Next week sees the 22nd APMP annual conference, taking place in Denver. I’m particularly looking forward to the event, as it marks the tenth consecutive year at which I’ll have presented at the conference – a record for a presenter based outside the US, I would strongly suspect.
1. “Do not make war unless victory may be gained thereby; if there be prospect of victory, move; if there be no prospect, do not move.” (Qualify, folks!)
2. “To be late, and hurrying to advance to meet the foe, is exhausting.” (Pre-proposal planning matters: let’s plan for success rather than merely responding to RFPs)
3. “These things must be known by the leader: to know them is to conquer; to know them not is to be defeated.” (How clear are you with your sales teams on the information they need to dig out before you start work on a proposal?)
4. “The army that conquers makes certain of victory, and then seeks battle. The army destined to defeat, fights trusting that chance may bring success to its arms.” (What a fabulous endorsement of the need to work out your proposal strategy before you start to write)
5. “If a victory be gained by a certain stratagem, do not repeat it. Vary the stratagem according to the circumstances.” (We need a specific strategy for every opportunity – and simply cutting and pasting the Exec Summary from the last deal isn’t good enough!)
6. “The wise man considers well both advantage and disadvantage. He sees a way out of adversity.” (That’s why the APMP accreditation syllabus puts so much emphasis on the Bidders’ Comparison Matrix)
7. “In general, the procedure of war is: the Leader, having received orders from his lord, assembles the armies.” (Hey, we’re working for the sales organisation, right - supporting them as they seek to win business. To an extent, we need to know our place).
8. “As a rule, the soldiers prefer high ground to low. They prefer sunny places to those the sun does not reach.” (Yep, motivating the team’s pretty important)
9. “Universal courage and unity depend on good management.” (Ever seen a dysfunctional proposal team, with everyone pulling in opposite directions…?!)
10. “We create a situation which promises victory; but as the moment and method cannot be fixed beforehand, the plan must be modified according to the circumstances.” (How relevant to the ever-changing world of managing proposals)
11. “If victory be certain from the military standpoint, fight, even if the lord forbid. If defeat be certain from the military standpoint, do not fight, even though the lord commands it.” (A controversial one, this – does it encourage rogue bidding? Not necessarily one I’d want to share with salespeople, but an interesting insight into their mindset!)
12. “As has been said: “Know thyself; know the enemy; fear not for victory.” (That’s proposal strategy in a nutshell!)
13. “To fight and conquer one hundred times is not the perfection of attainment, for the supreme art is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” (Hey, if we can avoid getting into a competitive tendering process in the first place – writing pro-active proposals, especially seeking to renew existing contracts, then so much the better)
14. “He who does not employ a guide, cannot gain advantage from the ground.” (Training for all participants; coaching; mentoring – all key to success)
It promises to be a great conference: if you’re lucky enough to be attending, do come and say hi!