B2B marketing is not what it used to be. It has undergone a sea-change in the past 5 years in terms of thinking about cross-selling and upselling. Today’s B2B buyers resort to online search and other marketing channels to make a purchase. 

In fact, studies suggest that they conduct at least 12 online searches before making a purchase. They move in and out of the sales funnel before making the final purchase. Cross-sell and upsell are two methods that help B2B marketers sell more than what they intend to.

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is a selling technique where customers buy a product that is related to an already bought or soon-to-be bought product. Example: Selling earphones along with a smartphone or a keyboard or mouse with a laptop.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a selling technique where the seller tries to sell an upgraded or premium version of a product that the customer is considering purchasing. Example: Selling a higher version of a smartphone that has more RAM, storage specs, or camera capabilities. 

How do cross-selling and upselling differ from each other?

Cross-selling and upselling differ from each other in several aspects. The very purpose for which it is done, the objective, the elements involved in the transaction, the end result, and so on. 

Here is a snapshot that explains the key differences between cross-selling and upselling. 

Factor Cross-selling Upselling
Meaning Selling a complementary product Selling a higher version or an upgraded version of the product
Objective Tries to increase the sale transaction value Tries to generate more revenue from the customer on a transactional basis or a recurring basis
Elements involved An additional product other than the original product A higher version of the product replaces the original product considered for purchase
End result Increases the average bill value Increases transaction value and possibly increases recurring revenue from the customer

Importance Of Cross-selling And Upselling In A B2B Scenario

B2B selling is not easy. The sheer involvement of too many decision-makers elongates the purchase. This makes it super important for businesses to focus on existing customers and to squeeze maximum revenue from them. In fact, studies show that the probability of selling something extra to a customer is 60% to 70% higher than selling one item to a new customer, the probability of which is 5% to 20%. 

So, what makes cross-selling and upselling possible?

There are a few elements in every B2B transaction that makes them possible. They are discussed in detail below.

1. Knowledge of customer journey

Cross-selling and upselling cannot be carried out at random junctures of the customer journey. It must be properly planned for. This calls for a thorough understanding of the customer journey. 

When do they move past the awareness stage onto the interest and decision stage? Also, when in the decision stage, what kind of questions race through their minds? When would it be appropriate to suggest a cross-sell offer or an upsell offer?

Suggesting an upsell offer when a cross-sell offer is appropriate might actually backfire and cause the customer to churn. Such situations can be avoided only if the customer journey is understood in detail. 

2. Real-time support

eMarketer found that more than 80% of millennials have made an impulse purchase. Most millennials do not plan for too long to make a purchase. What makes them impulsive shoppers is also the fact that online stores have made it extremely convenient to make a purchase without taking too long. 

However, the case is different with B2B companies. In B2B eCommerce, the decision is taken after due consideration by many stakeholders. They also look at every possible information before arriving at a conclusion.

Hence, the need to offer real-time support. In a website that provides B2B-targeted products and services, it is best done with the help of live chat software. Why? In addition to providing real-time support, it can also give deep insights into what customers are looking for. This can further fine-tune the business offerings to customers, just like how HLC improved its digital customer support with its live chat software. 

3. Deep Product Knowledge of Support and Sales Team

End of the day, it is the customer-facing personnel who can put cross-sell or upselling into place. Also, they need to have deep product knowledge so that they can help the customer with the right product or service, be it a cross-sell or an upsell based on their needs.

The purpose of cross-selling or upsell is not to make an additional sale, but also to provide the customer with the right product that solves their problem or a combination of products that will deliver a better customer experience collectively.

4. Personalized Content Strategy For Every Stage Of The User Journey

Like mentioned earlier, B2B selling is a convoluted process. It also requires that the buyers be best informed about the product, its pros and cons, and also what makes it unique compared to competitors. 

In the past, traditional marketing communication like brochures helped with this. Today, product literature and also marketing content is best created and published digitally. A proper content strategy ensures that customers are empowered and educated to make a well-informed decision. Also, the content strategy cannot be a cookie-cutter one. 

Instead, it must appeal to customers who are traversing through various stages of the user journey. There must be a proper blend of awareness content, problem-solving content, and also decision-making content. 

Bringing it all together

Cross-selling and upselling are not new-age marketing strategies. They have been around since the beginning of B2B marketing. Today, they are carried out in a different mode. Website, social, email, and chat help B2B marketers sell more products to an already existing customer. 

In fact, selling to an existing customer is easier than selling to a new customer. The probability of the customer purchasing is also higher than a new customer making a purchase. The key is in knowing the various elements of the content strategy and in using them to your advantage.