Sage acquires GoProposal to strengthen accountant partners with unique proposal management software

GoProposal’s software provides a complete client onboarding system, focused on automated pricing, proposal, and engagement letter solutions, and also demonstrates to the customer the value that the accountants’ other software recommendations provide.

Business software vendor Sage has announced their fourth recent investment into cloud-based fintech companies targeting the SMB market in the last 12 months with the acquisition of fellow UK-based company GoProposal, which has been in business since 2016, and which makes proposal management software for small and mid-sized accountancy firms. GoProposal’s solution fills both what has been a gap in the market, and a gap in the skill set of most accountants. The GoProposal team joins Sage’s global accountants team based in Manchester, UK.

GoProposal provides a complete client onboarding system, focused on automated pricing, proposal, and engagement letter solutions.

“GoProposal enables accounting businesses to price consistently, sit with clients, agree on fees and sign them on the spot,” said James Ashford, GoProposal’s founder, who is now VP, GoProposal, Sage. “It’s all very transparent and collaborative.”

Ashford said that he learned of the need for GoProposal through a web design business that he ran earlier.

“Nearly always, the main challenge was managing the price, taking control of the  scope of work,” he noted. “If you don’t have control of this, typically down the line there would be major problems for both parties. That can be a terrible experience, and it takes up a lot of time.”

Chris Downing, Director of  Product Marketing, Accountants and Bookkeepers at Sage, who was an accountant for 19 years before joining Sage three years ago, said GoProposal fills a gap in many accountants’ skill sets.

“Accountants have been good at their day jobs, but too polite at conveying the value of the work they perform,” he said. “There have not been solutions like this before. What accountants did instead was send emails, which is time consuming, clunky and doesn’t let accountants show off what they can do best. GoProposal saw a gap in the market in terms of how accountants price, to deliver a brilliant experience on day one.”

“It’s unique in the way its priced to sell these services, in the way that it perfectly manages the price, the scope and the engagement letter within five minutes,” Ashford said.

For example, a feature called AppsMap demonstrates to the accountants’ customers the apps they recommend, how they fit together and how the data flows between them.

“Accountants provide much greater value when they understand their client needs and implement a full stack of apps,” Ashford indicated. “We automatically produce an AppsMap which shows how the software all flows together and shows the problems that the accountant solves.”

Sage had nothing like this before, and they believe that GoProposal will drive them forward significantly in the accounting market.

“It is a complete net new capability,” said  Derk Bleeker, Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Sage. “GoProposal is still a very small part of the accounting market, so there is a huge market opportunity, given that accountants are critical to the small business ecosystem. This is why we bought the company. It will be the spearhead of our proposition towards accountants, and while not the only thing we provide, it will revolutionize what we bring to the accounting profession.”

GoProposal has about 1200 customers worldwide today, of which about 10% are in North America.

“We do have Canadian firms using it for real success,” Ashford said. “When someone signs up in Canada, they can download Canadian pricing and Canadian services. We have a very small footprint in Canada, but its is very important to us.”

GoProposal will be sold by Sage to their accountant channel, rather than through it to customers.

“We are completely committed to the channel, because it allows us to scale in the midmarket, but this will be targeted at accountants who are not typically served by VARs,” Bleeker said. “We want to evangelize it to them. For our VAR partners, the main importance of this is that it signals Sage’s commitment to the journey to create cloud products – not just to catch up, but to break new ground.”