How to lay the path for your second sale

grow2Pay-off: increase the chances of a second sale
Investment: 4 minutes

This is another one I’ve been asked about recently by professional service consultants keen to secure more work with their clients.

It’s one thing selling in your main solution. But how do you connect that to further business? How do you set things up so that it’s easy to sell in further value to the clients you’d like to work with again?

Here’s one way that’s helped create repeat business for me for years, and has worked very well for those I’ve shared it with who have acted on it.

Setting up your next project with your client

Well, aside of knocking their socks off by not just delivering what you promise but exceeding expectations, and delighting customers (we’ll assume you’ve got that in the bag, and if not, you’re going to have to start there) there’s one simple golden rule to follow:

Plant the seed to the next sale right now, and water it.

Don’t underestimate the simplicity here, there are some good reasons why this works, when you do it right.

And the first reason comes from Robert Cialdini who is arguably the leading expert on ‘influence’ (he’s perhaps best known for this book, which contains some excellent ideas that are worth weaving into your approach).

Amongst the useful ideas in his book, he makes clear that it’s less so what you do in the moment that influences people (although obviously that’s significant too) but it’s what you’ve done before the moment that has the biggest impact on your influence.

We know that what we’ve done in the past, and the trust we have built (or eroded) matters. High trust and respect are influential.

But also, in terms of setting up the second sale, if you plant a seed in their mind early that’s relevant, or is likely to become relevant later, then you’ve planted an idea in your client’s mind that can and will likely grow if you water it. Then when you come to ask for it later, you’ve increased your chances of getting a ‘yes’.

And the beauty of this approach is that a relevant high-value idea, framed up well, doesn’t need a lot of watering from you. If you do it well it pretty much waters itself.

How to do this well

If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well, so here’s how I recommend you do this:

It pays first to understand the ‘technology’ behind this. I’ve said many times before that we’re biased. And we can influence the biases of others. When an idea gets planted on our minds, we tend to notice more of it. Or we notice evidence that supports it. And so it grows. It takes up more of our headspace, more of our attention, and biases us even further to notice even more examples of that idea, or supporting evidence.

It happens with beliefs. It happens when you buy a new car, and start seeing them everywhere. And it happens when you learn a new word, and see that word the following week in an article. It was always there. But now you notice it because it was put on your ‘radar’.

If we want our clients to notice more reasons why it makes sense to engage us again, it pays to get this idea up on their radar early.

And this works well when you create a trigger – an association – in your client’s mind between their emotional ‘problem’ and your (emotional) solution.

It needs to be memorable, which is why we want to tie it to their emotions where possible.

Paint the trigger for them, and tell them that when that trigger occurs, they’ll essentially need your solution.


A simple example from my own world, is when client’s don’t understand the benefits of coaching their sales teams to embed effective sales behaviours (it’s still common for sales directors to believe that a one off training session will improve their sales results).

So if they don’t want a coaching program yet, I plant the seed by saying something like, “in the days that follow the training program, if you don’t notice immediate and consistent improvements in their behaviours, and you’re increasingly frustrated by the lack of sales results you’re reporting back to the business, then that’s a major trigger that suggests you need a coaching program. If you hit that point, it’s almost certainly worth discussing coaching.”

Sometimes of course, that jolts their thinking and they realise the coaching is a worthwhile investment immediately. But if not, it creates the emotional trigger (pain based in this case – I painted the picture of them reporting poor sales results back to the business) that is likely to grow in their mind.

From this point onwards, they are more likely to notice information that supports the idea of sales coaching. Perhaps they stumble across an article, or hear comments from their team asking for more support. The case for coaching could build in their mind, and I can help it along too by providing some useful articles, highlighting key points, if that’s what they want.

I’m sure you can determine what trigger events or situations should have your clients engaging you in a conversation that leads to further business.

Once you have, plant the seed now.

Just before I wrap up, I thought it might be useful to put this into a step by step process of sorts to consider.

4 steps to get that second sale:

  1. Go in from the outset with a long term relationship mindset and expectation. Assume they’ll want to partner with you long term. (Then you’ll start acting accordingly rather than just trying to make the one sale).
  2. Plant the seed for the second sale in your first sale conversations. Don’t push the point or it might appear as if you’re mis-selling or mis-understanding their requirements. But touch on it as something that’s in their interest to revisit later. And connect the seed to an emotional/memorable trigger that they’re likely to experience.
  3. Knock their socks off delivering on your first sale. And as appropriate, water the seed a little.
  4. Set up a meeting to explore where they are at further down the line, and ask if they want the conversation about the seed you’d planted.

If you want to turn this into a conversation with me of have me answer any of your question on this, give me a shout.

Scroll to Top