HomeBlog The Cross-Sell/Upsell Dance: Who Leads?

The Cross-Sell/Upsell Dance: Who Leads?

April 24, 2015 | By Bob Peterson

  • Cross-selling and upselling remain a topic of high interest for b-to-b organizations around the globe
  • There is still a need for internal alignment to optimize support for new offerings
  • The customer.community can help provide insights into the best way to introduce new offerings

I recently returned from leading a series of customer forums on the topic of cross-selling and upselling new offerings. Held in London, Paris and Amsterdam, the forums presented the new SiriusDecisions Cross-Sell/Upsell Framework for strategically managing delivery of new offerings to existing customers. Forum attendees included numerous roles in b-to b organizations, including customer marketing, field marketing, sales, product management and channel management –clearly the right audience for a lively discussion on a vital topic!

UpsellIn a previous blog post, I outlined the three key elements to our new Cross-Sell/Upsell Framework for new offerings: knowledge of targeted buying centers, fit of new offerings, and relationship status within the account. Thinking back on the recent forums in Europe and the discussions in each city, I feel there are five additional considerations that also should be called out:

  1. Understanding the distinctions between cross-selling and upselling is essential. Many organizations view cross-sell and upsell as the same general strategy when, in fact, they can involve very different processes. SiriusDecisions defines cross-selling as a coordinated approach to generating demand within new buying centers; upselling, on the other hand, is a coordinated approach to generating demand within existing buying centers.
  2. Coordination of cross-sell/upsell between sales and marketing remains challenging. Deciding who leads the dance can often be the critical first step in effective cross-sell and upsell execution. In the recent forums, we shared a guide for marketers to use when planning cross-sell and upsell efforts with sales; it included essential criteria such as identifying the leading function, goals, nurturing options and measurement considerations.
  3. There are significant opportunities for product teams to help improve cross-sell and upsell processes. Product teams have release schedules to maintain, so they adhere to a predictable, orderly release process. Many marketers in our forums expressed frustration that they are not able to access new offering insights early enough in the process to optimize cross-sell and upsell initiatives. Finding ways for product teams to share new offering details early and often can ensure that sales and marketing teams hit the ground running.
  4. Sources of information to support cross-sell and upsell remain challenging for b-to-b organizations. The SiriusDecisions Cross-Sell/Upsell Framework relies on the ability to access insights into customer accounts. This information provides critical clues to current buying center needs, possible new buying centers, and the relationship status of contacts within the account. While the need for this information is generally acknowledged, many companies indicate they have work to do in order to access this data and provide it to the folks who need it.
  5. The customer community can help provide insights into the best way to introduce new offerings. Ask user group leads, the online customer community, or customer advocates to help with positioning the new offering. Existing customers can provide a view into cross-selling and upselling that sales and marketing teams may not have considered.

For me, the main takeaway from the recent forums was that cross-selling and upselling remain a topic of high interest for b-to-b organizations around the globe, but there is still a need for internal alignment to optimize support for new offerings. As the key drivers of growth within existing accounts, cross-selling and upselling strategies should not be left to chance, and companies are looking for a more coordinated way to bring new offerings to existing customers. The SiriusDecisions Cross-Sell/Upsell Framework offers a roadmap to facilitate a coordinated approach that benefits both the company and, more importantly, the customer.

Bob Peterson

Bob Peterson is a sales and marketing thought leader with more than 20 years of experience working in mid- to large-sized global organizations, with emphasis on the financial services and software sectors. Bob has particularly focused on developing account-based marketing strategies to help sales and marketing organizations forge tighter alignment.

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