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Your proposal will bomb with the wrong discriminators

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In Proposals

The other day I received the oddest proposition from a well-dressed man wearing a sharp business suit.

He got quite animated.

Him: “Psst…You want to hear an old girl howl?”

Me: “Er… Not really, thanks anyway”

Him: “She’s a corker”, he went on. “Leaks like an old rust bucket, terrible ride, hear her coming long before you see her, now on her last legs”.

I was too puzzled to reply.

He went on to tell me, surprisingly given how he described her, that he is her greatest admirer! I kept thinking this was the strangest way to tempt me into taking an interest in someone who was clearly mad, bad and dangerous to know – until I realised what he was talking about.

The howling old bird has a rather exotic name – XH558 – and is the last of her kind still flying – a dinosaur from the early nuclear age, an Avro Vulcan B2. Still no wiser? Well, if Fred Flintstone needed a nuclear bomber, he and Barney would choose this.


Here’s the link to hear her taking off. Apparently it is her signature howl.

This got me thinking about discriminators.

The real point about a discriminator is that I, as the buyer, have to value it. If you happen to be ex-RAF, of a certain age and go misty eyed when reminiscing about the wonderful days of the cold war, you may think XH558 is the best thing since sliced bread. You may ‘get’ the discriminators. However, if, like me, you prefer your crockery to stay on the table, small children not to scream hysterically and skittish cats not to hide in your washing machine when the old girl saunters by overhead, these discriminators may be as welcome as an update to Microsoft Word.

The point is, how many of us get our trusty discriminators out of the bid cupboard when a new opportunity comes along. We dust them down and present them as proud parents, thinking our audience will lavish the same loving devotion and acclaim on them as we do. The truth is often very different.

Discriminators are not beliefs.

Discriminators are not life-style choices.

Discriminators should be prodded and tested regularly (preferably, with the customer) to ensure they are fit for purpose for the opportunity. Otherwise, you may be offering some very unsavoury and unwanted Christmas presents.

So, next time you ask someone if they want to “hear her howl”, check their membership of the ‘Vulcan in the Sky Club’ first.

Bid management and howling old ladies…whatever next?

P.S. There are many thousands of avid supporters who pay for the upkeep of the old lady. In truth, there is something quite beautiful about her, is it those lovely delta wings…but before I turn misty eyed, let me urge you to go see her. She retires this year. Forever.

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