Does it pay to be last?

lebreton image

Marketing consultant Andrew Houston offers this tip, primarily geared for residential contractors:

TIP #1: Be the last contractor to quote the job!

Think about it: when prospects review three contractors, on average, over the span of a week or two, who are they most likely to remember? When you’re the first or second contractor to show up at their door, they’re not going to hire you on the spot; they’ve already committed to seeing all three to compare price and fit. I’ll bet you they will remember the last one they met, so that’s who you want to be. Being last also gives you leverage as to what the other guys were quoting— some prospects will open up just enough to give you insight and an upper hand to position yourself beyond price.

It is an interesting idea, and might make sense, but:

How can you be confident you will be “last” and (more importantly), is there a possibility (probability) that the decision-maker may select someone else before concluding the process?

this is one of those tips where I would like to see some science behind the assertions.  Looking in another context, consider these observations from Allison Green in Inc. magazine. She was answering a question about job interviews; obviously a different circumstance, but essentially the same issue:

You’ll hear all sorts of theories, like it’s better to go first so that you’re the bar against which they judge everyone else, or that it’s better to go last because they’ll remember you more. But none of it really matters. If you’re a great candidate, they’re not going to forget you, and if you’re not a great candidate, it won’t matter anyway. Schedule interviews when it’s most convenient, and don’t worry about trying to game the order.

In this context, I think Green is correct. The key for your presentation success is your preparation, knowledge, and of course (ideally) whether you have built previously a positive reputation/recognition with the potential client. If you are first, middle or last, your goal should be to raise the bar so high that the competitors simply cannot match you and won’t have a chance, regardless of the interview schedule.