How to Cross-Sell at Scale – Part 1

Cross-selling is the fastest, most profitable path to incremental revenue growth, period. With existing accounts and existing buyers, companies already have contracts in place, relationships established, and the data needed to identify new revenue opportunities. Assuming a vendor only has a 30% share of the total addressable market (TAM) in an account, attaining just 5% more in account share grows account revenues by 17%.

Given the clear ROI, why do so many companies have trouble getting cross-sell campaigns off the ground and scaled?

Two reasons: First, marketers mistakenly assume a new software tool such as ABM or discipline such as predictive AI will solve the problem by itself. It won’t. Secondly, sales leaders underestimate the upfront time and effort an individual account manager or sales rep must invest to plan out their cross-sell play. Consider two types of cross-selling:

  1. New Product, Existing Buyer: While this may be the easiest cross-sell, it still requires the sales rep to research of which existing buyers are candidates for which new products. Then, they must get trained on the new product(s) and be comfortable enough to sell a new product or service without risking the existing relationship.
  2. New Buyer, Existing Product: In cases with larger, enterprise clients there are often multiple new prospects across departments, business units, and geographies who could buy the same product or service. Once again, too often this requires sales reps to comb through many internal data sources (purchase history, product usage, customer service logs) to identify new prospects in an existing account.

The issue? When cross-sell research, call prep, and “relationship risk” become big challenges, sales reps (direct and 3d party) revert to selling only the products they know to the people they know. Simply stated, they won’t aggressively cross-sell. If they can meet their quotas with existing buyers and products, then why cross-sell?

To cross-sell @ scale, product marketers and sales ops leaders must take as much of the cross-sell prep work (buyer profiling, selection, product recommendation, tailored content) off the plate of the sales rep. I call this providing sales reps with “prescriptive sales plays;” plays that define in each territory who to target, what message to send, and what product(s) to recommend. These prescriptive sales plays can be developed by a centralized research and analytics service bureau (in-house or 3rd party) and pushed to sales reps and customers through existing CRM and marketing automation systems.

In sum, cross-selling ain’t easy because it requires data intense prep work. But if you can simplify the cross-sell process for sales reps, then revenues and profits can soar. In part 2 of this blog, I will add the “how…”