Quotes and proposals are crucial for the success of any small business that offers a product or servicewhich is to say, most businesses. But creating and tracking them has largely remained a manual process, even with the introduction of word processors and spreadsheets. Quosal aims to streamline the process of preparing and managing sales documents, from inception to resolution, which will give you more time to concentrate on other parts of your business.
Quosal is available two ways: As a traditional boxed software application that you load on a PC, or as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering hosted on Quosals servers that you access online. Both iterations are identical in look and features, so choose the model that best fits your needs.
Quosal integrates with leading CRM (customer relationship management) applications such as salesforce.com, so if youve already made the switch to such a platform, your existing customer data is just a click away in Quosal.
We tried out the SaaS hosted version of Quosal, and came away impressed (the company offers a no-obligation 30-day trial to the full online version if you prefer to try before you buy). The setup process took about 20 minutes, which included the download and installation of Microsofts .NET Framework (a component common to many newer Windows applications) and the 45MB Quosal Client applet.
Quosals handsome interface features slick transition effects.
(Click for larger image).
Quosals handsomely designed interface is one of the best-looking user interfaces weve seen on a business application. Icons to access the main workspace, an overview of quotes, customer data, product information, templates and stored documents, and program options are located in a column to the left of the main screen.
Menu choices along the bottom change to match the section of the program you are in at the time. When you switch between screens, Quosal employs a neat spinning cube transition effect; no, that trick doesnt make the program more powerful, just more enjoyable to look at, which is welcome compared to the static screens most of us stare at all day. Another nice touch: Theres never any need to hit a Save button, since the program saves each action automatically as you work.
Fortunately, Quosal has the substance to back up all its style. Its Documents area features a built-in forms designer so you can create simple sales proposals or lengthy scope-of-work documents exactly as you want them. Even better, start with one of Quosals pre-built templates and customize from there.
To do that, simply select Edit Template and the documents opens in Microsoft Word (Quosal supports Word 2003 and 2007) so you can make your changes in a familiar word processor. The program also supports merge tags in Word, so you can create a custom proposal by having Quosal replace tagged words and phrases with ones specific to the quote at hand.
The Customers area supports two-way interaction with the salesforce.com and ACT CRM solutions (with more application support on the way). Changes and additions you make in your CRM application automatically appear in Quosal, and vice versa. You can create a new quote or proposal for an existing customer in your database by clicking on that customers entry and assigning a new quote to them.
Quosals Product area is particularly robust. Click on a product entry, and the pane on the right shows your sources for that product and the prices you pay, which lets you more accurately price the product for your customer. The program can put the best price first, or you can have it put the price from your preferred supplier at the top of the list. Quosal also gives you detailed control over pricing in a quote.
Quosal has also partnered with Etilize, a product content management solution. This service has aggregated product descriptions and photos from thousands of manufacturers; using Quosal, you can automatically pull that data into your quotesno more hunting down descriptions and images on your own and performing the old copy-and-paste into your documents.
Once you've created and delivered a proposal to a client, Quosal helps you manage the opportunity. Thanks to its process-automation features, it can help you follow up and track the status of a potential deal by creating events in your CRM application and associating actions with those events.
For example, when you create a new proposal, Quosal can automatically update the customer record to reflect that a new deal has been proposed. When you actually send the proposal to the client, you can assign a follow-up date that's added to your CRM calendar (and also appears as a to-do item in Quosals Task list).
Quosal costs $299 for a single license or $1,099 for a three-user license pack (other bundles are available if you have more people). If your business is product-centric, the Quosal-plus-Etilize bundle ($499) might make more sense.
As for support, Quosal offers registered userseven those using the trail versionaccess to its online knowledge base, training video library, documentation and community forums. The company also has e-mail, live chat and phone support; the latter two are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday.
No matter what type of documents your sales staff needs in order to pitch a deal, from simple price quotes to lengthy scope-of-work proposals, Quosal has you covered. It makes creating quotes easy ‑‑ and tracking them in one place even easier.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.com.