During a one-on-one coaching session, someone asked if I would like to be the first
salesperson in or the last if our organization was bidding on a project or sale.
That’s a difficult question, but a very important one. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, and the answer also depends on whether you’re working with an existing client or a new prospect that’s given you the opportunity to win the business.
When you’re trying to close a deal and you’re the first one in, your organization has the opportunity to make a solid impression and convince the prospect that there is no need to look any further. You can try to close the deal on the spot and walk out the door with a signed contract.
Even if that’s not an option, if you’re first you should ask for “last look,” which means you’re requesting the prospect or customer doesn’t make any decisions without giving you the opportunity to revisit the deal you’ve proposed and make one final pitch.
One of the big disadvantages to going first is the prospect may be determined to meet with other companies and use your proposal as leverage, which prevents you from closing.
When you’re the last one in, you’re in a position to leave the last impression and reinforce the fact that they must not have been too impressed with anyone else or they would have bought already. And, I’m never afraid to ask to see the other estimates so the prospect can make a fair comparison.
The disadvantage to going last is that they may have already decided to buy and are just giving you a courtesy appointment so they can claim they’ve reviewed all the options. Unfortunately, in that case, the decision has already been made and you have an uphill battle reversing it to get a fair consideration.
In short, there is no right or wrong answer. With either case, your job is to close the sale. The difference becomes the tactics that you use to get the deal done. When working with your sales team to ensure they meet or exceed your company’s goals, don’t let position become a distraction, deterrent or excuse for your team not getting the job done.
Marvin Montgomery is an author, speaker and sales training consultant at ERC, where he has assisted hundreds of organizations in improving their productivity. You can ask the Sales Doctor a question at SalesDoctor@ercnet.org.