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Champion Insights: Bids and Proposals with Ashley Kayes

Want to learn more about the Bid, Capture, and Proposal world? Look no further! Here are some insights that will help our public sector sales pros learn from one of the best.

How long have you been working in Bids and Proposals? 13 years

What is the most satisfying part of your job?   

I love being able to make a positive impact for the organizations I support. Proposals are so dynamic, and the requirements and challenges are always new and different, and I really enjoy being able to solve those problems and help my clients develop winning proposal content. The best efforts are when we can start early, understand the customer, and really develop and articulate a solution that meets and exceeds the customer's needs. And, of course, it's always extremely satisfying when you get to celebrate the wins!

What have you done to be successful so far in your current role?   

I've been really lucky to have had some great mentors from whom I've been able to learn so much. I've shadowed these individuals, asked them for advice, listened to their feedback, and applied their recommendations so that I could grow as a professional. One of my first mentors recommended becoming involved with APMP, and that step really helped me to learn about business development, capture, and proposal best practices, as well as how to succeed in the industry. APMP also helped expose me to some amazing thought leaders and has provided a platform for continual growth and development.

What is something you wish others understood about the importance of Bids and Proposals in today’s market?   

I wish that more executives understood the importance of the capture phase and how those efforts should directly impact their bid decisions. One of the most important things that drives the proposal strategy is customer understanding and knowledge of the competitive landscape. If the company hasn't had a chance to do their homework, it will be very difficult to develop a compelling and competitive proposal, so the chance of winning in most cases is very low. In these cases, it's better to no-bid that opportunity so that resources can dedicate their time to other opportunities where the chances of winning are greater.

What advice do you have for your peers in similar roles around the world?   

In this profession, it's so important to have a thick skin and not to take any feedback negatively. Self-reflection and communication are so critical, and if you don't feel comfortable gaining clarity from the person who provided the feedback, consult with a trusted friend or advisor. That individual can help you make sense of the feedback to understand whether it is actually valid, and if so, how you might be able to address it. I have found that so often, the way people express their thoughts is not always their actual intent, and by simply following up with them for clarification, you can learn how to continually improve yourself professionally and really excel.

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