The place for proposal people

Bid RAGE!!

Put down that knife and step away from the laptop
When “bid rage” strikes

By Sharon Pink 

Good afternoon, says the online Bid Portal.  Submitting your proposal is just a few clicks away!  With our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide, your 125 sections and sub-sections will be with us momentarily!

Oh no, not only is this portal LYING to you, it’s also using bad grammar. And you’ve only just started.

Please follow these simple verification checks. Enter your supplier code and password. Thank you. Now enter your submission code and password. Thank you. Now enter your bid code and password. Thank you. There is no record of you on the supplier list. Goodbye.


OK. Calm. Forget the portal for a while. Write your troubles away. Get stuck into a Solution Overview. High-level, scope for some elegant prose, targeted at the customer’s hot buttons but showcasing your strengths, while skimming over the troublesome details that the technical experts  will cover. Finish the section with a flourish, notify everyone it’s done and now you can hand it over to whoever is picking it up to do the detail.  Except…

Good afternoon, says your Technical Manager. 

Nervous smile. Oh no. You can tell what’s coming. That “whoever is picking it up to do the detail” has gone missing. Gone to ground. Hiding under a duvet. Volunteering for root canal treatment. Anything rather than write the next bit….


OK. Calm. Forget words for a while. Seek refuge in numbers. Numbers are good. Numbers are cool. Numbers don’t let you down….

Good afternoon, says your Financial Analyst. 

He’s done the costings. His spreadsheet is a triumph of complex formulae, captions and commentary. Fantastic, you say, ignoring everything except the box labelled “bid price”. Now, does this meet all their criteria? Oh yes, he says, it covers everything: bottom-up, top-down, consolidated and contingencies. Split these numbers any way you like, you won’t break this calculation. What a relief, you say. So now: is this the price to win this bid? Oh no, he says, we can’t win at that price. We can’t win? No, it’s about 30% over what we think their budget is. I see, you say, dabbing at your forehead. Do we make any profit even at your 30% over price? None to speak of, he says cheerfully, looking proudly at the neat but empty profit column. Well, not immediately, he corrects himself, seeing you looking fiercely at a large paperknife.  Year 10 perhaps?


OK. Calm.  Stabbing at your screen with that paperknife wasn’t the answer, was it?  Settle down with the burned-out remnants of your laptop and seek help.

Good afternoon, says the IT Help-is-at-hand answer service.  

Press Zero if you hate us. Or press one if you really can’t fix it yourself. And there’s only zero or one because we’re IT, we’re binary… and by the way, don’t press anything, we’re out.

OK. Calm. Don’t add IT Rage to your Bid Rage.

As someone memorable (I forget who) once said: “I don’t have a solution, but I admire the problem”. Let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon that is Bid Rage

First, be completely comfortable that Bid Rage is never ever your fault. It is always always caused by the incompetence, insanity or inebriation of someone else. This should make you feel better.

Second, because all proposal professionals think that they have learned over many years that not everything can go wrong at once, accept that you will always be surprised at the things that can, will and do go wrong all at once, without warning and notwithstanding any preparation or preventative actions. This should also make you feel better. As proposal people it is what drives us, excites us and keeps us coming back for more….

And third, because proposals are really all about people, as long as you have the right team around you, the team you have developed and grown over the years and know you can rely on, all will be fine. Except….

Good afternoon, says your HR Manager. 

What’s that in her hand? It’s your staff list. With some names crossed out….