Wild Cards Can Delude You

An attendee at one of our proposal writing seminars stated that her company calls blind bids on FedBizzOpps solicitations "wild cards". Every once in a while when the stars line up correctly they play a wild card and they won one last year. An example scenario might be:

There were no proposals being written at the time.

The company was very qualified to meet all the requirements of the RFP.

A win would meet a critical strategic goal of the company.

Our position that you should never bid blindly on a FedBizzOpps solicitation is general and there are always exceptions to a generality. But we would stress that they should be rare and done with your eyes wide open. In other words, knowing that you probably won't win.

Also keep in mind that winning a wild card bid can be dangerous. Sales people want to bid everything; their job depends on winning and they have a tendency to believe that every opportunity is winnable regardless of the customer relationship. Most experienced proposal managers want to write only winners based on customer relationships. These opposing positions can come up in almost every bid/no bid decision. A wild card win can tip the scale to bidding too much. The sales manager might argue for a blind bid saying: "remember that blind bid we won back in Agency X", not mentioning that it was in 1999.

Wild card bids are fine as long as you don't let them influence current bid/no bid decisions. As our mantra goes: poor bid/no bid decisions will drain your company of its expensive, precious proposal resources and you will end up in a downward, losing spiral.

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