To coincide with the opening of APMP's conference earlier in the month, Strategic Proposals announced the upcoming publication of our new book. 'Passionate About Proposals' brings together our favourite entries from the past twelve years of this blog. Keep your eyes peeled for news of the publication date. We're both really excited! - Jon & BJ
Posted by Jon and BJ
We're delighted that, after taking a break from blogging, we're back!
To those of you who followed us before, when we posted between 2006-2014: it's great to see you again. Did you miss us?
And to new readers: welcome! I guess we owe you an introduction. 'The Proposal Guys' is written by Jon Williams and BJ Lownie. We're the principal directors of Strategic Proposals, an award-winning proposal management consultancy, in the UK and US respectively. And we're both Fellows of APMP - the Association of Proposal Management Professsionals.
This is our space for exploring topics about bids and proposals that interest us - and which we hope you'll find thought-provoking too. You'll find there's much the two of us agree on - and some fun to be had in those few areas in which BJ's still wrong. Which, coincidentally, are those in which BJ thinks Jon's wrong!
We've been busy since we last posted. If you want to read about some of that, you can head to the Strategic Proposals news page, or follow us on Twitter (@ProposalsSP and @BJLownie). And we've seen a lot of you around at events and conferences anyway!
But you'll find that whilst our work with our clients - and our wonderful team of colleagues in SP and our partners around the world - informs much of what we write here, it's not our main subject matter. Neither of us is a salesperson, and neither of us feels comfortable with such blatant self-promotion. We hope instead that we'll share some of our passion for proposals, and in doing so offer ideas, inspiration and a little amusement. Sometimes we'll provide answers and advice; often we'll just share things that catch our imagination and (perhaps) pose questions. And we'd very much welcome your input and comments.
See you around, very soon – we promise!
Posted by Jon and BJ
There are lots of textbooks out there for proposal professionals. What we’ve always thought is missing is something that explains the key principles of the proposal process for the folks with whom we work – salespeople, subject matter experts, senior managers… So, lo and behold, here comes our attempt to fill that gap!
We’re delighted to announce that our new book, “Proposal Essentials”, is now available on Amazon. (Click here for the UK, here for the US, or search your local country site). Written in the straightforward style you’ll be used to here on “The Proposal Guys”, with plenty of quotes from proposal teams around the world – and weighing in at an easy-to-absorb 128 pages – we hope you’ll find it useful in disseminating best practice:
We’re both really proud of the book – and hugely grateful to our designer, the incredibly talented Ciara Gilsenan, for her excellent work on its layout.
If you’ve already picked up a copy at one of the autumn conferences at which we’ve presented, do let us know what you think in the comments section on this post!
By the way – if you want to order multiple copies, we can ship them directly to you at a discount. A fair few organisations have already ordered copies for all of their salespeople and content contributors, for example. Just email us for more details via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Jon
OK, so we’ve been quiet here for the past little while – but with, we hope you’ll agree, good reason, as BJ and I have been working away on our forthcoming book. We’re currently putting the finishing touches to ‘Proposal Essentials’: I’m working with our designer Ciara today, and our proofreader’s standing by. The book is scheduled to appear over the summer – and I’m sure we’ll be bringing you more details nearer the time!
We’re also very much looking forward to Bid & Proposal Con in Atlanta at the end of the month. Our topic, inspired by a certain best-selling book? “50 Shades of Great”:
Is proposal development a pleasure – or is it painful for you? Are your proposals compelling, creative and dynamic – or merely grey? Does your organization take a disciplined approach to proposal development -or does your team need to be whipped into shape?
We’re still debating quite how far we can push the topic. Props? Audience participation? Suffice it to say that I’ll be in Atlanta a couple of days before the conference starts, and have been tasked with buying grey ties for us both before BJ arrives in town…
Posted by BJ
At the upcoming APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2012, to be held in Dallas May 22nd-25th, I’ll present several sessions. One of the sessions I’ll present is, “The Proposal Whisperer – Training Sales and Subject Matter Experts and Rehabilitating Proposal Professionals”. This session is an encore presentation of a session I presented at the APMP Noreasters’ annual Symposium, where it was one of the most well attended, entertaining and talked presentations at that conference. Part of the reason for that was my co-presenter was my dog Jack, whom I’ve mentioned in several previous posts, and he’ll be my co-presenter for the session in Dallas as well.
During this session I present the concepts and techniques I use when training and working with Jack. Concepts like respecting attention spans, playing to strengths, positive reinforcement and understanding motivators. Jack and I will demonstrate how we put these concepts into practice as he and I go through the many commands and tricks he understands and performs. We’ll even demonstrate how we learn a new command together and teach the participants how then can teach their own dog, or perhaps a co-worker, a trick or two.
Jack and I hope to see you in Dallas and that if you do attend the conference you’ll join us for our session. Woof!
Posted by Jon
Last month, BJ and had some fun during our keynote opening the second day of the UKAPMP conference by finding out about the group’s collective experience. With 200-odd people in the room, our spot survey revealed that between us:
Meanwhile, our company (Strategic Proposals) has been celebrating ten years since our UK business was founded. A few of our friends from client organisations joined us for a small dinner in London last week; Steve Mullins (who chairs our board of directors) and I were hugely honoured to receive a truly lovely message in absentia from Rene Schuster, CEO of Telefónica Germany, marking the occasion: click here to download and view the video if you’re interested and have a minute to spare. It certainly made us feel very proud: watching it for the first time was a very special moment.
Posted by Jon
I’ve been travelling pretty extensively lately, spending four nights at home in the past four weeks, amidst extended work trips to locations including Egypt and Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur over the weekend prior to running an APMP Foundation course, I browsed Time Out (the listings magazine) looking for somewhere good to eat.
This place sounded fun:
“The best Italian restaurant in Malaysia”, no less. Impressed? I was, until I noted the footnote in small print – ‘as voted by the owner’s mother-in-law’! Now, the humour made me smile, But it’s an interesting illustration of the power of a proof point: something so important in proposals.
Awards won, benchmarking data, comments from clients, quotes from the press or from analyst reports – they all help to bring your story to life. And our research suggests that evidence and references that substantiate your claims are highly prized by evaluators. And, of course, it’s not unknown for companies drawing on analyst reports in their proposals to have commissioned the very research they’re quoting in the first place!
PS You might have noticed that our planned summer break ended up being a little longer than planned! Sorry: we’ve been having some interesting technical challenges with the blog database, including a string of scheduled posts that simply didn’t appear. We decided to step back from posting until it was fixed – which it now hopefully is (says he, crossing his fingers!)… Thanks for your patience.
Posted by Jon
We want your money! Not for ourselves, you understand (although that’s always nice!), but for an even better cause.
Our colleague Richard Jenkins is bravely making a parachute jump on 29 June in aid of Help for Heroes, the charity that helps wounded ex-services personnel.
Many of you will know Richard, from his work with us at Strategic Proposals or through his APMP activities (including his spell as last year’s Chief Exec of UKAPMP). This is a charity that’s particularly close to my heart, and I’m delighted he’s chosen to raise funds for them; the Strategic Proposals team here in the UK has already pledged a £1,000 contribution to support him.
Please, please do consider sponsoring him – we’d be extremely grateful for any contributions, no matter how small or large. You can click here to make a donation. Thank you!
Posted by Jon
As you may have seen in a previous post, we’ve been running a survey over the past quarter into bid/proposal managers’ views of the RFPs that we receive from buyers. We’ve had a fantastic response to this, with significant numbers of contributors from across the world.
Our Dutch colleagues have now created an online version of the survey form, and we’ve extended the deadline until the end of December. So if you’d like your voice to be heard, please do click here and complete the survey online.
Posted by Jon
The APMP conference in South Africa last week was the second major event I’d addressed in the space of a week – following hard on the heels of what, to my mind, was the best-ever UKAPMP annual conference. (Huge congratulations to Ken Erskine, France Campbell and the team for attracting 270 delegates to the two-day session).
During the event, we announced the winners of the UKAPMP Proposal Design competition, which we’d sponsored. There were several contenders for the award – including Arqiva, Bid Management Services, BidPerfect, Canon, Colt, DocumentGenie, Lloyds Banking Group and Siemens Enterprise Communications – and some truly excellent entries.
The prize was captured by Lloyds Banking Group – and Andy Lyons is seen here on the left receiving the trophy from Strategic Proposals’ Consulting Director, Graham Ablett:
The cover of their winning entry – a proposal submitted to Commerzbank – is below (reproduced with permission):
Andy also shared another of their proposals with us, and I thought the front cover of that one (to brewer Fullers – main product, London Pride beer – was even better):
Congratulations to all of the entrants. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a similar competition at the APMP worldwide conference? Perhaps I should chat to the organisers…?
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BJ Lownie and Jon Williams are the co-founders of Strategic Proposals.