There is enough nonsense in the sales world. It is spread by consultants who have to sell something new and up-to-date. In the latest years, two-step sales have become extremely popular. It’s expensive, but not universal and not miraculous technology. Today we will try to understand it.

Let’s start with a simple: what is two-step sales

In the one-step sales, the company offers each customer to buy a product. This is a usual sale:

Sign up for our paid courses.

In the two-step sales company first offers something for free:

Come to our free seminars.

Those who agree to use something free are later offered to buy goods.

If you liked our free seminar, let us introduce you our paid courses.

How to make the first step

The first step in the two-step sales is usually an information product, free trial, favor or gift.

A lot of mailings are based on the principle of two-step sales. You subscribe to the “One Hundred tips on home repair” and the tenth letter offers you a coupon to the hardware store. It is also a two-step sale: you get useful information in exchange for private data. In response, you’ll sooner or later get a commercial offer.

Advantages of the two-step sales


Free products and events attract people better than advertising. Announcement of free lectures can easily assemble a full house. It is much easier to get to the conference with a workshop than to buy advertising space on it. Even if a lecture or a workshop is not free, they still attract more attention than traditional advertising.


Two-step sales filter the incoming stream of customers and choose those who are more likely to buy something. People spend time and effort on you, so they are already interested. It is easier to sell to an interested person.


People who enjoy your free offers, interact with your company. They see you, talk to you, visit your office. Now not only advertising affects the customer’s decision to work with you, but also specific experience with your company.


Lectures, seminars, tips, guides, tutorials, books, and other content marketing help you to earn the reputation of an expert. If your product requires expert status, it is a powerful advantage.


When we give a person something on very favorable terms, he may feel obligated to us and it will push him to the response. The principle of mutual exchange is much more important than it seems to be.

What can go wrong


People do not appreciate what they receive without effort. Often happens that people are invited to a free workshop, accept the invitation but don’t come. It happens because there are tasks that are more urgent and more important than a free workshop.  But if a person would have signed up in advance and paid for a ticket, he would come just not to lose money.

Another problem is the prejudice that something free can not be good.

Solution: make interesting products and increase their value. Put a small price for a ticket, and you will immediately see a much more interesting and motivated audience.


There are people who have a lot of free time and absolutely no money. This is the most active visitors of free lectures and webinars: they are almost useless for your business, but you spend on them as much energy and resources as on those who are willing to pay.

Solution: put a minimum price for entry: ticket, a deposit payment for downloading books. Let it be the lowest price that barely covers your expenses, but it will cut off those who are not interested in your offer.


This happens when you deceive potential customers’ expectations. If you promise an informative webinar – please fulfill the promise. If your customers are cheated on a free webinar, who can guarantee that you will not cheat on a paid one?

Solution: nothing prevents you from calling a webinar “Fundamental types of customers” and specify in the description that you will talk about the very-very basic elements. Probably, you will attract fewer people, but no one would leave frustrated.


When the method of two-step sale is applied to the wrong product, you can easily work for the benefit of a competitor.

For example, a travel agency organizes an expensive presentation of new resorts for corporate holiday. The managers come, look, drink champagne and like everything. “But why should they pay to a travel agency, when they can organize everything themselves?”. They ask a secretary to book tickets and hotels. And the travel agency loses their money.

Solution: Companies should consider such scenarios and accept the fact that their first step can play against them.

When not to use two-step sales


There is nothing wrong with the creation of loyalty to your shop. But if people buy your product only once and it is rather cheap, two-step sales are not suitable for you.


If you organize two-step sales, you need CRM to work with clients. Without CRM, you won’t be able to contact those who have made the first step. You can use Salesforce as your CRM solution, manage your leads and opportunities.


Two-step sales are expensive, so it is better when customers buy or order something several times. It is the task of loyalty programs. You must have a system of client accounting, discount cards, gifts, and loyalty discounts. If you have none of that, you’ll probably lose those who come to you after the first step.