How Common BD Personalities Align with the World of Harry Potter

Last year I posted an article series comparing the cutthroat environment of Game of Thrones to the familiar world of business development (BD). The show is about a web of alliances and conflicts among the various parties involved—all of whom are seeking to gain control and power. In the series, I noted that within the world of business development, it is much the same. Various companies are competing against one another for work—each wanting to gain more and more control and power over their sector(s). Within these organizations, individuals are similarly fighting for power and control—some with the company’s interest at heart, and others looking out only for themselves. And within this world, we develop a web of partners and competitors—both at the individual and corporate levels.
Following that series, I received requests from a few avid readers to post a similar article comparing business development to the world of Harry Potter. It took me a while to catch up enough with the book…

Four Ways Proposals are Like Songwriting: How to Get from Good to Great

As many of you know, I recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee—otherwise known as Music City. The other day, as I walked along Broadway (the main strip in Nashville), I stopped in to listen to the different bands and artists. As an English major in college, I have long appreciated the similarities between songwriting and poetry writing, but this time, as I listened to the various artists with my new perspectives and experiences, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between a great proposal and a great song.
1. A Great Song (and a Great Proposal) Connects with the Audience When you hear a great song, you typically connect with it emotionally. If the song about is about a broken heart, and it connects you to a time when you had a broken heart, you’ll be connected and interested. Similarly, if a proposal can successfully connect an evaluator to their pain points about a current or upcoming contract, they will be connected and interested. This is why the capture phase is so cr…

Proposal Evaluations: Five Strategies to Score Higher

As we enter a new proposal season, many of us are looking to find ways to improve our proposals and win more. As we look for areas to focus our improvement efforts, it’s helpful to remember that in the vast majority of cases, proposals are scored, not read. Therefore, as bidders looking to win work, to maximize proposal performance, we should aim to help evaluators award us as many points as possible. This article presents five easy ways to focus your content so that it scores higher.
1. Take Time to Understand the Customer The first real step to scoring higher is understanding your customers and their needs—and it is critical to take the time to understand the customer needs before the RFP is released. Remember that building a relationship with your customers and understanding their underlying concerns takes time. Without solid customer relationships, you won’t have the opportunity to understand their programmatic concerns or determine what really keeps them up at night.
2. Define t…

Five Proposal Resolutions for Increased Win Rates

As we head into 2020, many of us are making our New Year’s resolutions. I have some professional goals that I’m working towards—including continuing with these blog posts—as well as some overall health and wellbeing initiatives that I’m pursuing. On top of these more individualized goals, another goal many of us have for 2020 is increasing our win rates. Here are five resolutions you can make this year to help increase your overall win rates.
1. Start Earlier One critical thing you can do to increase your win rates is start earlier. Long-term planning provides corporate awareness of upcoming opportunities aligned with strategic goals.Once opportunities are targeted, Capture Managers should begin gathering customer, opportunity, and competitive intelligence. 
Remember that building a relationship with your customer and understanding their underlying concerns takes time. Without solid customer relationships, you won’t have the opportunity to understand their programmatic concerns or det…

Proposal Reflections: A Year In Review

I started my blog on January 1, 2018 with as simple welcome post:

Welcome to Proposal Reflections. This is a project that I have put off for several years, but I am hopeful that it is a site that others in the field will find useful. Stay tuned for my first real post, which will feature some useful tips for proposal writing success. Here's to many wins in 2018! Happy New Year!

I had great aspirations for the blog in that first year; however, the year got away from me, and I only posted six articles that first year.
This year, as part of my New Year’s resolutions and goals for 2019, I wanted to establish a rhythm with the blog, some consistency. I set out with a goal to post one blog article a week. That’s 52 articles—all unique, all about proposals, business development, and/or capture. It was a daunting task—but I decided to tackle it one week at a time. I didn’t quite have the rhythm down in the beginning—it took me a while to establish the right cadence. But I persevered, and h…

Proposal Reflections: A Look Back In Time

Being a part of the APMP NCA Chapter Mentor Protégé program this year was such an invaluable experience. I learned so much from my protégé and from the other mentors in the program, many of whom have been instrumental in the growth of APMP. As part of our end of year white elephant gift exchange, I received a copy of the Spring 1999 edition of the Journal of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, which in today’s technology driven world has evolved into the online publication of Winning the Business. What is so special about this particular journal edition is that it looks back on the history of our profession—from the vantage point of 1999!
The 1950s and 1960s: The Age of the Secretary As I read through the journal, I was fascinated by the proposal practices of the past, particularly those called out in one article, “A Personal Look Back…at Events, People and Organizations That Shaped the Proposal Development Profession,” by Tom Boren.
Boren’s article chronicles the

Three Ways to Finish the Proposal Year Right

As we approach the end of the year, the proposal season tends to slow down for us here in the US. We are busy preparing for the holidays, so we might use this lull as an excuse to surf the internet and catch up on holiday shopping. While it is critical to take advantage of downtime to rest and rejuvenate, I encourage you not to waste the entire month away, especially if your workload is light. This end of year lull is a great time to close out the year right and make sure we start off next year’s proposal season strong. This week I discuss three ways to finish out your proposal year right.
1. Conduct Lessons Learned and Update Your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) As the year wraps up, take a look at your lessons learned debriefs from the last year or so and analyze them for trends. Look at common themes and share those trends with your team. Understanding these trends will not only help you to improve in the areas that may need some work, it will also allow you to pinpoint the th…