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Master Cross-Selling in B2B: 5 Winning Strategies

B2B Sales
min read

published on

May 2, 2024

Cross-selling is a solid strategy for B2B companies looking to diversify income and drive growth. A pilot study by McKinsey found that cross-selling can increase revenue by around 20% and profits by about 30%! While this study focuses on B2C transactions, it shows the power of implementing a solid cross-selling strategy.

However, executing cross-selling techniques in B2B can be challenging. Many businesses grapple with how to do it right, worried about straining client relationships or appearing too pushy. 

That is where we come in to help. 

In this article, we explore five proven strategies to successfully cross-sell B2B services, helping you unlock new revenue streams and strengthen customer relationships.

Short on time? Here are the key takeaways

  • Cross-selling means suggesting products or services that complement what your customers are interested in — typically to solve related problems or enhance their experience. 
  • Offering the right extra products or services to your customers can increase sales, satisfaction, and loyalty.
  • Effective cross-selling strategies include personalizing recommendations, implementing order thresholds, bundling products, using retargeting, creating limited-time offers, and promoting associated products when facing inventory challenges.
  • Remember to focus on offering solutions, not just pushing products. Customers who feel like you genuinely care are more likely to say “yes” when you have a good suggestion.

Cross-selling vs. upselling: What is the difference?

Before we cover cross-selling tactics, let’s break down the difference between cross-selling and upselling. These two strategies sound similar, but they are distinct: 

  • Cross-selling involves offering complementary products or services that enhance your customers’ experience or solve related problems.
  • Upselling focuses on encouraging your customers to purchase a higher-end version of the product or service they are already considering.

In B2B, cross-selling might involve suggesting complementary products that enhance your customer's existing workflow. For example, a footwear wholesaler selling to a retail chain could suggest a line of athletic socks to complement a new sneaker launch. An upsell strategy, on the other hand, could mean promoting a premium insole with added support for the same sneaker model.

Expert advice: Successful cross-selling in B2B requires a deep understanding of your customer’s business, challenges, and goals. Presenting your company’s additional offerings as complementary solutions — rather than just optional add-ons — is key to building trust and long-term relationships.

The advantages of cross-selling for your business

Cross-selling can bring some big benefits to your B2B company, including:

  • A boost in revenue. By offering products or services that complement what your customers are already interested in, you can tap into additional revenue streams while enhancing value for existing customers. This fosters loyalty and supports both customer acquisition and retention.
  • Increased customer lifetime value. Customers who purchase multiple products from your company are more likely to remain loyal and make repeat purchases. This bumps up their lifetime value — i.e., the total revenue you can expect from them throughout their relationship with your business.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction. Proper cross-selling means offering solutions that make your customers’ lives easier or help them achieve their goals. That kind of extra value keeps them happy and loyal to your business. Plus, it enhances their shopping experience — key to retaining customers and achieving long-term success in B2B.
  • A competitive edge. Offering a mix of products sets you apart from the competition, making you the go-to for everything your customers need.

5 effective B2B cross-selling strategies

So, you know what cross-selling is and what it can do for your business — but how do you cross-sell effectively in a B2B context? You need a strategic, customer-centric approach

Below, we share six strategies for maximizing cross-selling opportunities, building trust, and driving success. We also provide some B2B cross-sell examples to illustrate these concepts in action.

Let’s dive in!

1. Personalize your cross-selling

As we have mentioned, to succeed in B2B cross-selling, you must make suggestions that offer your customers genuine value. Personalizing your cross-selling recommendations is a great way to achieve this!

Here is how to get started:

  • Dig into your customer data. Review purchase histories, website analytics, and data in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, and look for patterns and insights that can inform your recommendations. (This is especially important if B2B cross-selling is part of your market entry or international eCommerce strategy, as you will have various customers with unique preferences.)

For example, perhaps you find that customers who buy a certain tool often purchase special safety gear, too. You can then suggest that safety gear to other customers who buy the machine.

  • Use your existing tools. Many B2B eCommerce and CRM platforms have built-in features to help you track customer behavior and make smart recommendations.
  • Get specific with your suggestions. Do not just offer any product — think about what makes sense for that customer. Did a salon purchase new hair styling products? Perhaps suggest complementary brushes or combs. Did a spa order a large quantity of massage oils? Maybe they could use additional linens or aromatherapy supplies.

Expert advice: Make sure your customer support and account management teams understand each customer’s business goals and challenges, too. This not only improves customer service but also helps your teams recommend the most suitable products and services when needed.

2. Implement order thresholds

Order thresholds are minimum purchase amounts your customers must reach to unlock special discounts, free shipping, or other incentives. By setting strategic order thresholds, you can encourage your customers to add complementary products to their carts, increasing average order value and driving cross-sell opportunities.

This strategy is particularly effective for wholesalers, manufacturers, and suppliers who often deal with large purchase quantities. 

For example, a B2B packaging company could offer a 10% discount on orders over $5,000. This encourages customers to add related products, such as custom labels or packaging accessories, to reach the threshold and take advantage of the discount.

3. Try strategic bundling

Bundling involves offering a group of related products or services at a discounted price compared to buying them individually. This creates a sense of value for customers and encourages them to try more of your offerings.

When done right, bundling can simplify the buying process for customers, especially when they are ordering large volumes of products. It can increase average order value, and introduce customers to complementary services they might not have considered on their own.

Expert advice: Do not bundle just for the sake of it — ensure the products or services in your bundle truly make sense together. Focus on solving a specific customer problem or addressing a common workflow with your bundled offering. 

For example, a B2B coffee supplier could bundle a commercial-grade coffee machine with a selection of premium coffee blends, filters, and cleaning supplies. This provides restaurants and hotels with a complete package for offering high-quality coffee service to their guests.

4. Use retargeting to stay top of mind

While many B2B e-commerce sites operate are closed to the public and often password protected, retargeting can be a powerful tool for those with an open storefront

Retargeting works like a friendly reminder. If a current customer visits your eCommerce website and checks out a product or service, retargeting lets you show them ads about it later on different channels — e.g., social media, news sites, etc.

This strategy is especially effective in B2B, where buying decisions often involve longer consideration time, need validation across complex systems, and involve many people. Retargeting keeps your company top-of-mind and is perfect for showcasing related products and services while customers are still considering their purchase.

For instance, a supplier like ABC Collectivites, which offers benches and bus stop shelters, could use retargeting to remind potential customers who’ve shown interest in specific products about complementary offerings. For instance, if a customer views a bus shelter, ads could later promote matching waste receptacles or signage options.

Expert advice: You can use retargeting data to get even smarter about your cross-selling. Analyze which ads and product combinations get the most clicks and engagement. Then, use that information to refine your strategy and show the most relevant cross-sell offers to the right people.

5. Promote associated products to overcome challenges

B2B settings often present unique challenges, such as product shortages or supply chain disruptions. When a customer's desired product is out of stock, do not let that be the end of the conversation. Proactively guiding customers towards suitable alternatives can save the sale and keep them happy.

Let’s say you are a supplier of industrial adhesives and your standard epoxy resin is temporarily out of stock. You can offer a different epoxy with comparable properties, suggest an alternative adhesive type (e.g., acrylic or polyurethane), or guide the customer to complementary products such as surface preparation solutions.

Here are our tips for maximizing associated product promotion:

  • Know your inventory inside and out. Maintain an up-to-date understanding of product relationships, including direct substitutes, similar items with minor variations, and complementary products that form a complete solution.
  • Train your teams. Equip your sales and customer service teams with the knowledge to confidently redirect customers to suitable alternatives. Implement quick reference guides within your CRM or sales systems to make these recommendations effortless.
  • Use your website strategically. Implement features such as “You may also like…” and “Frequently bought together” sections on product pages. For out-of-stock items, prominently display similar products or alternative options.

The bottom line

Cross-selling is one of the smartest ways to grow your revenue, make your customers happier, and stand out in a crowded market. 

Getting cross-selling right can be tricky, but with the strategies we have discussed in this guide, it does not have to be. Try personalizing your cross-selling recommendations, using order thresholds and bundling, implementing retargeting if you have an open storefront, and being proactive in promoting associated products.

By implementing these strategies, you can pave the way for long-term B2B business growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of cross-selling in B2B?

An example of B2B cross-selling is when a company that sells customer relationship management (CRM) software recommends a complementary email marketing tool to its customers. By offering a related product that enhances the functionality and value of its CRM, the company can drive additional revenue and help customers achieve their goals more effectively.

What are cross-selling services?

Cross-selling services involve offering complementary or related services to existing customers to increase revenue and provide a more comprehensive solution. For example, a B2B marketing agency that provides content creation services might cross-sell social media management or search engine optimization (SEO) services to help clients achieve better results and maximize the impact of their content.

What are the benefits of cross-selling in B2B?

The benefits of cross-selling in B2B include:

  • Increased revenue and profitability by selling additional products or services to existing customers.
  • Higher customer lifetime value and loyalty, as customers find more value in the company’s offerings.
  • Improved customer satisfaction by providing comprehensive solutions that address a wider range of needs.
  • Competitive advantage by offering a one-stop shop for customers’ business needs.

About the author
Alexis Delplanque
Co-Founder & Chief Sales Officer @ DJUST

Expert in topics on B2B sales, sales strategy, eCommerce, eProcurement, and revenue diversification

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