Monday, August 3, 2015

Wendy has Left the Building

Hooray! Hot off the press and just about to be launched after putting the project on the backburner for more than two years, nFold finally has a new website in the making (still at

And I now have a brand new blog site See you there.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If it's worth's worth doing a spell

My mom told me that if something is worth doing then it's worth doing well. Larissa Cornelius must have had the same advice because she has now won nFold's proposal award for excellence no less than THREE years in a row. Our judges are UK Proposal Rock Star Jon Williams, US Proposal Guru Tom Sant, and our own Proposal Queen Sandy Pullinger. They unanimously agree that Larissa has what it takes to win. So this year nFold gave her a cheezy trophy to recognize her outstanding achievement. I asked her to take a selfie for my blog. I'm sure she's hiding a magic wand somewhere, because this is the best selfie I've seen in a long while - plus both her hands are showing.

nFold announced the results of the local proposal manager salary survey at the APMP event in September. Can you believe that the average proposal manager is female, 43 years old, with 9 years of proposal experience, and is highly likely to live in Gauteng and be permanently employed? At the ripe old age of 314, I guess I may bring up the average age a bit...which reminds me.
Hooray, I finally made it out of my box on my birthday. I took this picture of the Standard Bank proposal team at nFold's story board master class. This year's finalist in nFold's proposal award, Tracy-Ann Damons is on the far left, toasting my health with the team. Happy Birthday to me!
In the middle of the picture is Sandy's new mentee, Alicia Sibanda. She's the very first learner to take part in the job creation programme that nFold, EOH and APMP have started. She went along with Sandy to the book launch for 'The Climb' by KK Diaz, now safely returned from Mt Kilimanjaro. He says he climbed the mountain with no money and no experience to rob people of their excuses. Hence the hash tags.
Sandy loved the book so much that she got KK to share his lessons learned as the guest speaker at nFold's breakfast, in aid of his charity E4+C (entrepreneurs for positive change). She bought 100 books for KK to donate to a school so that he could share his message with the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and he matched her donation by speaking at another school too. What a wonderful person...KK doesn't need a wand to make magic.
At the Spring Breakfast, Sandy spoke about how proposals create jobs. It was a sparkling event with scintillating company. So, alas Sandy had no excuse to dress up as the archer queen from Clash of Clans like she did for the APMP Conference. Her topic was 'strategies that win' and her analogy relating it back to the addictive online game kept everyone awake after lunch.

She re-used the costume to go trick-or-treating at Halloween. I bet she got a lot of candy. I love that purple hair!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hocus pocus in the Absa tender team

When I visited the Absa tender team I told them we would create magic with words and cast my opening spell on them......Cistem Pandorum!!! They told me that they plan to improve their proposals by focusing on five things:

  • Executive Summary
  • Persuasiveness
  • Effectiveness
  • Language and
  • Overall Impact 
I picked up a few problems in their proposals and I thought the Wendy Word magic would help them to remember, so I cast another spell ....Magicus Mordus. We agreed that they needed to make some changes. I told them:

"Your Proposals are too lengthy and too technical. We need to simplify and write in “client language”. Your Table of Contents needs to be shorter with Heading levels clearly indicated. You need to focus on the Customer’s needs/requirements rather than including too much product specific content. You need to mention the customer’s name more than yours. You need to make the proposal more personalised with the names of consultants rather than just talking about a team. You need to include a conclusion or summary section. Include Case Studies. Because the Executive Summary is the introduction to the proposal it needs to be eye catching and makes you want to read further. Include a value proposition. Use Strong creative titles."

At first they were flabbergasted but soon rolled up their sleeves to fix the problems. I told the Absa team that being more persuasive in their proposals is like making a brush scrub the floor all on its own. My spell words are Auto Rubbum.

Their tips to my readers based on their proposal experience are great:
  1. Don’t change the order of the questions and do not rewrite them. Follow instructions in the RFP.
  2. Repeat the questions as written in your response, and thenanswer it in a different format. Use bold or a different colour.
  3. Include a compliance matrix at start of response or for each section.  Rate yourself in terms of “exceed”, “fully complies”, and “partially complies”. Evaluators love this compliance.
  4. Do not send your reader off to another part of your proposal to find the answer. Never answer” answered above” or see section 3 for the answer.  You come across as lazy and inconsiderate.
  5. Answer the question and answer it each time they ask it.
  6. Focus on what the client cares about first, not on your product or service details.
  7. Clients are interested in what our products do for them not how they work.  The text can be too technical and too product focused.  We need to engage them immediately.
  8. Use Tom Sant's A-P-S format for important answers
    A= Acknowledge that the question is significant
    P= Make a persuasive statement about what you have done in this area
    S= Substantiate with details
  9. Weave your value proposition into your answers and include key differentiators. Tie the business or technical need to the value or outcome you are delivering in explicit language.
  10. Keep the writing simple and clear. Average sentence should be around 15 – 18 words.
  11. Provide time to edit answers written by subject matter experts. The problem with product experts is that they use product names and in house jargon.  They don’t realise they are confusing customers.
  12. Watch your tone. Keep it friendly and avoid answers of “yes”, “no”. Give more information.
  13. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
Lucky 13. The list gets my vote! The Absa team said they really enjoyed my proposal magic. I told them I will visit again soon and then blew myself away with the wind using my magic words...Veni Veni, see you soon.

Working on Workers Day

Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana. I blinked and 6 months flew by on my broomstick. Christmas came and New Year went. The Easter bunny hopped, the tooth fairy did her stuff and April fooled none of us. And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. Here I am, working on workers day - if you can call writing work.

Yet, life in the proposal world still rocks. nFold's clients won some big bids lately. One of the deals in the banking industry involved the transfer of 738 people with zero jobs lost. nFold helped our client to turn around a likely loss into a winning bid.

“You went the extra mile. Big bidding is a specialized field and without expertise in this area you setting yourself up for failure - in any battle you need a strong team. I would prefer to have you on my team than my competitors.”

So the mood of celebration is in the air. Bring on more big bids and we'll be ready to sparkle!

Talking about sparkling, nFold recently hosted an event to announce the results of a sales execution survey and launch the latest release of Qvidian proposal automation. As autumn blossoms in SA, the spring release from Qvidian in the US promises even more time saved with a brand new interface that's even easier to use. Come along to our online demos and live lab session in the coming weeks to learn more. Be there or be square. Click on one of these links to register...

Online Demos:


Live Lab at nFold Office:

Sandy got her beach fix last week but she left me behind. How rude! I do hope she lets me out to play again sometime soon. The local APMP chapter is hosting an all Africa round table event on 13 May at Aurecon's offices in Pretoria. Maybe if she takes me along I'll be adopted into a bid team again. Who knows, I might even get to go on an African safari. Watch this space while I brew my magic.


Okay you can stop watching the space and come back again later. Still working on getting out of this pesky box. I seriously need a new wand or some more newts for the potion. Bye for now.

Friday, October 4, 2013

On top of the world

I recently flew to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with one of nFold's best proposal champions, KK Diaz of What a lovely young man! And so clever too.

KK decided to treat his climb as a business venture and create a documentary about the experience to inspire other entrepreneurs to succeed. Now that's the kind of project that nFold is proud to support. Sandy spent some time on candid camera to explain proposal basics. And nFold made our first ever cash donation to the project. In the past, we've donated our time to worthy projects like this, but at last we can afford to put some money towards growing the future. Keep on walking KK.

Meanwhile, back at the proverbial ranch, Team nFold continues to sparkle. Dheshnee, Graham and Janet all passed their APMP Foundation exam this week, bringing the total number of bid network members to achieve this global badge of honour to 14 of the 30 consultants in our network and almost one fifth of the total in SA. Plus, Sandy Pullinger has now trained 37% of all local members certified at foundation level and ALL of them passed. WOW!!! I stand on my broomstick amazed. Onward and upward. Sandy tells me she's decided that nFold people sparkle. And if they don't sparkle then they're probably not nFold people.
As we gallop towards the end of the year, nFold has planned so spend a day at the pool in early December to celebrate a big year. We're growing fast and have the scars to prove it. Rather than buying tacky gifts for our top customers, our plan for year-end is to pack a Santa's shoebox for each of them, take a photo and make a beautiful card for each one. Shhhhhhhhh! Don't spoil the surprise.
Maybe you want to put a smile on a poor child's face too this year. If you want to join the fun, be sure to pledge a shoebox here: There are 100,000 kids in the mix and almost 7,000 still without a shoebox. Show you care. I know we do.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

It’s always a good thing when you get a chance to visit an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while.  So what a treat when I got a surprise invitation to visit Scylla Gardiner at her new home-away-from-home, Paracon.  I flew in and parked my broomstick next door in the Nicolway shopping centre. Handy, very handy!

Scylla tells me she joined Paracon (part of the Adcorp group) in February this year to formalise a bid management function for the company and several of its subsidiaries.She's been learning a heap of new tricks, even if she seems to be quite a young rascal.

So, there we were, sitting chatting about the challenges (and fun) of setting up processes, creating new proposal templates and guidelines, getting to know many new brands and the general excitement of starting something new when all of a sudden Scylla pulled a rather strange face…

Why the face, you may ask yourself? I know I did! The realisation had suddenly hit Scylla that, even though she’s been in the proposal writing game since before the continents drifted apart (I personally didn’t realise she was THAT old), she is still learning something new about bids and proposals every day. I assured her that this is a very good thing and I’m sure you would all agree. That put her mind and her face at rest.

After the four compulsory cups of ‘bid management fuel’ (also known as coffee) and lots of talk about concentrating on improving both proposal quality and our own skills in the proposal profession, I had to unfortunately take wing.  Us witches have quite the social calendar. Until the next time...let’s remember to keep on learning those new tricks. Woof!  Wag! Pant!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The winds of change are blowing

Someone's moved my cheese again. I do wish it would stay in the same place for just five minutes!

The great philosophers say that the only constant is change, but they also say that the more things change the more they stay the same.

So which is it? For us at nFold, change has become a habit now. But I now want to leave my broomstick in the same place for a while, to gather a nice bit of dust.

"So what is all this change" I hear you ask, "and how does it affect the wonderful world of proposals?" Well here are the big 5 changes of 2013 so far...stop the world I want to get off!
  1. Next Generation - In April, Anastasia Bizos was born, so Fiona is on maternity leave - with chicken pox, as bad luck has it. Kalli Manitsa has taken over public training co-ordination and Janet Ward has picked up the onsite training.
  2. So long Theresa - In May, nFold director Theresa Monoyoudis succumbed to a 7 year itch and went on sabattical to help her son through matric next year by accepting a marketing job at his school. We miss her, but I do have an excuse to see her at board meetings once a month.
  3. Hello Network - Our new Theresa is called Dheshnee Naidoo. She's doing a great job so far of filling a very big pair of high-heeled shoes. The nFold network has grown to 30 people now, and we welcome new consultants Madi, Florence and Eric.
  4. New Digs - In June, nFold moved into new offices. We now have 10 floating desks and a humming bid back-office. Reminds me of bedknobs and broomsticks. More space has brought our team closer together. We're in the groove! Onward and upward.
  5. Buds of May - May Bradshaw has become a director of nFold. In the last 18 months she's been moving and shaking things up for us, big time. Congratulations May, and welcome to the little boy melon due to arrive in September. Another son of nFold is on the horizon.

Life is a peach in Georgia, as Sandy discovered when she went to the US APMP conference in Atlanta at the end of May. We're rather proud of her for being the first African to serve as a global board member in 2013/2014. Sandy had dinner with proposal star Jon Williams one night and with her all time hero Tom Sant another night. Lucky fish! I'm miffed that she forgot to take me along. But I guess I'll get over it. She bumped into 3 other South Africans at the conference, so at least she had company from someone who could understand her accent. She says that she learned a LOT, hooked up with old friends and made some new friends. What could be better?

I recommend that anyone who wants to learn more about proposals should come along to the local APMP conference in July. Visit to find out more. Sandy will be putting a fresh spin on the time-honoured traditional topic of writing executive summaries, as only she can. Seats are selling fast, so hurry to book before you miss out on all the fun.

Talking about fun, here are some of the 19 people who achieved the fun fun fun Foundation Level APMP certification with Sandy's help this year. As a Strategic Proposals trainer, Sandy still has a perfect pass record. I can't believe they cut me out of the photo. At least I was comfy on Reshma's lap. The total number of people in South Africa who have achieved one of the 3 levels of internationally recognized certification has now reached a whopping 71. Proposal people rock! I really enjoy hanging out with them. Even if they won't let me appear on their photos. Sniff.

nFold's new stratgy seems to be on track. To improve teamwork we now have Training Tigers with Tiger Mother Annatjie Jonker leading the way - spreading the proposal gospel according to Saint Tom. We have Skills Scorpions headed up by Janet Ward finding jobs in our brand new business venture called Bid Skills for Africa. Dheshnee Naidoo is taking on the Software Swans to grow our Qvidian customer base and Sandy is keeping an eye on the Consulting Chameleons to make sure they don't fade into the background.

Never a dull moment at nFold. I think I'll start up my own business unit and call it the Wicked Witchy Wordsmith Wombats or something. Just so that there's a place for little old me. Watch this space as I insert myself into the next photo to appear on this blog. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flying off the handle

I'm not angry, but I literally flew off the handle of a camera stand at the Executive Summaries master class that nFold hosted in February. Here I am with global proposal star Jon Williams who presented the session. Glowing praise flew in as fast as my broomstick.

"The energy was great. Content was relevant and plain excellent."
"Straight to the point.  Lots of passion."
"Jon was fantastic. Content was relevant."

Jon taught us all about the role of executive summaries, how to structure a good one, and touched on the sections of proposal related to the executive summary. He used some great examples and stories to bring the show to life. If the executive summaries in your company suck, it's a pity you missed out on this one.

nFold really made the most of Jon's time in sunny SA. He presented on the topic of "Auditing Proposal Quality" to the local chapter of APMP. The benchmarking technique he showed us is easy to implement and very effective.

Jon also mentored Sandy to become an accredited trainer for APMP Foundation level under the banner of Strategic Proposals. 6 more people passed the foundation exam, bringing the total number of local APMP members to achieve this globally recognized standard, up to more than 50.

Jon had lunch with a bunch of people from the nFold bid network before heading back to snowy London. Brrr! I bet he misses the sunshine.

And now for something completely different, to quote Monty Python. I haven't seen much of Sandy or Theresa lately. They've been up to all sorts of mischief. nFold has projects waltzing in so quickly that Johan Strauss would have a hard time keeping up with them. They were even too busy to move into new offices. So I never got a chance to paint those walls. Sigh. Maybe sometime soon...

I finally caught up with Sandy helping new customers use Qvidian. She took me along to her latest Qvidian training session. Here I am, getting up close and personal with some of the delegates. I bet their proposals are whizzing out of Qvidian as fast as you can say Wendy Word.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ha Ha Ho Ho Hee Hee Hee

'Tis the season to be jolly and the laughter of the man in the red suit is rather catching. Fa la la la la. I've been twirling around on my broomstick at high speed for a few weeks, spreading proposal magic here and there. And now it's time to celebrate not only the end of the year but our glorious successes. Bring on the bubbly!

In October, Sapphire Logistics won a bid to provide fulfilment services to one of the largest oil companies in South Africa. nFold was given a proposal to check and transform over a weekend in August. We improved the readability statistics, edited the executive summary and enhanced the layout within less than a week. “There is no doubt that a large part of our success was a result of nFold’s ability to turn a good proposal into an incredible proposal. Thank you for your amazing work on such a tight time line. The final result was even better than expected.”, said Graham Wooding, MD of Sapphire Logistics.

Another reason to celebrate, is that Jon Williams, Proposal Star Supreme, will be visiting South Africa in 2013. Jon has worked live proposals with many big companies in countries around the world. Anyone who saw his keynote address at our first ever local APMP conference in 2010 will remember Jon's quirky British humour, charisma as a presenter and his experience in both procurement and proposals. I do hope he brings my friend Proposal Panda to visit us again. He eats shoots and leaves but is great company all the same.

Check out this Youtube video of Jon in action in 2010 and watch this space about his 2013 visit:

Last but not least, nFold has had such a great year that we're ready to move into a bigger office. One small step for nFold, one giant leap for proposal magic. All our systems bounce around in the clouds, so the move will be more virtual than physical. But do take note of nFold's new switchboard number: +27-10-125-0123. And make a point of popping in for a quick potion as soon as we've settled into our new digs. I'll be painting the walls bright colours. Let me know if you can think of better colours than azure, chartreuse and tangerine. I bought some rainbow stockings to match. Watcha think?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wendy is a broad

I mean Wendy goes abroad of course. Although, I did lose my heart to a handsome fellow, mysteriously called Qwin. I went to the Qvidian conference in San Diego with Theresa Monoyoudis, via New York.


I met such an enthusiastic bunch of proposal automation customers saving time on proposals. So I'm ready to spread the gospel according to Qwin. He says users save an average of 44% of their time on proposals and win 38% more. Wow! No wonder he swept me off my broomstick.

I returned to South Africa to find that nFold has been quietly growing while I was away. There is such a buzz in the office, and I didn't even have to cast any spells for it to happen. Sandy Pullinger says she's delighted to have so many bid network folks filling her shoes. I'm not sure why anyone would want to wear her stinky shoes, but it's great that the larger than life poster is not the only Sandy clone floating about. Watch out Dolly!

2012 has been a bumper year for nFold so far. Everyone seems as hungry to win as we are. Our portfolio is bursting with proposals and bids galore. And customers keep coming back for more. Our strategy is to fly this year and our dreams are coming true. There's room on the broom for more so bring it on.