At this point in my professional life, I’m comfortable saying that I’m a seasoned conference attendee. I’ve been to countless other marketing conferences, from Dreamforce by Salesforce to the “SiriusDecisions and Gartners” of the world.
Heading to Orlando last week happened to be my first time attending APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con (BPC). After many years of being the conference pro, I suddenly became the conference rookie. Seeing this proposal management event through a rookie lens was both eye-opening and inspiring.
Maybe you attended the conference and you’re ready to reminisce, or you didn’t attend and you’re curious about what you missed. Either way, I’m excited to share some of the insights and moments I experienced at BPC Orlando with you today.
How APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con is a conference unicorn
Sales and marketing exhibitor events tend to focus heavily on selling products and services. I won’t say none of that was happening at BPC in Orlando, being that our own team had booths where we gave demos of RFPIO.
However, the main difference between BPC and the other conferences I’ve attended was the emphasis on bettering the proposal professionals themselves. As usual, we ran with that educational focus in our booths as well. Because at the end of the day, proposal management professionals are less accepting of sales pitches and name-dropping. They want to learn how to improve in their roles.
Another thing that makes BPC unique is that it is one of the rare opportunities when proposal management professionals come together in one room—without being surrounded by 10,000 marketers and salespeople marketing and selling to them. Instead, they can focus on connecting with their peers and sharing knowledge about the day-to-day life of a proposal professional.
The expansion of proposal management thought leadership
As the proposal management industry expands, so do the thought leaders within the space. Not even five years ago, it was challenging to find resources and camaraderie. Thankfully, APMP has been leading the charge. Now an increasing number of proposal professionals are getting involved, sharing their expertise to help the entire community.
Some of the must-see BPC presentations came from RFPIO’s circle of friends, including:
- Writing AUDACIOUS Content: Winning Proposals with Confidence – A lecture by our client, Lori Coffae, Content Writer from SHI
- Realistic Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules – A lecture by recent RFPIO webinar guest presenter, proposal graphics expert, and Principal of 24 Hour Company, Mike Parkinson
- Lessons from the Mouse: Adding Creativity to the Proposal Lifecycle – A lecture by friend, industry expert, and CEO of BZ Opportunity Management, Kevin Switaj (Check out Kevin’s government RFPs podcast here.)
- Creating a Proactive Small Proposal Shop – A panel moderated by Kevin Switaj, featuring our clients—Lauren Daitz from HALO Recognition and Priscilla Swain from Casenet—both Senior Managers in their proposal departments.
My colleague, Chris Pulley, attended the Creating a Proactive Small Proposal Shop session. Both Lauren and Priscilla shared their experience with using a response management platform and how RFPIO has saved them an immense amount of time.
An attendee asked about the best way to start with response management software like RFPIO and Lauren had some great advice to share: “We had the same dilemma…we weren’t sure when to begin the process. The only advice I can give is that you should start!”
Demystifying AI and the future of proposal management
We keep hearing “AI is coming, AI is coming,” but the fact is that the future of proposal management is happening. Our clients have been using artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in the RFPIO content repository already.
For those unfamiliar with these capabilities, there is a lot of mystery around AI as a whole. During BPC, I presented on the Leveraging AI for Persuasive Proposal Writing panel, and the audience discussion was really interesting. There was a big debate about what AI really is and what it means for modern proposal management teams.
The conversation turned into the need for digital transformation in order to leverage some of these upcoming AI innovations. People who are not yet using a response management platform have not started digitizing their process. And, they’ll have a really hard time adopting any of these AI technologies.
Like the BPC audience, you’re probably wondering how long it will be until proposals start writing themselves. Well, we can’t predict where AI is going to be over the next ten years. Most immediately in the next few years, AI will be used mostly to do the repetitive things you don’t want to do, in addition to the ability to handle high volumes of data analytics.
Imagine a team of humans going through 20,000 of your previous proposals, connecting the dots between selections and outcomes. One BPC attendee popped up and said this analysis would take 30+ years for his team to complete manually.
So, AI isn’t replacing anyone’s job. AI is giving you the opportunity to accomplish things you couldn’t before.
A hunger for knowledge and preparing to evolve
Again and again, from conference attendees and the APMP team hosting the conference, I heard the same thing. There was an immense hunger for more knowledge about how technology will evolve the way we manage proposals.
People wanted to see what products were out there and they listened attentively during demos. We’re just starting to see the early adopters in this industry, the bell curve in terms of technology from proposal management teams.
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in technology solutions that specifically empower proposal professionals. People are ready for it and they’re learning everything they can about these products to find out how they will benefit and improve.
The BPC experience is all about a passion to improve
I’ll sum up the way I felt when BPC ended in a single word…excited.
While sitting on the long flight back to Portland, Oregon, I still felt excited about the general sense that everyone was at BPC to better themselves. They truly want to make themselves and their companies successful.
They were passionate about improving their proposal management teams, passionate about accepting and making changes with processes and technology, and passionate about supporting each other. That kind of passion is exciting to see—and I can’t wait to see it again at the next APMP Bid & Proposal Con.