APMP BPC 2022: The Year of the Proposal Professional

APMP BPC 2022: The Year of the Proposal Professional

Cheryl Smith
23. Jun 2022 | 3 min read

APMP BPC 2022: The Year of the Proposal Professional

Last month, May 22 – 25 in Dallas, Texas, another incredible APMP BPC brought us together. I was lucky to attend and fortunate to present, and the people I met and the sessions I attended spoke loud and clear; proposal work is a profession. Just ask the organizations who attended for the sole purpose of recruiting APMP members.

This is very different from where I first began my proposal journey in 1998, sitting in my office, minding my own Knowledge Management project business when my VP said, “Hey, I want Cheryl to manage this solicitation.”

Back then there was no proposal team and no proposal process, even at the large IT organization I worked for. Reviews were done with paper and red pens, WordPerfect was still a thing and we had to carefully time production so we didn’t overheat the printers and miss our deadline. Along the way, I’ve seen technology change our industry for the better, and a whole host of opportunities still lie ahead.

But 20+ years on, I’m excited to say, I’ve witnessed my first newly minted graduate choose this profession. For the first-timers and the pros, we were excited to do our fair share of sharing this year too, from our client panel who shared how new technology is increasing their productivity and reducing their stress, to how database-driven solutions are helping teams deliver higher quality documents 70% faster.

A couple of other interesting observations from our team’s experience this year include:
  • Either we’re getting older or proposal folks are getting younger. APMP’s Young Professional’s Affinity Group is giving back and making a difference.
  • 21st century innovation requires 21st century collaboration. Just ask the proposal manager seeing better results from weekly Friday reviews in parallel with writing.
  • Working remote has made us more civilized. Collaboration at a distance may be challenging, but dependence on physical proximity can undermine collaboration.
  • Mental health is part of the conversation. Now we need to develop and share tactics for keeping our teams, and ourselves, healthy. Just ask the attendees who were working on proposals while attending the conference.
  • Networking was on point. I rarely saw a quiet lunch table, the Tara was a high rolling chat-fest, and local chapters were in the mix everywhere, building local relationships attendees could take home with them.
  • Proposal teams remain the center of collaboration, working across team boundaries every day. The key is collaboration. And knowing how best to collaborate across team boundaries.

If you managed to catch my session on Wednesday, you heard about my top five most cringe-worthy proposal experiences and how they helped me confront some norms and change some behaviors. When asked, “Raise your hand if you’ve missed a special occasion,” one attendee raised her hand and said, “Graduation.” Another asked, “Did you really charter a plane?” Yes, yes I did, and before credit card points were a thing, darn it.

Until next year, keep calm and proposal on!

Related article: Meet Xait at BPC Dallas!

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Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith has been writing and managing proposals since 1998. Shipley trained, she has helped establish proposal centers and advised on capture strategy, coached orals teams and lead marketing, communications and knowledge management programs. Cheryl is a graduate of The George Washington University with degrees in Theatre, Communications and Literature. When she’s not sharing her passion for work, she loves drawing, writing, cooking and exploring the Virginia woodlands with her husband, their dog Chase and the fuzzy guests they host for Rover. She recently joined Xait’s Customer Success team as part of their acquisition of Privia.

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