The Second Sale

Confession:  I’d be lying if I told you how to start selling your service or product.  There are way too many bullets flying and way too many variables for a one-size-fits-all style of selling.  My advice to folks is always the same, “put on your favorite tennis shoes and start running.”  Depending on your product or industry, it may take cold calls, walk in meetings, international travel, networking through blogs, or plain dumb luck to get the ball rolling for sales.  As long as you are willing to work hard, work hard, work hard, work hard, and tackle challenges head-on, you should be fine.

That said, I can tell you a heck of a lot about how to make the “Second Sale.”  What is the Second Sale?  It’s when you earn the undying loyalty of your customers and while you won’t ever make the Second Sale without having made the initial sale, the Second Sale will be MUCH more vital to the success of your company.

The customer’s initial purchase will be made completely on perceived value in relation to cost.  More explicitly, the initial purchase will occur when the person with the checkbook says, “Hm…the value of this product or service is greater then the cost…this will help my business/life in a way that makes the fiscal expense justified.” However, the Second Sale will take place without any exchange of money yet will rely completely on the real value of the product or service.  The Second Sale occurs when your customer or client is having a problem and you fix that problem.  How you respond to your customer’s needs AFTER they have given you money will be the main determinant in how long they remain your customer.

Think about the products to which you are truly loyal.  Without seeing your list I can tell you the characteristics they embody.  The products to which you are loyal are no doubt (a) consistent in quality (b) reliable under stress and (c) easily fixed/solved when you have an issue with them.  If at any time these qualities become compromised, the customer is much more inclined to look at alternate available options.  When Coke changed it’s formula in the 1980’s, all hell broke loose as market share started to erode.  They quickly remedied the problem with great success, but quality (a) was compromised, so customers began looking elsewhere.  In the tech world, most famously, Dell’s previously high-rated customer service was outsourced to foreign countries leading to a customer backlash that the company is still dealing with.  (In all fairness to Dell, my opinion is that the issue exists as a result of long-waits, foreign resentment, and language barriers much more then the skill-level and ability of the customer service representatives answering the phone in Mumbai.)

The Second Sale is the one that will make your business flourish.  It’s the tipping point where your “customer” becomes an “advocate.”  It’s what makes them tell their friends, “you know, I had some shady spending on my check card and when I called Wells Fargo, they took care of it right away without any question.”  It’s what makes the person say, “I’m buying another Ford truck from Fred’s Autoplex because when my work truck broke down last winter, they went above and beyond to get it fixed quickly.”  The Second Sale is what makes customers stay with you when your competition comes calling.  “No thanks, Vonage.  I know my AT&T long distance may cost a little more each month, but it has always been reliable and the customer service is good.”

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about how to get your foot in the door.  But once you’ve got a seat at the table, the Second Sale will make you a welcomed guest.  When a customer has given you money, your relationship is just getting started and while you may not ever make another dollar from them, your job as a salesperson has only just begun.

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One Response

  1. I agree there is not one size fits all mold that creates the He-Man of selling. But I can confirm through personal experience take care of the customer and the customer will take care of you. Too often the seller or seller’s company does not give a damn about servicing the customer after the point of the sale. So if you are the one person that remembers this rule you have a competitive advantage. Eventually your customer base will grow to the point that your issue is there is only 24 hours in a day. Common sense…I know…or would think.

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