27 Top Takeaways from CBDC 2023!

CBDC - Capture and Business Development Conference

After much anticipation, Thursday November 16 saw CBDC 2023 hit our screens! The eighth annual iteration of our virtual conference took previous years’ success to new heights, as hundreds of bid and proposal professionals hunkered down in their home offices for an action-packed day of innovative strategies, insider secrets and best practice insights.

Our attendees were treated to their pick of 27 45-minute sessions, covering a wide variety of topics from bid and proposal best practices, to AI, to boosting workplace culture.

Remember, the value of this fabulous day didn’t expire with the closing remarks! As one of our attendees, Susan Hale (CP APMP) said, CBDC 2023 “provided solid, actionable information”, and we don’t want anyone to miss out. If you didn’t get the chance to attend the event, you can still REGISTER before December 15 to access event content on-demand until February 14, 2024. There’s even 27 CEU/CPD units up for grabs, with one added to your tracker for every full session you watch.

Whether you missed out or just want to reminisce on a day well spent, let’s take a look together at the key takeaways from this year’s Capture and Business Development Conference.

  1. Be brave enough to face the threats to your next win!

Jon Darby, CPP APMP showed us how to overcome optimism bias and highlighted the importance of carrying out pre-mortems to ace your bids. He taught us how to employ a simple ‘Plan, Do and Act’ process to stay ahead of threats and make sure we’ve done all you can to dodge the dreaded rejection email.

  1. High performing teams view failure and success as two sides of the same coin!

Gary Tintinger, CF APMP guided us through switching our mindsets away from a fear of failure by fostering psychological safety for every single team member. Gary highlighted that nurturing individual team members’ self-esteem and removing the shame attached to failure emboldens everyone to innovate.

  1. Push through the haze and see your capture landscape clearly!

Graeme Robson, CF APMP gave us three of his favorite tips for starting out on a capture opportunity. He showed us how to build emotional relationships with our customers, how to ‘shake the tree’ at the beginning of the process so we understand absolutely everything we need to understand, and how to tell when our customers are open to being shaped.

  1. Capture is about more than best practices… It’s about excitement!

Mark Taylor, CP APMP gave us practical ideas on how you can generate enthusiasm around capture. Mark showed us how to switch out the tired terminology that alienates our jargon-weary leaders for a holistic framework that highlights what capture really is: a transformative means of grabbing opportunity.

  1. Your proposals should comply, compete, compel and convince!

Adam Hoyle gave us a rundown on the ‘4 Cs Model’, offering deeper insights on how you can leverage this model to build and deliver on smarter business development strategies. Adam gave us practical examples of the 4 Cs at work, showing how an evaluator’s score can skyrocket as we progress through each C.

  1. Transform your dormant ideas into thriving realities through the power of mentorship!

Enisa Musai, CF APMP discussed the all too familiar frustration of having our passion for an amazing idea get in the way of us thinking clearly about how to move forward. She outlined how finding the right mentor can help us focus that idea, iron out the kinks and maximize our success.

  1. Enlist AI to help you scour the web for competitor information!

Olessia Smotrova, CF APMP showed us how AI tools can be used to find specific information about your competitors’ strategies and cross-check that information with sources across the web. She talked about how AI can streamline your Black Hat process and highlighted a few useful tools that she uses to win.

  1. Your customers’ decisions are 100% emotional!

Christopher Kälin, CPP APMP dove into the science behind our customers’ decision making, revealing that decisions are entirely made in the emotional part of our brains, then rationalized later. All requirements in an RFP begin with an underlying need, and digging into those needs in your proposal is the key to outshining your competition.

  1. Your customers are your most valuable assets!

Len Miller, CF APMP exposed his tricks for leveraging customer intimacy to maximize customer engagement. He emphasized that nurturing our customers as assets means developing relationships with them on an emotional level – winning their admiration and trust in order to secure their loyalty in future.

  1. Federal contractors should prepare to absorb higher costs in the wake of inflation!

Kevin Plexico gave us a rundown of the top ten projected federal contracting trends for 2024. One of the trends Kevin outlined was recent inflation’s impact on federal contractors, detailing that contract commitments may be more difficult to meet going forward due to inflation and borrowing costs.

  1. Submit your FOIA requests as soon as the contract is awarded!

Brandon Conroy gave away many of his competitive intelligence secrets. If you’ve just lost a government contract and want to see the proposal that won, you may want to submit a FOIA request as soon as you hear. This could give you plenty of time to evaluate your approach and conquer the recompete.

  1. Ask your customers the magic AWE question for selling success!

Who said that good magicians don’t reveal their tricks? Mark Wigginton, CAP CP APMP spilled the seven quality questions he asks to truly understand what a customer wants and needs, including the most important question of all: “And What Else?”.

  1. Dive into the details to understand your true competitiveness!

Ajay Patel, CF APMP posited that many of us don’t actually understand how competitive we are. He outlined that our competitiveness is just as much measured by the missed opportunities we no-bid and the intensity and complexity of the competition as it is about our win rate.

  1. Let AI help you maximize your business development strategy!

Christian Ferreira provided us with valuable insights on how you can use AI to revolutionize your business development process, beginning with the business strategy. In this section, Christian talked us through how AI can help you review your capability statement, conduct SWOT analyses, and conduct strategic planning. He demonstrated AI tools at the end too!

  1. Win with three key steps: people, focus and critical thinking!

Jay Herther, CPP APMP took us through his two-ingredient recipe for success: finding the right people and focusing them on the task at hand early in the process. He encouraged us to move our emphasis away from overanalyzing our processes and practices, and towards moving our people and focus forward by leveraging critical thinking.

  1. Want to break down the silos in your organization? There’s an APP for that!

Kelli Daley, Pamela C. Gunter and Erica Kramer laid out their process for ensuring everyone is working collaboratively towards the same goal in a large sales organization: Accountability, People and Progress! They said that breaking down silos means holding ourselves and others to account, developing ourselves and our teams, and acknowledging our path – maintaining clear communication along the way.

  1. Pursue larger projects with the Mentor-Protégé Program!

Tommy Benz gave us a rundown on the Mentor-Protégé Program, showing us how smaller businesses can partner with mentor organizations to pursue joint ventures that both parties may normally have been unable to pursue.  He outlined the many benefits for both mentors and protégés and showed us exactly how to kick off and succeed with a partnership.

  1. Follow the ALERT process to get your capture process off to a flying start!

Cynthia T. Weinmann, CP APMP talked us through how to start with the customer’s needs, especially if we can’t meet with them directly. She talked about how our approach should be Actionable, Lean, Empirical, Realistic and Targeted – making sure we know the essential information, how we can get it and how we can use it.

  1. Use the DE-DUST process to avoid letting your strategies go stale!

If you’ve ever spent hours developing strategies that end up collecting dust on your shelves, Irene Trujillo, CP APMP and Kailey Wulfert, CF APMP have the solution! Their five-phase DE-DUST process helps you ensure your strategies are actionable and impactful by guiding you from assessing whether a strategy is even needed all the way through to celebrating success and refreshing it for the future.

  1. Use active qualification to boost your chances of winning!

Lorraine Baird, CPP APMP and Graham Ablett, CPP APMP gave us a tour of the tools they use to make their qualification process active and banish that familiar feeling of dread when an RFP drops. They confided in us their secrets to being prepared when it comes to qualifying and giving themselves the best possible chance of winning opportunities.

  1. Know the ABCs of selecting a value-add strategic partner!

Marie Jarabak and Debra Clark, CF APMP talked us through the importance of building intentional and carefully-constructed strategic partnerships. Their unique version of the alphabet gives a step-by-step process to selecting partners: Assess your businesses, Bundle your research, Conduct an analysis, Don’t rush the details, and Evaluate the partnership.

  1. Transform and become a game changer with enterprise AI!

Mitsuhiro Seto, CF APMP set out a value journey for enterprise AI, giving us insights into the progression paths we should take in order to create value by incorporating AI into our organizations’ operations. He gave us a cheat sheet for developing a strategic approach and shifting our cultures towards data-driven decision making.

  1. Using capture tools should be a dynamic process!

Jack Bailey, CF APMP discussed effective use of capture tools, and the common tendency to conduct certain analyses once as a box-checking exercise. He posited that using capture tools to continuously refine our approach, from the beginning right up until submission, will help us produce better-developed solutions.

  1. A great presentation is impactful in the moment and memorable afterwards!

Steve Gavatorta shared his insights on how we can build a compelling presentation using a five-part storyboard process. He showed us how to drive a narrative, emotionally connect with our customers and lead them to the point where they can’t say no to us.

  1. Get comfortable with your discomfort, and turn your challenges into opportunities!

Heather Kleinpeter discussed how detrimental it can be to get too comfortable in less-than-ideal situations. She showed us how conducting honest assessments of the challenges within our organizations, and embracing the discomfort we feel, can help us build and achieve truly transformative goals for success.

  1. Creating a position to fit a need can help you build capture from scratch!

John Quyen Wickham, CP APMP shared his experiences of building a capture process from scratch in an academic research institution that didn’t have an established capture function. He talked to us about how to adapt the business development lifecycle and best practice capture processes for our specific organizations, including how to take advantage of our organizations’ priorities.

  1. Find out the events your competitors are going to and make sure you’re there too!

Jennifer Saha emphasized the importance of figuring out the events that matter and investing in them. Fine-tune what you’re delivering at these events by listening to your audience and marketing yourself as a stellar option to your clients and customers.


That wraps up CBDC for another year! We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of our wonderful speakers and our dedicated attendees. 

Remember, you can still register here before December 15 if you want to hear our speakers’ insights.

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