Two Envelope System

I could hardly believe it. I was dismayed to just hear that the ridiculed 2 Envelopes System was still around.

Even when I took my Enterprise Sales baby steps three decades back, it was mauled by many encountering it as a method of madness.

Procurement Departments would insist on a specific bid delivery rubric.

Any hopeful vendor must deliver a pair of envelopes. With your name on.

Envelope A had all the techs 'n specs. The nuts and bolts of how they satisfied the stated needs. Feature by requirement.

It was a large and thick envelope.

Envelope B had but a single piece of paper. The cost. The deliverable's of Envelope A's price tag.

It was a wafer thin envelope.

The process was basic.

The envelopes would be separated. Two piles. One for the As. The other, Bs.

The B hand would be removed, and put somewhere discreet for safe keeping.

A bid assessment team would be given the As.

They then read through them, and on the basis of their perceived appropriateness to the upcoming purchase, would themselves make two further piles.

Those that could do the job, against those deemed to be unable to do it.

The latter, the 'failures', would have their bid duly returned, along with their unopened Envelope B.

Then for those 'successful', their Envelope As would be opened.

The winner? The smallest number revealed.

Yes. After all that, it was a game of lowest bidder wins.

To add insult to the art of the solution seller, there are plenty of anecdotes about sinister goings on.

For one thing, it was whispered that a trusted aide would be required to nip to the kitchen. Pop on the kettle. And whilst the Bs were being pored over elsewhere, steam open all the As. Able to be re-sealed later to their state when first gummed down.

You may judge for yourself the tales of how often a bid at first declined would suddenly re-appear when a 're-check' took place. And strangely prevail as the cheapest deal tabled.

Worse still, are the stories where, a short time after delivery of said 'victor', the offering was exposed as being completely unsuitable for fitting the need.

Too late. Locked in. Yet no accountability followed. As responsibility lay at the door of The System. And who didn't like the sound of the Two Envelopes?

There's a ton of info out there on the cheapest never being the 'best'.

Indeed, within many a solution sell, even with two seemingly twin-type suppliers, it can be nigh on impossible to compare apples with apples anyway.

And there's the perennial Parkinson's Law style Sales setting. Where any quote somehow expands (or contracts) to meet the size of given budget.

Perhaps the greatest sin of this particular procedure, is that it guarantees a fixation on a bar being reached that actually bears little resemblance to both the price required to get there and value that ought be realised by traversing even ever so slightly beyond it.

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