thinking), there are people out there that can help out if you want a plug-and-play system.
Connectwise CPQ (formerly known as Quosal)
While Connectwise CPQ may not be the best invoicing platform, users have reported that it is easy to understand and has increased their workflow and efficiency of quoting. Sell also allows you to customize your templates, which may also increase efficiency if you have a variety of projects.
However, Connectwise’s support is mainly done through call backs and wait times can be long, especially for technical issues (of which there are more than a few). Their integration can be quite coherent or super rough depending on your PSA (Azure and Dynamics are not great for integrating with Connectwise, for example).
Zomentum’s claim is that it will increase your revenue by shortening sales cycles and thus creating more sales. Touting itself as an all-in-one platform for tech sales, it has reliable and responsive support for any bugs you might face. According to users, the ease of use and streamlined process for creating quotes delivers the promised efficiency, but there may be some issues with integration if you use Autotask.
The Best Invoicing Platform & Sales Proposal Software Summary
They say that if you ask the wrong question, you’ll get the wrong answer. Knowing your businesses’ specific needs is an important first step to helping you find the right fit, which is why we hope that our review of quoting services and criteria for finding the best invoicing platform & sales proposal software will provide some guidance in your search. If you could benefit from extra support, don’t hesitate to contact us!