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APMP delivers the best in industry education for its members, and it’s no different at this year’s BPC. Education sessions, panel discussions, and other industry-focused learning opportunities were in full force at the conference’s official first day. These sessions—some of which we highlight below—led by a cadre of highly involved leaders, did the work of centralizing the talking points of an industry continually striving to improve.
How to Win and Influence People
Moderated by Kristin Dufrene, CPP APMP Fellow, strategic capture, executive director, CACI International Inc.
Hélène Courard, director, global proposal center, Unisys Corp.
Ashley Kayes, senior proposal consultant, AOC Key Solutions
Jay McConville, CEO, Privia
Based on Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win and Influence People,” this session focused on building relationships and influencing people at all levels of an organization to foster trust and a winning culture. Kristin Dufrene led the session with a short analysis of the book and turned the focus to panelists to discuss these topics and field questions.
Hélène Courard enthusiastically offered her insight on a challenge many in this industry face: working through proposals with your team that aren’t in your team’s wheelhouse. “The proposal is the battle. The war is the revenue and the business outcome,” she said. “What moves the needle is consistent growth. … If you can’t win the battle, win the longer-term war.”
As the conversation switched to the sometimes-contentious relationship between capture and proposal professionals, Ashley Kayes had resonating thoughts. “Some of the best proposal efforts happen when proposal managers get involved with capture early,” she said. “If you can get in with them, become their friend, be in it together from the start—you’ll put yourself in a better position.”
That conversation evolved into a discussion more focused on culture, something Jay McConville was eager to touch on. “Create your own inside stories and jokes,” he said. “Get to know your employees, know who they are. It builds trust.” He cited GIFs and memes as good mediums for keeping things light.
Courard summed up the discussion best: “The key thing to take away from this session? Don’t be afraid to check yourself. … You need to collaborate and listen.”
Creating a Proactive Small Proposal Shop
Moderated by Kevin Switaj, president and CEO, BZ Opportunity Management
Lauren Daitz, CF APMP, senior manager, proposal department, HALO Recognition
Debi McGhee, independent proposal consultant, DLDM Consulting LLC
Priscilla Swain, CF APMP, senior manager of proposal development, Casenet
In another fantastic interactive panel, this group discussed transitioning from being reactive to proactive when responding to RFPs. This workshop was geared toward one-person proposal teams.
Overall advice was shared from the panel on maintaining solid content and planning workloads. Being proactive was highlighted as the key to successful bidding, which, in turn, can enable companies to further their growth.
One attendee asked, “How do you advocate in your company for growing your proposal team?”
Lauren Daitz delivered the response of the session. “Own your importance in your company and be assertive,” she said. “Leverage the best practices of APMP. There are resources that show what your workload should be. There have been times I’ve walked up to my boss with a printout from APMP’s Body of Knowledge and said ‘This is what we should be doing!,’ and they have really respected me for that.”
Think Like the Evaluation Committee
Presented by Morgan Barker, senior proposal manager, All Native Group
This morning session’s half-presentation, half-workshop was so popular that there was standing room only.
Participants divided into evaluation committee teams and were assigned roles to practice reviewing sample proposals in the way that an actual review would be conducted. Groups presented their findings and were asked to justify their choices.
The discussion helped attendees learn how to put themselves in the shoes of their evaluators to help them transform their proposal writing process.
“The session went very well,” said moderator Morgan Barker. “It was a great discussion and learning opportunity amongst proposal professionals.”
Practical Design Tips for Non-Designers
Presented by Bruce Farrell, APMP board member and proposal manager, Plante Moran
This session focused on practical design tips and principals to create better business documents—simple designs to convey ideas clearly.
That was one of Bruce Farrell’s key points: Many times, less is more. He conveyed that proposal professionals can use this knowledge to create effective designs within proposals to better communicate pitches to customers. He spoke to that philosophy and outlined helpful, basic design principals based on human psychology, providing examples of how to use it in your work.
With each example, Farrell explained how the human eye and brain process visual forms, and offered easy ways to implement that understanding. “We process the world visually and seek patterns in what we see,” he said.
While Farrell stressed to never copy somebody else’s work, he advised attendees to look at what others have done and let that serve as inspiration. “If you surround yourself with good design, you can’t help but have it trickle through to your work,” he said.
Last but not least, Farrell emphasized the importance of communication. Make sure your team is on the same page and implementing design through a collaborative effort.
WORDMAN: The Ultimate Word Q&A Workshop
Presented by Dick Eassom, vice president, corporate support, SMA Inc.
In an early afternoon session, Dick Eassom offered attendees the opportunity to ask questions about all things Microsoft Word. As most proposals rely on the use of Word (or its modern and close relative, SharePoint), participants were eager to learn some tips and tricks to better their knowledge of the program.
Questions revolved around everything from formatting tables of contents, templating, commenting, and more. Eassom delivered responses through visual demonstrations, going deep into advanced settings, showing attendees the value of building blocks, and offering other takeaways for using Word more efficiently.
Attendees undoubtedly left with a more thorough knowledge of Word and its nuances.
Small Group Networking Event
To close out the day’s sessions, members found their “tribe” during this unique networking event, BPC’s first. Attendees chose which group they wanted to join based on different industries and topics.
Group focus areas ranged from business development, international growth, graphics in proposals, one-person proposal teams, and more. Conversations evolved from best practices to sharing the worst pieces of business advice they had ever received.