Ok. We are about to get our Google on and have some fun.
Here's what I would like you to do. Click on the following links and search for the word "coin." Do yourself a favor and read the surrounding paragraphs.
Pennsylvania Methods of Awarding Contracts.
CA Department of Forestry and Fire Protection needs a literature review.
Arkansas Procurement Rules plainly stated.
Washington State Department of Engineering and Agricultural Services breaks a tie.
Apparently They Do It In Canada Too. More on that in Canada.
All right. Enough links. If you want more entertainment, search "coin toss and elections."
What did you find? If two companies bid for work, and they tie, government settles the tie with a coin toss. Let me share how I found these links.
The other morning I sat down to work on a California State Request for Offer for a client of ours. This proposal looked like any other government solicitation. Long. Dry. Contractual. Boring, to be frank.
And then I came across something that made me laugh out loud.
"In the event of a tie between lowest cost or highest scoring bidders, a coin toss shall be conducted in the presence of witnesses. Bidders will be invited to witness the coin toss, in addition state staff witnesses will also be present." (Punctuation is theirs, not mine.)
I couldn't believe it. In 12 years of writing proposals, a coin toss to break a tie never occurred to me. I laughed and laughed. Then I sent the quote around to friends in this business and we all guffawed in disbelief.
I almost wrote it off as the prank of a disgruntled California employee, but had to write a blog this week. So, instead, I did some research and pulled the links above.
Unfortunately, proposals cost thousands of dollars -- most of the time, tens of thousands -- to produce. They take a lot of time too. Deciding the fate of a tie on a coin toss seems ridiculous.
The coin toss got me to thinking. Companies produce proposals at great expense to win business. If winning can become a 50/50 chance in a coin toss, we should fully consider our approach -- not to mention our investment of money and time.
When something like this strikes me, I often revert to thinking about exceptional people, those who help get my head out of the sand. A couple of quotes that came to mind for the coin toss were:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not the daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity." From Bruce Lee's book the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. (See the Bruce Lee connection?)
"It is vain to do with more what can be done with less." William of Ockham
In the business world, we tend to accumulate. Write more. Bid more. Ask more of our people. Spend more. I'm embarrassed by the resources dedicated to the pursuit of money through proposals. Why spend $250,000 on a full-time proposal staff, when you could do the same work or better for $120,000?
You may think - what's $130,000 in most businesses? Not much. But here's the thing. You may hold a $10,000,000 contract this year. It doesn't mean you will hold it next year. Or, you may think that you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning a particular bid, but you just might surprise yourself.
Get the gist? Proposals take a lot of work, with no guaranteed outcome. So, best to make the most of it.
All the talk of knowing the customer. Beating competitors. Getting the price to win. Having the best-of-breed talent (why do we use the term best-of-breed?). You could have it all, and still lose. Someone may have a friend on the inside.
So, what's a girl to do? Stop writing proposals? Throw in the towel?
Hardly. Get smart. Bid more. Win more. Increase the odds, by increasing the quality and volume of your output. If you're wondering how, give us a call.
We'd love to talk with you about your proposals. Don't toss your wallet and weekends off a cliff. 15 minutes is all you need to simplify and get better.