Companies looking to simplify building sales documents such as proposals will find Pragmatech Software Inc.s Proposal Automation Suite and The Savo Groups Sales Asset Manager good tools for creating standardized, customer-bound communications. Proposal Automation Suite 6.0, which began shipping last month, and Sales Asset Manager 3.7, which was updated earlier this month, give sales and marketing teams a set of tools for creating standard descriptions of products and services and using those descriptions to build sales proposals automatically.Proposal Automation Suite, which runs on a PC, is part of a set of desktop and server applications that gives companies a way to build responses to RFPs (requests for proposals), presentations and other sales communications. Pragmatech prices its components on a per-seat basis, with the suite costing $1,500 to $2,500 per seat. Sales Asset Manager is a hosted application with several a la carte modules for developing brochures, proposals, presentations, e-mail messages and competitive intelligence. Pricing for the full suite is $700 per user per year. Both applications provided good tools for building robust and complex sales documents. Companies that want to retain control of their sales and marketing documentation will find Proposal Automation Suite to be a powerful application, albeit one that requires considerable training. As a hosted application, Sales Asset Manager is easy to use and gets users up and running quickly, although it doesnt provide metadata management features to content creators. Click here to read the full review of Proposal Automation Suite. We found creating and managing content in Sales Asset Manager to be straightforward. The service will typically have two major components: a main portal that organizes and distributes content for salespeople and a management section that sales operations and marketing teams use to create and manage content. When it came to putting together a proposal or presentation, Sales Asset Manager made it easy for us to quickly select appropriate content. From an administrative standpoint, we liked the flexibility the system provided in requiring or prohibiting the inclusion of certain materials in a given scenario. Furthermore, we liked the tools available for creating and managing content. For example, we could create our own mail-merge templates for distribution to salespeople from within the administrative portion of the application. Building the actual content isnt as elegant a process as it is with a desktop tool such as Proposal Automation Suite. With Sales Asset Manager, users enter content from within fields displayed in the Web browser. Although the system supports creation of rich-text documents, building content in Word gave us broader formatting options. However, with Sales Asset Manager, we could search all metadata and document text. One of the most compelling features we found in Sales Asset Manager is the ability to create custom forms for salespeople to fill out when compiling documents. These forms tie in to Sales Asset Managers graphical reporting engine, giving marketing a way to look at content using a range of criteria, such as market segments, customer size or geography. Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
eWEEK Labs tests showed that using these tools will help companies standardize marketing messages and ensure sales content is up-to-date while reducing the time it takes for salespeople to create content.