To finish our week of proposal war stories from our panel, perhaps my favourite of an excellent bunch, from Lesa:
The one I will never forget was a long time ago for a large government bid. I had worked late several nights in a row, in our office that was under construction at the time. So amidst sawing, hammering and open ceiling tiles, there I was licking construction dust off my lips at 11 p.m. working on this enormous bid thinking, “This sucks!”
Of course we came down to the deadline and the V.P. was still making changes, literally standing over my shoulder saying, “Type faster!” as I was scrambling to make the changes (I was so young and naive!).
Of course we knew were going to miss the FedEx cutoff so the account executive was going to drive the proposals (10 big binders) to deliver them to the client (one state and a three hour drive away). The drive included trekking through the Sierra mountains during winter.
Of course an hour after he left, we were told that we needed to make yet another critical change to the pricing of all things! Somehow we were able to get ahold of him via cell phone (although cell service was terrible where he was in the mountains). Did I mention this was before email was widely available? So out in the boonies (we’re talking Tahoe National Forest area) he somehow managed to find a “mom & pop” store that had a fax machine, so we faxed the new rate sheets to him.
Fortunately his wife was travelling with him so she was able to rip the old rate sheets out of the binder and put the new ones in while he continued driving in blizzard-like conditions! The proposals were due at noon and he delivered them at 11:52 a.m. To add insult to injury, we did not win the business. Go figure. : )
Of course I am now (much) older and wiser. The silver lining to this story is that we now have solid processes in place to prevent working late hours on a regular basis and we involve everyone in the process from the beginning to minimize last minute changes. It usually works. : )