9 Cross-Selling Strategies for B2B Business

Shahin Hoda 16  mins read Updated: February 16th, 2024

Did you know that 80% of your future profits will likely come from just 20% of your existing customers? Additionally, the probability of selling to an existing customer is an astounding 60 to 70%, compared to a mere 5 to 20% for a new prospect. These stats aren't merely numbers; they underscore a crucial, often overlooked strategy: cross-selling.

Cross-Selling Strategies

In the competitive world of B2B marketing, it's imperative to leverage every available opportunity, and cross-selling offers a prime avenue. At its core, cross-selling involves encouraging your current clients to invest in additional products or services that align with their existing purchases. It's a strategy that not only promises increased revenue but also deepens business relationships.

Understanding the significance of cross-selling goes beyond revenue. It's about enhancing the customer experience, demonstrating the full spectrum of solutions a business can offer, and establishing enduring trust. With effective cross-selling, B2B marketers can fortify customer loyalty and optimise lifetime value. In this article, we'll present nine effective B2B cross-selling techniques with insights and practical steps. Whether you're an expert in B2B marketing or just starting, this article offers a clear framework to enhance your cross-selling approach.

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    What is Cross-Selling?

    Cross-selling is a sales strategy where businesses suggest complementary products or services to customers based on their current or past purchases. A cross sell aims to increase the transaction's total sales value while deepening customer relationships by addressing broader needs. In the B2B context, cross-selling can involve suggesting additional software modules, complementary services, or related equipment, depending on the nature of the initial product or service procured by the client.

    For instance, a company that sells business management software to another firm might also recommend a complementary data analytics module that can integrate with the primary software, providing the client with enhanced insights and capabilities.

    Cross-Selling vs Upselling: What's the Difference?

    Cross-selling: This strategy involves offering customers products or services that complement their current or impending purchase. For instance, when a business procures a software platform for human resource management, cross-selling might suggest an additional module, such as payroll management or employee performance analytics, to enhance the primary purchase. The goal is to provide added value by comprehensively addressing the client's needs.

    Upselling: Upselling, in contrast, seeks to elevate the customer's initial choice. This can involve purchasing more of the same product or upgrading to a more advanced, often more expensive, version. If a client is eyeing essential human resource management software, upselling will promote a premium version with additional features or increased user licenses.

    While both cross-selling and upselling play pivotal roles in driving sales growth, the strategic application of each determines their effectiveness. When businesses cross-sell, they offer products or services that align with the customer's current purchase, enhancing customer satisfaction. Upselling, on the other hand, aims at higher-priced versions.

    By discerning when to cross sell complementary offerings versus when to upsell enhanced versions, B2B marketers can align their propositions more accurately with client objectives, ensuring maximised value delivery and fostering deeper client relationships. Moving forward, we'll focus on techniques promoting cross-selling and dive into nine effective strategies tailored for the B2B domain.

    9 Cross-Selling Strategies with Examples

    1. Map out the customer journey

    To optimise cross-selling, having a relevant offer and presenting it at the right time is crucial. This is where customer journey mapping comes into play. Mapping out your customer journey is probably the most important component of an effective cross-selling strategy. A clear map provides a holistic view of your business's interactions and touchpoints. By understanding this journey, you can determine the most opportune moments for cross-selling, ensuring that the offers resonate more effectively with the client.

    As the digital landscape rapidly evolves, the number of touchpoints grows by 20% annually, according to McKinsey. This change results from a surge in offline consumers transitioning to digital tools and the emergence of a new digitally oriented generation of buyers. For B2B companies, staying updated with these shifts is paramount. With touchpoints changing frequently, customer journey mapping should be treated as an ongoing project. Even a year-old map might be obsolete and lead to missed opportunities.

    Consider a scenario involving Nike. A customer has recently purchased cross-training sneakers and downloaded the Nike Training Club app. Over the next week, they frequently revisit Nike's online store, browsing more cross-training products. This repeated activity signals active interest. Given their past purchases and online behaviour, it becomes evident that this is an opportune moment for cross-selling. Imagine receiving an email from Nike highlighting "Cross-Training Essentials” such as the "Nike Pro 5" Training Shorts" and "Yoga must-haves” like the "Nike Indy Soft Sports Bra." Such targeted cross-selling not only meets the customer's current interest but is also timed to perfection.



    While the Nike scenario highlights a B2C context, customer journey mapping and timely cross-selling principles are equally applicable in B2B. Consider a scenario involving a B2B software vendor. A business has recently purchased a basic CRM module and accessed the platform's analytics dashboard multiple times. Over the next week, they search for integration tools on the vendor's portal. Given their recent purchase and online behaviour, an email from the vendor suggesting complementary analytics tools or integration options would be timely and relevant. This approach emphasises the potential of harnessing customer journey insights in a B2B setting to optimise cross-selling opportunities.

    By mapping out these journeys and acting on the insights, businesses can significantly enhance the effectiveness of their cross-selling strategies, leading to increased revenue and strengthened customer relationships.

    2. Take the social approach based on buying behaviour

    The social approach to cross-selling is a method that leans on the collective behaviour of customers rather than solely relying on algorithms or expert recommendations. The social approach to cross-selling, often showcased in various cross-selling examples, leans on the collective behaviour of customers, giving businesses hints on product pairings that can increase the average order value. Platforms like Amazon prominently employ this technique with their "frequently bought together" feature on product pages. What makes this approach unique is its ability to spotlight product combinations that might not be apparent through traditional analysis or expert suggestions.

    B2B businesses can derive substantial benefits by leveraging this social approach. By tapping into the collective behaviour of their clientele, they can unearth unconventional product pairings that have proven appeal. This powerful cross-selling strategy aligns with the fact that recommendations grounded in actual purchasing behaviour often resonate more with potential buyers than purely algorithmic suggestions.

    Imagine browsing Amazon for a high-end camera. You've done your research and are inclined to purchase a particular model. Scrolling down the product page, you see the "frequently bought together" section. Here, you see a specific lens and a unique camera bag – items you hadn't previously considered. Yet, given that other customers, who likely shared your needs, found value in this combination, you're now intrigued and more likely to add them to your cart.

    An example of cross-selling on amazon

    A similar approach can be seen on B2B equipment platforms, where complementary tools or add-ons are suggested based on collective buyer behaviour. This social approach capitalises on the inherent nature of impulse buying, which accounts for a staggering 40% to 80% of all sales. By presenting buyers with items that others in their cohort found valuable, businesses can drive spontaneous purchases, augmenting their revenue streams and increasing average order value.

    3. Order thresholds

    Order thresholds refer to a sales technique where customers are enticed to increase their purchase amount to meet a certain monetary or quantity threshold in exchange for discounts or other benefits. While this isn’t traditional cross-selling in the sense that a specific complementary product isn't being recommended, it encourages customers to buy more of the same or other products. The method often employs prompts like “Spend $xx more to get 20% OFF.” Such thresholds can also be termed bulk or wholesale discounts, where the price reduction is directly tied to the purchase volume.

    Example of order thresholds

    For B2B entities, particularly wholesalers, manufacturers, and suppliers, order thresholds can be an instrumental strategy. Not only does this approach incentivise larger purchases, but it also strengthens loyalty as clients realise the cost-saving benefits of buying in volume. By presenting attractive discounts at volume breakpoints, B2B companies can drive more substantial sales and foster repeat business.

    Imagine a company looking to buy 5,000 units of a specific ergonomic chair model for their new corporate office. The supplier, recognising the potential for a larger order, could offer a deal like, “Purchase 7,500 units and receive a 15% discount on the entire order.” Such a proposition encourages the buying company to consider investing in additional units, perhaps for future needs, to avail of the significant discount.

    Consider a manufacturer of industrial machinery. They might offer a machinery parts subscription package, enticing businesses with, "Buy bulk parts for 12 months upfront and receive a 20% discount on every order." Companies would then be motivated to commit long-term, understanding the cost-benefit. Order thresholds can increase sales volume and ensure sustained revenue streams when combined with loyalty or subscription programs. Their potential savings can turn one-time buyers into loyal, recurring customers, making it a win-win for the supplier and the client.

    4. Retargeting

    Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy that involves targeting users who have previously interacted with your website or content but have yet to convert or make a purchase. By leveraging online advertising platforms, brands can "follow" these users on their digital journey and tailor ads to bring them back to their website. This is crucial. In the B2B landscape, the buying process is intricate, with an average of 27 interactions before a purchase decision, as highlighted by Forrester's research. Retargeting aids in remaining top-of-mind during these interactions.

    Given the myriad interactions a B2B buyer typically engages in before reaching a decision, retargeting becomes paramount to ensure a brand stays visible during this extended decision-making process, in the B2B sphere, where research-driven decisions are the norm, retargeting acts as a gentle nudge, reminding potential buyers of a product or service they were considering.

    Consider a company that sells specialised enterprise software solutions. A potential buyer visits their website, goes through a product demo, but leaves without making a purchase. Through retargeting, this company can display ads showcasing similar or complementary software tools on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn that the buyer frequents. These ads could highlight the tool's benefits, offer a special discount, or even present a free trial.

    Big players like HubSpot leverage this strategy efficiently. Consider a visitor to HubSpot's site who browsed their content management system but didn't make a purchase. Later, as they scroll through their Facebook feed, they encounter a retargeting ad from HubSpot, offering "Free Templates" - a relevant lead magnet. Once lured back to HubSpot's website, the visitor encounters more cross-selling opportunities, showcasing how the free templates integrate seamlessly with other HubSpot offerings, bolstered by social proof and trust-building elements.

    Hubspot example

    Retargeting is not just about returning visitors; it's about re-engaging them with a purpose. By incorporating lead magnets and relevant cross-selling tactics, B2B companies can guide potential buyers into their sales funnel, effectively nurturing leads and maximising conversion opportunities.

    While retargeting primarily focuses on users who have previously interacted with your content, it also indirectly influences new customers. When these users see your brand's persistent online presence, it builds credibility and trust, making them more inclined to consider your offerings when they're in the market for similar products or services.

    5. Using the limited-time FOMO as a cross-selling strategy

    FOMO, or the "Fear of Missing Out," is a psychological phenomenon where people perceive they might be missing out on rewarding experiences others are having. This is something businesses can leverage in their cross-selling promotions. For instance, businesses can create limited time offers to evoke a sense of urgency, prompting customers to act quickly and purchase more. It's about creating an environment where customers immediately need to capitalise on an offer to avoid missing out.

    example of fomo

    In the B2B arena, businesses can expedite the decision-making process by introducing a time-sensitive component. Especially when nearly 7 in 10 millennials, now emerging as key decision-makers in many organisations, experience FOMO, the strategy becomes even more relevant.

    Picture a scenario where a customer adds a software security solution to their cart. The platform could immediately offer them a complementary password management tool at a discount, valid only for the next few hours. They could add a dynamic countdown timer next to the deal to amplify the urgency.

    Similarly, in the B2B realm, a SaaS provider might display a message on their landing page: "Only 50 slots left for our exclusive beta trial." Limiting the available spots makes the offer seem exclusive, triggering the desire to be among the elite few to gain access.

    Limited-time FOMO strategies can lead to a surge in immediate conversions. By tapping into the inherent human desire to be part of exclusive experiences, B2B businesses can drive up sales and encourage faster decision-making among their clientele.

    6. Staying in the picture with continuous messaging

    In B2B commerce, consistent communication isn’t just about direct selling. Businesses can cultivate a lasting relationship with their clients by continuously sharing valuable insights, updates, and relevant industry information. Electronic newsletters, product bulletins, and updates via diverse platforms like emails, websites, and social media channels ensure that you remain at the forefront of your client's minds, positioning you as a trusted resource rather than just a vendor. By sharing consistent educational content, B2B organisations can solidify their reputation as industry leaders and experts. This, in turn, makes their cross-selling pitches more credible and effective.

    Example of staying in the picture with continuous messaging

    Cross-selling examples, such as the case of a B2B company specialising in cybersecurity solutions, are particularly illustrative. While their primary offering might be a high-end security software suite, they could consistently share newsletters featuring the latest cyber threats, industry trends, and best practices. Perhaps they highlight a recent ransomware attack in one edition, while another bulletin might detail ways to train employees about phishing scams.

    Additionally, a responsive customer service team becomes an invaluable touchpoint when clients have questions or need clarifications. Their positive interactions can reinforce trust and pave the way for future cross-selling opportunities, ensuring that clients view the company as both a solution provider and a reliable partner. This is the best way to showcase your product range's breadth and depth to new customers as well.

    When this company introduces a new feature or complementary service, its clientele, who already view them as trusted cybersecurity experts, are more inclined to consider this new offering. The constant educational messaging keeps the business in its clients' line of sight and reinforces the value it provides. Continuous education-driven messaging builds trust, setting the stage for more successful cross-selling opportunities, thereby increasing average order value. Clients who perceive a brand as an expert are more likely to be receptive to its product recommendations, leading to deeper business relationships and increased sales.

    7. Bolstering credibility through influencer and advocate collaborations

    The age of digital marketing has brought forth the rise of influencers and brand advocates, making them valuable assets for businesses looking to amplify their reach and credibility. Collaborating with these personalities isn't just about strengthening a message; it's about aligning with voices that resonate with your target audience. These influencers and advocates elevate brand awareness and lend credibility to the products or services being cross-sold.

    Modern decision-makers are often sceptical and well-informed. They seek authentic testimonials, expert reviews, and credible endorsements before purchasing. Influencers, especially those in niche sectors, and genuine brand advocates can cut through this scepticism. Their endorsements serve as valuable social proof that can tip the scales in favour of a purchase, especially when considering complementary products or services.

    For instance, consider a B2B software company offering a financial tool suite. While their primary product might be accounting software, they could introduce a complementary tax calculation tool. Collaborating with a renowned financial blogger or an influencer in the finance tech space to review and promote this tool can significantly enhance its appeal. Suppose Adam Enfroy, a known name in online marketing, writes a piece about the best financial tools for businesses in 2023. In his article, he reviews the primary accounting software and emphasises the benefits of the complementary tax tool, highlighting its seamless integration with the primary product. Such an endorsement, especially when readers are aware of his influential stature in the industry, could boost the cross-selling potential of the tax tool.

    Example of bolstering credibility through influencer and advocate collaborations

    By having established figures in the industry endorse or recommend products, B2B companies can leverage their credibility to promote cross-selling initiatives effectively. Such collaborations expand the reach and ensure that the message resonates with an audience that values and trusts the influencer's judgment. Value and trust are essential elements of all effective cross-selling strategies.

    8. Leveraging behavioral segmentation for cross-selling

    Behavioural segmentation is a dynamic technique to group and understand your customers based on their interactions with your website. By understanding their browsing habits, purchase history, and interactions, you can tailor offers that resonate with their needs and preferences. In cross-selling, this personalised approach can make a significant difference. That's how you understand your customers better, thereby identifying the best cross-selling opportunities.

    For B2B companies, the sales cycle is often complex, involving multiple decision-makers and longer lead times. By understanding the behaviour of different stakeholders, B2B firms can cater their cross-selling offers more precisely, ensuring the recommendations are both timely and relevant.

    Types of Behavioral Segmentation:

    • Purchase and usage behaviour segmentation: This approach looks at customers' specific actions, from browsing patterns to final purchase decisions. For instance, if a B2B company notices that a particular client frequently explores data analytics tools after purchasing a CRM system, they might cross-sell a data visualisation tool that integrates seamlessly with the CRM.
    • Occasion or timing-based segmentation: Catering offers around specific times or events can boost cross-sales. A B2B software provider, for example, might provide promotional bundles during end-of-year budget finalisations, targeting companies looking to allocate remaining budgets.
    • Benefits sought segmentation: By understanding what a client hopes to achieve with a product or service, businesses can align cross-selling opportunities that amplify those benefits. Suppose a company purchases a cybersecurity tool for protection against data breaches. In that case, the seller might cross sell a comprehensive data backup solution, emphasising the added security benefits.
    • Loyalty-based segmentation: Loyal customers are goldmines for B2B companies. Recognising their commitment, firms can offer exclusive deals or advanced features of a product they already use. For instance, a loyal client using a company's primary project management tool could be cross-sold an advanced version with more features at a loyalty discount.

    Behavioural segmentation allows B2B companies to understand their customers better and enhances the chances of successful cross-selling. Personalised, relevant offers enhance customer experience and boost revenue by ensuring that the complementary products or services align perfectly with the client's needs and preferences.

    9. Aligning Services with Client Objectives

    To optimise cross-selling, businesses must ensure their recommended services align with the client's primary objectives. Simply having a vast range of services isn't enough; understanding and matching those services to the client's goals is paramount. By ensuring that every suggested service adds value to the client's objectives, businesses can enhance trust and provide meaningful solutions.

    Misalignment of services can erode this trust. On the other hand, when additional services align with client objectives, it reinforces the company's role as a strategic partner rather than just a service provider. This alignment can lead to longer contract durations, increased client retention, and more referrals.

    Imagine a company, 'TechSolutions,' that specialises in digital services. Their client, 'EcoStore,' a green products retailer, expresses their primary goal as increasing online sales. Instead of directly proposing a complete website redesign, 'TechSolutions reviews 'EcoStore's' current digital footprint. They realise that while the website is functional, its loading speed could be faster, and it needs a blog section for organic traffic. Instead of a complete redesign, 'TechSolutions' cross-sells SEO optimisation services to improve website speed and content marketing packages to drive organic traffic through blogs. By addressing the actual needs, 'TechSolutions' not only provides a valuable service but solidifies its relationship with 'EcoStore.'

    Matching services with client goals ensures that cross-selling strategies are client-centric, building trust and providing clients view of the company as a value-driven partner. This is one of the most lucrative cross-selling techniques businesses can employ. The approach fosters longer and more prosperous business relationships, benefiting both parties in the long run. Companies can refine their cross-sell strategies to highlight how additional offerings not only meet but exceed client expectations, further solidifying trust and partnership.

    Benefits of Cross-Selling for B2B Companies

    Cross-selling is essential for B2B companies to drive growth and build lasting client relationships. In this section, we delve into the top benefits of cross-selling and how they can transform a company's success.

    Easier to sell to an existing customer

    It's a well-established fact in the sales world that selling to existing customers is less resource-intensive and more efficient than acquiring new ones. Existing customers trust your brand, are familiar with your services, and have experienced your customer service. This efficiency translates to a higher success rate for cross-sales, making it a cost-effective strategy for revenue growth. Leveraging these established relationships can help companies increase sales without the added acquisition costs. It is also important to remember that all cross-selling efforts are viewed as genuine attempts to add value rather than merely pushing additional products.

    Access to more customer data

    Cross-selling provides companies with a deeper insight into customer preferences and behaviours. When clients purchase additional products or services, it offers invaluable data about their needs, budgets, and preferences. Companies can refine their marketing strategies with this enriched data, making them more personalised and effective. Advanced tools can leverage this data, using machine learning to identify and prioritise the most promising leads, which drives sales efficiency.

    Balances growth between new and existing customers

    Relying solely on new customer acquisition can be risky. Cross-selling ensures a balanced approach to growth, tapping into the potential of both new and existing clientele. This balance ensures the company has a stable revenue stream, even when recent customer acquisition might be challenging. It reduces dependency on any growth avenue, providing a cushion against market fluctuations.

    Secures customer loyalty and improves retention rates

    Offering relevant additional services or products enhances the overall customer experience. It shows customers that the company understands and caters to their evolving needs. Happy, loyal customers not only contribute to consistent revenue but also act as brand advocates. This boosts the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) to the Lifetime Value (LTV) ratio, a critical metric for company profitability. However, ensuring that every product or service you cross sell aligns with the client's primary objectives is crucial, adding value to their business.

    Broadens choice of products and services

    Cross-selling introduces customers to a broader range of offerings they might not be aware of. This can lead to an increase in the average order value as customers might find solutions to problems they didn't even realise they had, thus buying more from the same vendor. Ensuring clients are aware of the full spectrum of solutions a company offers maximises the potential revenue from each client. So, while cross-selling capitalises on existing customer relationships, it also showcases a broader service or product range to prospective customers. By offering incentives like a free shipping threshold, businesses can further entice clients to consider additional purchases. The ability to effectively cross-sell also positions the company as a one-stop solution provider in the industry, making it more attractive to prospects looking for comprehensive solutions.

    Final Thoughts

    In the ever-evolving world of B2B marketing, mastering cross-selling can significantly elevate your business growth trajectory. In this article, we've journeyed through the nuances of cross-selling, from its foundational principles to its clear differentiation from upselling, and dived deep into nine robust cross-selling strategies backed by real-world examples. With these insights, you are poised to harness the full potential of cross-selling. The aim must always be to keep refining and optimising the cross-selling process, ensuring that every recommendation is tailored to the client's unique needs, maximising both customer satisfaction and revenue potential.

    To round off our exploration, it's essential to spotlight Account-Based Marketing (ABM). A strategy tailored to address high-value accounts; ABM ensures that marketing efforts resonate perfectly with targeted audiences. While cross-selling deepens existing relationships by addressing precise needs, ABM amplifies this by targeting high-value prospects with unparalleled accuracy.

    At xGrowth, a renowned B2B marketing agency, we've harnessed the synergistic power of ABM and cross-selling. Our approach is anchored in understanding and addressing our client's unique needs. A testament to our strategy's efficacy is our recent success, where we melded these tactics and unlocked 12 opportunities with top-tier financial institutions across Australia and New Zealand, resulting in a staggering $1.2 million pipeline for upper mid-market and enterprise accounts.

    Our precision in curating personalised content, capturing real-time feedback, and leveraging B2B intent data ensures that our clients consistently connect with high-calibre accounts. If you're driven to realise similar success and wish to tap into strategic B2B marketing's transformative potential, we at xGrowth are eager to catalyse your journey towards unprecedented growth. To understand how these strategies can benefit your business, consider speaking to one of our experts today.

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