So, the client invites your team to come in and present your proposal. There are four slots available during the day. Given the choice (and you might not always be), should your account manager:
a) Beg to be given the opening slot
b) Plead to be allowed to present last
c) Not worry too much, but avoid the post-lunch siesta slot at all costs
d) Relax, put their feet up, and not care where they are placed in the running order?
I’ve discussed this a few times now with my good friend Grant Widlake, a friend whose an expert on sales processes, when we’ve been working on projects together. We’ve arrived at the following rule of thumb.
We’d go first if we were particularly confident of having the best story to tell (to set the bar high, shape the evaluators’ perspectives, and so others pale into insignificance in subsequent comparison)
However, we’d choose to go last if we felt it might be a closer race, since the audience would then be comparing us to the best of all of the previous bidders. In other words, we’d already (subconsciously at least) be down to the final two under consideration, the best of the earlier presentations having taken the other competitors out of the race. Moreover, any questions after the presentation might be more focused, giving us a greater chance of addressing any concerns that the evaluation team might have.
And we’d avoid the middle slots like the plague!
There’s some interesting academic research that’s tangentially related to the debate, though. I’ll post about it more in the next week or two.