Cross Selling B2B Guide

A quick guide to B2B cross-selling

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What is cross-selling for B2B companies?

Cross-selling is when a business sells a related product or service based on what their clients have recently (or formerly) bought. Using customer data, businesses can tailor their cross-selling offer to increase the likelihood of a sale (while simultaneously increasing lifetime value).

The main difference between cross-selling in B2B and B2C lies in the target audience: B2B is when businesses sell to other businesses, B2C sells to individual consumers.

One example of B2C cross-selling is if a customer is looking at a frying pan on Amazon. While checking out the product page, they’ll come across categories that vary between “Frequently bought together” to “You may also like…” These categories would then promote related items, suggesting you bundle them all together in your cart. 

cross-selling-example

In a B2B cross-selling scenario, a SaaS company selling project management software may launch a new time-tracking feature. A promotional email is sent to their current customers, giving them a chance to preview the new add-on and potentially add it to their suite.

Are cross-selling and upselling the same thing?

While the same principle applies to both cross-selling and upselling – i.e., additional money being spent on a company the customer already does business with – they differ in what’s being purchased.

Cross-selling is when a related or complementary product is sold to existing customers, and upselling is when a product is upgraded by an existing customer for more money. To revisit our example from above about the SaaS company, an example of that business upselling would be them suggesting a current account upgrade to a premium plan that comes with more features and capabilities (and a higher price point). 

What are the advantages of cross-selling?

Cross-selling comes with many benefits, ranging from increased sales to better customer experiences.

Strengthened customer relationships

Cross-selling proves that you know your customers and are actively working to provide them with the products or services that will improve their lives. 

And when your B2B cross-selling initiatives are thoughtfully executed it can boost 

customer lifetime value (CLV), or the total amount of money you can expect from a customer over their entire relationship with your company. In our State of Personalization report, we found that 1 in 3 consumers say they’ll shop with a brand that’s given them a good previous experience (think: quality products and good recommendations), even if other, cheaper options are available. 

Selling to existing customers is easier

Existing customers are significantly more likely to buy another product or service from you than a new prospect. If you’ve proven you provide a product or service that meets customers’ needs, they’ll be interested in trying other options you offer.

Existing customers are also more likely to try new products and spend more than new customers. So, anytime you launch a new product or service, your pool of existing customers is the best place to start marketing.

More revenue generated with less marketing money

Acquiring new customers is expensive, and cross-selling gives you the opportunity to bring in more revenue without increasing B2B marketing expenses and hurting your bottom line.

In fact, 57% of retailers identified rising customer acquisition costs as a threat to their sales goals. Investing in existing customer relationships is cost-effective. 

B2B cross-selling steps

Here are the key steps to take in order to effectively cross-sell to your existing B2B clients. 

Gather and understand customer data

Customer data helps you make the right decisions when it comes to cross-selling. It gives you a better look at how your customers use your product or service, when they might benefit from a related offering, and what that offering should be.

Collecting an abundance of first-party data gives you the most accurate view of your customers because it comes directly from the source. You can build your first-party data through surveys, CRM information, social media, behavioral history (as a few examples).

To effectively collect and analyze customer data, you can leverage a customer data platform (CDP) to help you collect, centralize, and act on real-time data, to perfectly pinpoint cross-sell opportunities. 

Don’t oversell

Overselling can have the opposite effect if you’re pushing too many products too often, especially if those items are irrelevant or completely out of a person’s price range.  

To avoid this, prioritize getting to know your customers and their needs on a deeper level. This will give you a better understanding of the products that would benefit them, as well as what they’re more likely to be comfortable purchasing.

Personalize cross-selling opportunities as much as possible by explaining how their purchase would support their efforts and make their team’s job easier. Don’t forget to explain how their new purchase works in tandem with the existing products or services they’re already using from you.

Bundle properly

Bundling products is the practice of grouping related products together and selling them as a package deal (often for a discounted price). 

Bundling is a win-win strategy – your customers get a lower price and have the opportunity to try several products or services, and you’re bringing in more sales and showcasing more of your portfolio.

To optimize bundling opportunities, determine which products or services your company sells best complement each other. Be mindful not to bundle in such a way that you end up losing money.

Follow up by email

Follow-up emails maintain communication with your customers and provide opportunities for cross-selling throughout their relationship with you.

The follow-up email is also a good way for sales reps to gauge how happy customers were with the cross-sell you suggested, so you can use that data to inform future cross-selling strategies on that particular account (and to similar customers).  

Track your success with B2B cross-selling

Customer data isn’t just good for developing cross-selling strategies – it also helps you see where your cross-selling was successful and where it went sideways through tangible, quantifiable metrics.

Track metrics like email open rates, click-through rates (CTR), and conversion rates to discover if the channels you used to cross-sell resulted in a purchase or not. From there, you can dive deeper into the data and see if there’s a trend in who bought and who didn’t.


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Frequently asked questions

Say your company offers a platform for team collaboration and project management. You launch a new feature that allows teams to track time spent on individual tasks. You then pitch this add-on to existing customers to complement their current subscription. This is an example of cross-selling: offering something relevant or complementary to an existing customer, based on their purchase history.

B2B cross-selling is when you pitch complementary products to an existing customer or client, in the hopes that they will make a purchase.

Data is crucial to B2B cross-selling because it helps you measure things like customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter scores (NPS), engagement, and behavioral history. Not only do those metrics help you understand customer needs and preferences, but they can also help you predict future behaviors, which help you know the right moment to push a cross-sell.

An example of cloud data integration is extracting data from on-premises solutions and cloud-based apps (e.g., social media feeds, Dropbox, etc.), transforming this data so that it's in the same format, and then loading it into a cloud-based data warehouse.