Use the Incremental Approach to Increase Sales

Michele Warg
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Have you ever had a sales prospect rant and rave about your product or service only to walk away without making a purchase? This scenario is common in the business world and would occur less often if salespeople adopted an incremental approach, explains Frank Cespedes of Harvard Business School. Cespedes suggests doing away with the traditional sales model, which involves generating leads and then offering incentives and overcoming objections in favor of incremental sales.

Understanding the Incremental Sales Approach

Presenting a prospect with a free or low-cost trial offer and then providing a steep discount if he decides to buy a product or make a long-term commitment to a service is one example of using an incremental sales approach. Another example is selling one item at full price with a money-back guarantee and offering a discount on any complementary items purchased over the next six months. With an incremental approach, buyers can learn more about a brand or service over an extended period of time, and sellers can gauge the commitment of the prospect. Buyers are always exploring new products and evaluating the decisions they made after committing to a purchase, so using an incremental approach is an ideal strategy for generating more sales. This approach to selling also brings customers back, which is important for building customer loyalty.

Helping Buyers Explore Their Options

Using an incremental approach is also a good way to get buyers to give your product or service a try, even if they currently buy from your competitor. Does your product solve the problem faster and more efficiently than your competitor's product? Does your service meet the prospects' needs better than the services they currently use? Is your product or service a more cost-effective option? With an incremental approach, the prospect can answer these questions for himself without making a long-term commitment. It's not uncommon to find prospects who are dissatisfied with a product or service they currently use, so wooing potential buyers using an incremental sales approach might turn them into life-long customers.

Time-Sensitive Offers

When using an incremental approach to sales, it's important to present a time-sensitive offer. Giving the prospect too much time to cash in on discounts or try your product or service gives them no incentive to buy and leaves them open to receiving pitches from competitors. While you should never resort to high-pressure tactics in order to close a sale, consider sending a prospect a reminder text or email or posting deadline information on the company's social media platform as the expiration date on an offer approaches. It's also a good idea to offer an additional incentive if the customer commits by a specific date.

Overemphasizing a product's benefits, offering too many useless incentives and coming up with clever responses to customer objections is not the best strategy for generating more sales. Using an incremental approach is a better option, as this approach aligns with a typical customer's buying behavior. Instead of focusing on getting one sale per customer, close multiple sales and gain repeat customers by getting buyers to make small commitments over a period of time.

Photo courtesy of  Serge Bertasius Photography at


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