Why the Second Sale is More Important Than the First

There’s this three-visit strategy in the restaurant business. If you can get a person to return a second time, the chances are about forty-two-percent they’ll return a third. But if you can get a third visit, the odds you get a customer for a fourth visit are something close to seventy-percent. Then, you’ve got a customer for life.


Why should care about the second sale more than the first:

The first sale is easy. Anyone can sell something to one person, once. You can trick a customer into a buying decision. You can give a ridiculous, money-losing discount to make the first sale. You can pay for a ton of advertising to make one sale.

To establish a buying relationship, however, is a different animal. Whether you own a restaurant, you write books, or you paint walls — the longevity of your business relies on the second sale… and the third.

Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

Going further with this thought…

EX: I bought a mattress, sight-unseen, through the interwebs. The website was beautiful. The offer — amazing. The promises and guarantee — perfect. These folks got me to spend almost thousand dollars on a mattress I never met. 

But they only sold me once. I expected something different. I was sadly mistaken.

Their email marketing is terrible. Instead of re-categorizing me into a buyer’s list, all I get is a continuous stream of emails to convince me to buy a mattress I already own. They’ve done nothing to make the second sale. They probably never will.

They put all their effort into the first sale. All their marketing and affiliate plans. They’ve got very little to offer on the back-end. Besides more mattresses.

  • They could’ve up-sold me two-for-one, special pillows.
  • They could’ve sent me a great deal on sheets
  • or sleep masks
  • or those cooling pads
  • or a sweet alarm clock
  • or blackout curtains
  • or a sleep book
  • or sleep vitamins
  • or a meditation course

I spent almost two thousand dollars with these folks and I got little more than a “your mattress is on its way” email.

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Think of how many other offers they could send me in a weekly “sleep newsletter.” I was a big-ticket buyer and they totally missed their opportunity.


The second sale is not a cram-fest

You don’t have to abuse a customer to make the second and third sale. We like buying stuff. We bought stuff from you. This means we voted with our wallets — the strongest vote for any business.


The following tips help you to convert the customer to buy the next time too….

  1. Give a soft ask on a frequent basis.
  2. Don’t hard-sell your customers. Instead, give them great reasons to return
  3. Don’t wait too long to make the second sale.
  4. If you never ask for a sale, and a year later you make us a big offer, the rare offer may seem off-putting.

Focus on keeping the current customers

You need to get new customers and keep old customers, simultaneously. The old customers are the ones who really believe in you. They get the special treatment.

Yes, we should give special offers to get new customers in the door, but never at the expense of keeping a loyal customer. The new customer might pay for your lunch, but the loyal customer pays your mortgage.

Photo by Alexandra Maria on Pexels.com
  • What can you do to encourage a second sale?
  • What can you do to help your customers tell the others?
  • What can you do to keep your tribe returning for more?

The first sale is easy.

A lemonade stand is the first sale.

My mattress company lost a lifetime customer through their short-sighted thinking. Make sure you don’t do the same!

Reference: August Birch, The Startup Blog.

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