By Steven Coles, CPP.APMP – Manager, Customer Success
There were few handshakes to be had at BPC Europe, and even fewer hugs. No faire la bise. No kunik. And certainly no Glasgow kiss! Instead, elbow knocks, fist bumps and foot taps were the greeting van de dag.
These are strange ways to greet friends old and new, but, these are strange times. And strange times revealed these fun, new icebreakers to c.200 delegates from the Netherlands, France, Ireland, UK, Norway, Germany, Romania, and further afield. So, with a tap, a bump and a knock, APMP’s inaugural European conference was underway at Amsterdam’s impressive Beurs van Berlage conference centre.
For those unable to join us in Amsterdam, or if you were there and would like to reflect on memories from a fab event, here are three takeaways and tips on how to put them into practice.
A masterclass in meaningful metrics
In his session “Targeted Metrics to Drive Business Winning Success,” the incomparable Howard Nutt (Executive Director of the Business Development Institute), shared his insights into strategies and tactics to connect the things that bid and proposal professionals do – every day – to five key metrics that resonate with the C-Suite. And, critically, how to make them meaningful to the C-Suite.
To do this, Howard explored tactics that drive forward-thinking, outcome-based metrics, and then linked them to the essential, maturing, and corporate-grade strategies observed through his research.
Unsurprisingly, our old friend win rate received top billing… as did the special problems associated with it! It’s a lagging indicator. It’s easy to measure, but not quite as easy to define, influence or improve.
As is Howard’s way, he shared his findings freely and with great zeal, providing a packed Graanbeurszaal with practical ways to attach real meaning to this much-maligned metric through the application of, for example, lessons learned and root cause analysis to improve future performance.
Tip: Howard and the BD-Institute share their knowledge in publications for purchase, and in free resources. Learn about metrics management, proposal best practices, and more here.
Two chief executive officers walk into a bar…
…well not quite a bar! But, we were very happy to welcome to the stage Andy Hough (CEO of the Association of Professional Sales) and Rick Harris (CEO of APMP) for an audience-inspired session entitled “Bidding and Sales – Better Together!”
The centrepiece of this session drew on terrific research, by Chris Whyatt of Get To Great, into the working relationship between the sales and bid functions. This 40-minute fireside chat setup encouraged APMP’ers to share the wants and needs of the bidding community with the objective of forging closer ties, fostering closer collaboration, and driving success for both functions.
Respect (mutual), education (continuous), and value (for all) were quickly identified as table stakes. Foundation established, a lively discussion ensued with Andy reflecting on “a wonderful shopping list of ‘asks’ from the bid management community in the room.” The commitment was made to co-create a path to convergence – distilling the key messages from this APMP session and blending them with equivalent output from an APS session.
Exciting times ahead for all members of both associations!
Tip: It is incumbent upon us as proposal professionals to take the initiative and extend our support beyond the walls of the proposals centre. Join your sales colleague’s next customer call. You bring a valuable, unique perspective that is tuned differently to most. You will hear (and say) things they may not. Besides, an extra pair of ears never hurts!
What could be more of a differentiator than wearing a scarf… indoors?
APMP introduced a new concept for the conference at BPC Europe – the story slam! With its roots in Chicago’s poetry slam events of the mid-80s, story slam treated day one delegates to five short, sharp and impactful sponsor presentations highlighting the impact of their services on the bid and proposal industry.
At 13:52 CET, Jamie Davies – avec scarf – took to the stage to deliver an authentic, five-minute, fact-laden slam that proved Upland Qvidian’s credentials as the premier technology provider to the industry. Jamie’s slam also highlighted the power of the firm as a trusted advisor through a unique set of consulting services. This unique blend of technology and services is a powerful, transformative differentiator for Upland Qvidian’s customers. Très chic, Jamie!
Tip: Maximising the value of RFP and proposal software is not just about automation, it’s about improvement! Beyond the technological capabilities of software, consider the strength and depth of consulting services available to you from your software partner before, during, and after implementation to ensure you drive long term value from your technology investment.
A very special event
The first APMP BPC held outside of the United States, BPC Europe 2020 was 29 years in the making. Rick Harris shared this milestone with all APMP’ers, made even more special through the presence and anecdotes of APMP Fellow, and member of APMP’s first board of directors 1990-91, Howard Nutt. Truly an exceptional moment!
BPC Europe 2020 marked the last time, just for a short while, that the bid and proposal community will gather for such an event. But we’ll be back. Our association is more forward-thinking, innovative and resilient than ever. And that makes me #ProudToBeAPMP.
About the Author
An APMP member since 2002, Steven is driven by helping bid and proposal professionals succeed in their work, and thrive in their career. As Upland Qvidian’s Customer Success Manager, Steven is focused on making our customers wildly successful, helping them to win more business, more efficiently. Steven serves the APMP UK chapter as Vice Chair & Technology Director, and serves the international bid and proposal community as a member of APMP’s board of directors.