Four ways to unlock
cross-selling potential

Are you struggling with ways to increase your sales to existing
customers? Cross-selling could be your untouched gold-mine.

Sales of complementary products to existing customers tend to be more profitable than sales to new accounts. Yet, many B2B companies fail to sell more than one to two products/services to their customers. Additionally, it is commonly agreed that the cost of acquiring a new customer is substantially higher than retaining an existing customer. Furthermore, incremental sales foster longer-term customer/vendor relationships. Finally, many B2B companies have complex and strategic “must-win-deals” that erode margin, and need to find a recovery to boost the overall margin.

If this is the case, why aren’t B2B companies more successful in selling more additional products/services to existing customers?

Why is cross-selling so hard?

Our empirical evidence comes from talking to several hundred vendors over the past couple of years. From these discussions, a diagnosis for failure in cross-selling is perhaps rather simple:

  • Lack-of-access – not enough “feet on the street” or perhaps the current sales representative is too timid to circumvent current contacts?
  • Portfolio knowledge – sales people inherently sell what they know and stay in their comfort zone
  • Wrongly positioned – customers don’t recognize a vendor in the specific space, or that the vendor has products or services in the specific category

The business effects for these vendors include:

  • A typically account penetration of less than ten percent, meaning 90 percent is untouched in terms of sales opportunities
  • Sales of only one to two products or services to around 70 to 80 percent of their customers
  • Sales of the full portfolio of products or services to only two to three percent of customers

Four ways to start improve B2B cross-selling

There are several tactics you can deploy as a remedy to improve your sales to existing customers. Below you find four hands-on recommendations based on extensive experience of working with complex selling B2B companies trying to expand their offering to existing clients.

Recommendation I: Targeted Advertising

By using a rather simple matrix, you can map out your current customers on one axis, and your products or services listed on the other axis.

This matrix gives you a fast overview of where the hidden potential lies; a quick analysis of which product or service you should offer to a selected list of your existing customers within a few targeted segments.

When you are done with the mapping and have circled the largest potential for increasing your cross-selling you can activate Targeted Online Advertising in order to influence existing customers’ buying decisions. It helps you to deliver focused and targeted messages to all employees of the buying organizations.

Three tips for a successful targeted ad campaign to support cross-selling business goals:

  • Make existing customers see the benefits of using more than just a few of your products and services
  • Create a high sense of urgency within your customer’s organization from not using all products/services in your portfolio
  • Increase the awareness and knowledge of your portfolio among all employees

For a truly successful cross-selling ad campaign you should focus you communication on customer challenges for each product combined with relevant industry reference cases. Here you find an example

Recommendation II: Social Selling

There are some simple steps to get started with Social Selling by using Social Media like LinkedIn:

  1. Visit the key individual’s LinkedIn profile. They will very likely reciprocate the visit back to your profile. Wait.
  2. A reciprocate visit sends you a signal for next step. Wait for a few days.
  3. If they post or comment online, “Like” their action.
  4. If they post or comment online, make a comment to their post.
  5. Add the person to your network with a personal invite.
  6. Send LinkedIn InMail or regular email. Ensure to connect back to relevant topic of discussion in your previous comments on LinkedIn.

Recommendation III: Lunch & Learn

A simple tactic for increasing awareness and generated “water-cooler conversations” is to offer your customers to talk over lunch. Encourage your contacts to invite as many relevant people within the customer’s organization for a talk while lunching which you bring to the customer’s site.

It is recommended to conduct a small stakeholder analysis beforehand to identify those “movers and shakers” you ideally would like to attend for maximal impact. Few people turn down a free meal, take advantage of this.

Recommendation IV: Bee swarm

Another simple tactic for increasing awareness is to identify key individuals within your customer’s organization and simply call them to discuss. You should focus on:

  1. Presenting insights of the customer’s market, business and issues.
  2. Asking questions about the customer’s market and business.
  3. Suggesting available content discussing the customer’s market and business.

Bee swarm by contacting many within the same organization effectively creating impact that you are talked about inside the organization.


Which solution is best for your business?

Putting together the right mix of tactics depends on your business objectives, available budget, available resources, timeline as well as the number of companies and people you want to address.


Free Downloads – More about Cross-Selling

How to get started:

  • Video: Whiteboard Session with Christopher Engman, CEO Vendemore [10 min]
  • PDF: B2B Cross-Selling Matrix

Grab your free premium cross-selling material on how to get started unlocking your cross-selling potential: