How to Create a Successful Cross-Selling Strategy That Boosts Retention and Revenue

Cross-selling is critical for B2B brands. It helps you squeeze more value out of customers while providing a better experience. 

Think about it: customers who sign up for your basic plan or who purchase your lowest-tiered product are probably doing so to test it out. But, chances are, they need more. If you’re not offering them the chance to add-on to their purchase with relevant products or services or upgrade to a more superior plan, their experience is going to plateau. 

According to research by Genesys, the three top factors for optimizing customer experience include: 

  1. Improving customer retention rates (42%)
  2. Improving customer satisfaction (33%)
  3. Increasing cross-selling and upselling opportunities (32%)

So, if you want to handle aggressive growth and create an irresistible customer experience, it’s time to get your cross-selling strategy polished and in place. 

First Things First: What is Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is the act of offering a related product or service to a customer who has made a purchase. Unlike upselling, which involves encouraging customers to upgrade their subscription or choose a premium product option over a basic one, cross-selling might mean offering additional training or pitching another complimentary service.

Cross-Selling Strategy Explained: Adinboxme Example
PixelMe promotes a new product that its customers might be interested in. 

The most successful cross-selling strategies promote products that are highly relevant to the initial purchase and that are personalized to each customer’s unique needs. For example, a two-person marketing agency might not need an in-house training session, but they could probably use one-on-one support and regular consultancy. 

Cross-Selling Strategy Explained: Vimeo Example
Vimeo upsells customers who are running out of storage. 

Cross-selling can work across individual customers as well as companies. For example, you might have sold a big-ticket item (like Azure for the Microsoft 365 Office suite) to a company through their CTO. After nurturing that relationship, you can use that point of entry to expand within the organization and meet, say, the CRO or the VP of sales. You can then start a conversation about Microsoft Dynamics or a CRM alternative with these new points of contact who have a different set of needs than the original CTO. 

Leverage a scoring tool like Breadcrumbs to conduct contact scoring for each customer, which will help determine what kind of cross-sell might be the best fit. 

Cross-selling is a must for multi-product brands, whereas upselling is a better fit for businesses selling just one product.  

Why Should You Implement a Cross-Selling Strategy? 

It might seem pushy to showcase other products when a customer first buys from you, but consider it from their perspective. By giving them a preview of other services that might benefit them, you’re offering an extra slice of value – who doesn’t want that? 

1. It’s Easier to Sell to An Existing Customer

Here’s some food for thought: the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is just 5-20%. Once a customer has invested in your product or service and experienced the value it offers first-hand, it’s much easier to pitch them on other products you offer. 

On top of this, you already know a bit about the customer. You know how they use your product, you know what they like and dislike, and you have a better understanding of their needs. This means you can pitch cross-sells that are highly relevant to their goals. 

2. It Secures Customer Loyalty and Improves Retention Rates

Customer loyalty is key for improving LTV and cementing your brand as an industry expert. Having a cross-selling strategy shows you understand your customers’ wants and needs and are able to provide them with excess value. 

When you’re able to do this, they don’t feel the need to shop around and go elsewhere, so they’re far more likely to stick around for the long haul. 

3. It Boosts CAC and LTV

Customer acquisition cost is a crucial metric for B2B brands. If the cost of getting a new customer outweighs how much they give in return, you’re quickly going to find yourself in the red. 

However, cross-selling relevant products and services slowly increases the lifetime value of a customer, making their acquisition costs far more justifiable.

4. It Personalizes the Customer Experience

Customer experience is one of the most important parts of business today, and personalization plays a huge role in it. 

Not all customers are the same, and each will have a unique set of challenges and pain points they’re up against. Cross-selling relevant products and services creates a bespoke experience that ties into their individual needs, creating a personalized and enjoyable customer experience. 

How to Create a Successful Cross-Selling Strategy 

Creating a successful cross-selling strategy that reaps all the benefits mentioned above, you need to have a good understanding of your customers and how your products fit into their journey. 

1. Build Out Buyer Segments and Personas

Having a full understanding of your different audience segments means you can promote cross-sells that align with each segment’s needs. Dig into data you have available, interview your best customers, and track user journeys to look out for:

  • Preferred products and services
  • How different segments use your products
  • The top challenges each segment faces
  • What extra value each segment might need 

Do this for each persona or buyer segment and map your products and services to each of them. This will enable you to personalize interactions with existing customers as they have come to expect from you.

Top tip: tie your cross-selling strategy to signals. As you continue to market products and put things out into the world, you’ll start to pick up on the signals from each segment. 

Here, time is of the essence. A scoring tool like Breadcrumbs, that incorporates time (aka not only who but also when) can help you cut through the noise and allow you to reach out to the right person at the right time.

For example, a relevant buyer might be engaging with you about a specific product and you might assign them a certain revenue score based on their interactions. Once you introduce the time variable, you’ll be able to see when they are engaging with you and you can time your ask with that person or another lead in the same enterprise company and provide a holistic experience to the entire account. 

2. Explore Your Options 

Cross-selling requires a deep understanding of each account and what else is out there in the market. The key lies in determining how your customers perceive your solutions, what competitors are also selling to similar accounts, and what brands are disrupting the market.

Brands that have success with cross-selling get the timing right and are aware of the bigger picture – that is, they understand the other products their customers are using in tandem and are aware of what’s trending at any given time. 

You can do this by: 

  • Tracking customer feedback and identifying any points of improvement
  • Exploring channel partners’ vendor preferences
  • Watching what competitors are doing and tracking their movements
  • Keeping an eye on emerging disruptors and their offerings 
  • Identifying other products your customers are likely to use and understanding how they fit together with your product or service

If you can monitor these things, you can make quick changes to your messaging and execute time-sensitive sales outreach. You can also feed this information back to other departments, including marketing teams and sales personnel.

3. Create and Promote Well-Aligned Content 

Chances are your customers found your business via different channels. One account may have run a Google search and come across your brand, while another might have been the result of a recommendation. 

It can be tricky to keep track of all these channels and provide a consistent experience on all of them, but it’s critical if you want to succeed at cross-selling. Customers today have it easy: they can research competitors in a couple of clicks, get side-by-side comparisons from industry experts, and leverage instant chat to tackle any objections. 

Creating content for each potential customer touchpoint that’s relevant to the wants and needs of segments that are likely to be using those channels makes it far easier to promote additional products. 

Getting the messaging right at each stage of the journey and on each channel can help create a friction-free cross-selling process. 

So what does this look like in action? It might include: 

  • Sharing blog posts on various segment pain points
  • Providing a demo of a cross-sell product to existing customers
  • Supplying your sales team with ebooks and videos that show how your products work for different challenges
  • Creating case studies that highlight different segment needs 
Cross-Selling Strategy: Create And Promote Well-Aligned Content - Stensul Example
Stensul creates a whitepaper geared towards one segment of its audience. 

4. Keep It Consistent

The last thing you want is to confuse your customers with too many cross-sell options. 

If the experience across different channels isn’t integrated in any way, customers will receive different messaging and responses across their journey. This might mean they get different cross-sell offers that aren’t aligned with their unique needs, which dramatically decreases the chance of them investing. 

Avoid this by setting up a framework that outlines and maps the required content customer segments might need at different points in their journey. 

For example, a two-person marketing company probably doesn’t want a demo for enterprise companies, but they might want to read a couple of case studies about small businesses that have succeeded. 

5. Track, Measure, and Test

Like any strategy, your cross-selling strategy can change over time. It’s important that you track its results to see what’s working and what’s not and tweak it accordingly.

Start by establishing your goals with your cross-selling strategy: what do you want to achieve? What would success look like for you? Is your goal to add value to the customer experience, improve LTV, or simply increase product awareness? 

Once you have a goal in mind, map out the messaging and content you’ll use to promote your cross-sell options. Consider the content examples shared above, but really try to determine how they fit the needs of your customers. What works for one business, might not work for another and vice versa, so it’s important that you track your results.

Examples of B2B Cross-Selling and Upselling in Action 

1. Invision

Cross-Selling Strategy: Invision

InVision cross-sells its Freehand tool for businesses interested in remote collaboration. They understand how their customers use the tool and have approached existing users with another feature that might be a good fit for their needs. 

2. CoSchedule 

CoSchedule’s HeadlineStudio product promotes a limited-time upsell offer that existing users might find useful. The ability to upgrade to Pro provides customers with extra features that might be beneficial to their unique needs. 

Cross-Selling Strategy: Coschedule

3. Evernote

Evernote promotes its Premium and Plus subscription levels to customers that have been using the tool for a while. It pitches the additional features that may be handy to existing customers and also offer a discount if they snap up the deal quickly. 

Cross-Selling Strategy: Evernote

4. Moo

Moo promotes its rounded-corner product to existing customers who might not have considered it an option. Existing buyers may well have invested in a number of Moo’s other products, but the brand promotes this option as a fit for customers with a specific pain point. 

Cross-Selling Strategy: Moo

5. Made By Source

Made By Source cross-sells its latest product to existing customers. Not only does it tie into a specific customer segment’s wants and needs, it also provides a discount if users invest in the deal right away. 

Cross-Selling Strategy: Made By Source

6. Skillshare

Skillshare cross-sells different courses based on an existing customer’s previous buying behavior and their interests. It uses their unique wants and needs to promote courses that are specific to them. 

Cross-Selling Strategy: Skillshare

Ready to Start Cross-Selling?

A cross-selling strategy can be very powerful that can add tons of revenue to your brand and increase customer loyalty at the same time – there aren’t many tactics that can do both of those things at once. 

The key is understanding who you’re selling to and creating bespoke cross-selling opportunities to pitch to each audience segment. Doing so will nurture relationships with customers on each account and create an enjoyable customer experience for all buyers. Get insights into your existing customers and start revenue scoring your interactions with Breadcrumbs. Book a demo today.

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