People often ask me when it is best to present when competing in a proposal process . . . first, middle or last. The answer, if you can arrange it, is last. The reason is based on something psychologists call the “recency effect.”
According to the recency effect, when two people are talking, assuming they are both listening, at that point they are retaining close to 100% of the information being exchanged. However, when they shake hands and depart, that retention begins to diminish . . . quickly. Within minutes, both people are focusing on other things and retention starts dropping. 25% in the first hour. 50% by the end of the day. 75% in a few days and so on. Meanwhile, here comes your competitor the next day. If you compare your retention graph to his, it’s not pretty. He is now top of mind with a 100%, real time retention rate and you have dropped to, perhaps 50%. At that point you can only hope your competitor is not a very good salesperson.
So it pays to go last if you can, and if not, be sure to follow up your presentation immediately with material or phone calls to reinforce your key points and get your retention graph back up above your competitor’s. That really goes for selling in general. Follow up is critical and that is not just common sense. All research shows that staying in touch, constantly, is the only way to keep your buyer’s memory sharp and his retention of your product’s benefits at peak levels.
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