Sparkling: Simplify Sales Proposal Creation

Somehow, I am attracted to certain types of apps. When it comes to mobile, it’s the image editing and manipulating genre and in the case of the cloud, it’s the quote generation apps. I have reviewed a handful of them here over the past few months and today, it’s the turn of Sparkling.

In a sales process, it is very common for businesses to haggle over the price and in turn, a quote ends up edited and updated multiple times. There will be customer specific charges and fees as well. So, it’s imperative that the quote creation app is flexible enough to accommodate all the crazy changes.

That’s exactly what I’m going to look for in Sparkling. Join me!

Before Jumping In..

Usually I comment on whether the user interface of an app is simplistic or not. For a change, the simplistic homepage design of Sparkling grabbed my attention. SaaS apps tend to have flamboyant homepage designs and there often will be information overflow.

Sparkling’s design is simple, neat and there is no information overflow. But, there is way too little information to convince a visitor to explore the app further. Lifting a couple of key points from the tour page will make for a more convincing argument.

The app offers only one subscription plan that costs $29 which includes unlimited quotes, clients and team members.

Getting Started

I signed up for a 14 day free trial and was pleasantly surprised when I saw the dashboard. The user interface is built on top of Twitter Bootstrap and as a fan of this amazing open source framework, I got a warm, fuzzy feeling!

Bootstrap User Interface

Bootstrap User Interface

Sure, if you are tech savvy and in particular someone with an eye for design, the use of a stock UI elements from Bootstrap might put you off a bit. But, in my opinion, Sparkling is one app that has brought the best out of Bootstrap in a web app.

Workflow

If you are trying to keep an eye on what everyone in your team is up to, you’ll love the activity feed in the dashboard.

Item Types

Item Types

For those in a hurry, a prominently placed Add Proposal button is hard to miss. And, before you ask, the workflow is extremely simple as well. It all starts with a brief description of the proposal and the client information. Interestingly three types of items are available to select at start – text, video and budget.

Follow that with a few lines of charges and taxes, and you’re done. The process was simple, but I got totally confused with the Amount and Price per Unit fields.

Adding Charges to a Proposal

Adding Charges to a Proposal

I ran into huge numbers when I entered my charge in the amount field followed by the price per month fields. Apparently, amount refers to the quantity of units and not the actual amount. Renaming the amount field to quantity or something similar will definitely avoid this confusion.

A Quote before applying a theme

A Quote before applying a theme

The quote I generated looked decent enough, but was rather bland. I tried to make it look gorgeous by applying a theme.

Themes

Theme Editor

Theme Editor

You can do so much with the theme editor. The downside is you’ll have to be someone that understands code and have an eye for design. Options to edit the HTML and CSS should make a designer very happy when it comes to customizing the theme. Sparkling team also offers free custom theme consultation as well. Grab it if you are not so into tinkering with code!

Templates

Saving time at every possible turn is vital to close a deal. The text and product templates help you do just that. Quickly insert content created earlier and get the job done. The search box at the top right corner makes the process of finding the right templates painless.

Keeping an Eye on Status

You can send a proposal right away, bypassing the hassle of downloading and attaching a PDF file. And, I just love how these quote management apps allow tracking what happens with a proposal.

Tracking Proposals

Tracking Proposals

Sparkling alerts you with an email when a proposal is opened. Multiple proposals can be easily monitored from the Proposals dashboard. Being able to see who viewed the proposal is awesome, additional perk!

Final Thoughts

Sparkling scored perfectly on the flexibility part of the equation. Affordable pricing and a simple workflow work in favor of the app. Lack of easy to use templates is a major downside. In addition to a variety of color themes, pre built templates for common quote types will make Sparkling’s offerings more competitive.

A lot of new quote generation apps have come up in the past few months. While one excels in creating gorgeous proposals, others focus on analytics, niche targeting etc. Sparkling’s strong suite is its simplicity. But, if you are looking for something more, do check out our coverage of the competition. And, don’t forget to tell us about your pick!


Summary

Sparkling is web based software for sending beautiful proposals to your clients.

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