Product Review: Bidsketch – easily and quickly send out proposals to clients.

I’ve been trialling Bidsketch as a more efficient way to get written proposals to my clients. I don’t write a huge number of proposals, and am prone to reinvent the wheel each time I need to do one, which is a large waste of my time.

Bidsketch is a great way for me to have modular proposal templates, and I can pick and chose which sections to include and then customise them if required.

Most of my proposals follow a fairly standard template that generally has three main sections. The first starts with a brief introduction of who Automatica is, a paragraph about the client and their identified requirements and an overview of the problem we are solving. The middle section is the nuts and bolts, the technology and services that we are recommending and pricing information. The final section is a brief recap (if necessary) and a call to action.

By using a set of predefined chunks, Bidsketch makes it quick to reuse content (and this content can have variables in it, such as the client name that’s automatically replaced) and lets me focus on writing the actual meat of the proposal – the technical recommendations.

Through the ability to add pricing information, there are some nice additions that are more flexible than a straight quote from Xero. You can separate out hardware and services and add in optional items, as well as monthly and annual subscription services and presents them to the client in a straightforward fashion that’s clear and easy to understand.

Once you have completed the proposal, it can be viewed in a browser, downloaded as a PDF or sent to the client directly. Bidsketch allow you to brand your instance of their service, so instead of having the proposals come from automatica.bidsketch.com, instead they can come from proposals.automatica.com.au (or whatever you want).

You can get a notification when a client visits the site to view the proposal, which is an incredibly powerful tool. It really gives you the ability to strike while the iron is hot. Give your client 5 minutes after they’ve opened the proposal and then call them, you can’t get better timing after this.

Pretty much the only downside to the service that I have encountered so far is the default proposal templates are not amazing. Whilst I would consider them to be OK to send to “business” clients, I work with a lot of clients in creative and visual industries, and really need my proposals to stand out.

I contacted support about this and received a very quick and friendly reply that pointed me to information where I can build my own templates – this flexibility is very good, but now I need to find the time to tweak it.

I was able to find one proposal template to use that was acceptable – it was clean and modern looking and not too fancy – and it must look OK as the client accepted my proposal. That’s one for one so far. I hope I can keep up this strike rate.

All in all, I can see that there is definitely value to be had by making the proposal generation process simpler and breaking it down into a more modular fashion. By creating the pieces of the puzzle ahead of time, you can standardise the information in your proposals, and ensure consistency between different proposals created by different people within your organisation. Tracking when a client opens the proposal is a powerful tool in your toolkit and can ensure you’re having the right conversation at the right time with your client.

This article was posted by Kai Howells. If you liked this content and have any technical work in the Melbourne area, say hello via my contact form or give me a call on 0419 361 653 - I cover most of the greater Melbourne area and my rates are competitive.

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