Proposals make lasting impressions. A polished, well-formatted proposal conveys competence, expertise, and professionalism. A sloppy, inconsistent proposal communicates the opposite. Knowing how to leverage Microsoft Office is key in ensuring that your proposal makes the kind of great impression your company deserves.
When it comes to winning proposals, Expedience Software is the proposal industry’s recognized Microsoft® Word expert. The company’s proposal automation tool is 100% designed and developed in native Word, providing a library of optimized content directly in Microsoft Word, with automation to support custom formatting, Excel and PowerPoint integration, and proposal assembly.
Following the firm’s recognition as the Most Innovative in Word Automation Tools, 2019, we delve into why Expedience is synonymous with Microsoft-delivered proposal excellence.
Expedience Software’s core mission is to help organizations enhance, automate, and evolve their proposals and proposal creation processes. Founded by proposal industry veterans, Expedience has assisted thousands of customers across many industries to solve the challenges associated with these critical business development documents to help them win more business.
The company’s software is frequently cited as being the easiest to use and most effective proposal automation software on the market today.
Expedience Founder and CEO Melissa Mabon and her team steadfastly believe Microsoft is the only place where their software should play, even as a plethora of companies push cloud-only automation solutions.
“That’s where proposal people live,” explains Mabon, noting that Microsoft allows proposal teams to take advantage of the best aspects of desktop and cloud environments. “It’s becoming more and more seamless – the difference between on-premise and cloud is being minimalized – because we have synced files in Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and other collaboration platforms. You can have all your SharePoint files protected on SharePoint but access them just like a folder on your desktop. That’s the direction the market is going – there will be this everseamless connection between the speed and ease of the desktop with the power and reach of the cloud/internet,” she says.
“For better or worse, a proposal’s ‘look’ often defines how a
prospect views your sales team and your company,” notes Mabon. “It’s the first piece of proof that you pay attention to detail, understand how to communicate clearly, and that you value customers’ time.”
Expedience’s styles guru, Diane Loudenback, VP of Client Services, agrees. She frequently works with writers and proposal managers who are laser-focused on proposal quality.
Expedience has integrated and super-charged Word Styles, putting the proposal professional firmly in the driver’s seat. Expedience styles management makes formatting a document quick and easy by centralizing core proposal elements such as headers, footers, logos, and tables. Using Styles, writers, and other bid team members can create beautiful and consistent proposal documents that set their organization apart from the competition – while freeing up valuable time so they can focus on creating more strategic content.
management solution ensures organizations have consistent, accurate, branded formatting across all sales documents. The tool ensures consistency and control – allowing you to easily align proposal formatting to meet customer RFP requirements.
“Taking control of your document will help drive consistency and easy updating. Styles give you more confidence that the content you add to a document is consistent from a branding perspective across all your documents,” says Loudenback.
That was a huge driver for QBT, an Australia-based travel agency that serves the Australian government among other corporate travel clients.
The agency’s bid team needed a customized template to ensure easy updating of content. Since going live with Expedience’s automated proposal solution that includes styles and content management, the travel agency reports that their bid process is much more efficient, and bid team members can now focus on the things that “really matter to the business.”
“Expedience was the obvious choice for us. It looks great and is easy to use. Having a customizable template is very beneficial for us; it allows both the Sales team and the Bid Management team to control the content efficiently,” says Sara Nedelkoska, Commercial Bid Writer, QBT.
Seamless Content Access
Expedience also tackles the issue of accessing up-to-date proposal content, the most timeconsuming and error-prone part of proposal creation.
“No one has time to upload, download, and reformat content from an external database into a Word document, or weed through 40 possible answers to an RFP question. When up against a deadline, proposal writers resort to what’s familiar: opening old proposals and doing workarounds, leading to costly errors,” observes Jason Anderson, a seasoned proposal writer, and former Expedience customer.
“There is no need to leave Word to access content in an external database. This means that Expedience Portfolios are remarkably fast and easy to use. All of Word’s sophisticated formatting and other tools are always available,” Anderson says.
Many proposal teams also struggle with how to respond efficiently to Excel-based RFPs. Existing proposal content usually lives outside Excel, requiring under-deadline proposal teams to spend time entering responses manually from different software such as Microsoft® Word. Formatting challenges and character count limits within Excel are commonplace, forcing you to crunch content into cells designed for numbers with very little flexibility, increasing the chance of errors.
With Expedience, content is formatted automatically to be “Excel-ready.” Instead of copying and pasting content from Word to Excel, teams can access their Portfolio to answer questions from Excel-based RFPs, saving time and improving the accuracy of their final product.
Expedience’s Excel Connect product allows bid teams to easily import an Excel RFP spreadsheet into a Word table, enabling them to leverage the Expedience Content Library as well as the complete functionality of Microsoft Word. The tool, built with client input from around the world, is “a game-changer for customers responding to Excel-based RFPs,” says Jason Anderson, VP of Sales and Proposal Strategy.
Expedience’s software inspects the Excel RFP worksheet and data restrictions directly from Word, checks the character counts of RFP answers, and exports answers from Word back to Excel. Proposal writers can:
• Search questions and insert content from your Expedience Content Library
• Update Placeholders and Replacement Fields using Expedience Ribbon Automation
• Activate Word’s Track Changes feature to support collaborating with SME’s and Reviewers
Expedience offers a proposal management solution that works directly in a team’s Word-based RFP. The company’s newest offering, Proposal Maestra, works on all these fronts – allowing proposal managers to flag bid/no-bid issues, make assignments, and identify and tailor win themes, making them readily available for viewing in Maestra as well as in reports to their team.
“Whether you assign some or the entire RFP to just a few or many owners, you are able through Maestra to better manage the entire process,” says Loudenback.
Maestra not only tracks these assignments but also generates highly customizable reports. Because these reports are created in Word, they can be preformatted with a company’s corporate styles and include instructions and win themes to guide the proposal’s focus, emphasis, and style.
Once a team is ready to thoroughly analyze or ‘shred’ the proposal, Proposal Maestra provides unique ‘intentional shredding’ to let the proposal manager direct and control this function. Once tags and assignments are complete, Maestra creates a comprehensive tracking and compliance matrix in
Microsoft Word or Excel, with the ability to customize it to meet all tracking requirements.
As companies look to increase their proposal win rates in 2020, they need not look beyond the familiar Microsoft environment to create professional, compliant, and strategic proposals. Clearly, the Microsoft experts at Expedience are a smart investment for organizations that wish to step up their RFP game by leveraging the familiar Microsoft platform they already have at their fingertips.
Contact: Sharon Coddington
Company: Expedience Software