When you’re only working with one department of a customer’s company, you can become obsolete if that department’s needs or goals change.
It’s key to implement your solution at multiple levels of the organization, both vertically and horizontally, for you to have the best chances of long-term retention. The more you can get people bought in on your product or services, the harder it will be for them to detach from you.
So, by cross-selling, you can provide more value to your customers by helping them in more ways, and you can get more value from them in the form of recurring revenue.
However, to cross-sell effectively, you can’t just pitch ad-hoc during a regular check-in. You need to identify if a viable opportunity exists and develop a strategy for addressing it.
Before you can even consider cross-selling to a customer, you need an understanding of how the company is set up and build rapport within the organization.
To best plan your selling strategy, you need to know what departments your cross-sell offering will impact, what additional decision-makers will need to be brought in and what potential roadblocks exist. And, for the customer to want to buy more from you, their company needs to be familiar with you and the value you provide. Plus, you need to have a point of contact with whom you have a professional relationship that can advocate on your behalf.
How to Identify Cross-Selling Opportunities
There are two primary ways to identify a cross-selling opportunity for a customer: By auditing customer data to look for opportunities or by receiving a request in reference to your current engagement that can be expanded.
Audit your customer data to gather information that can guide recommendation conversations. The specific triggers will differ based on your product or service offering but generally look for points of friction related to your offering and opportunities where your solutions can provide an improvement.
How is your product being utilized?
Who uses your product and what teams are they on?
What initiatives is your product being used for?
Are there manual processes related to your engagement that you can help automate?
Are there tools used in relation to your engagement that are outdated and you can provide alternatives for?
Are there integrations with your product that you can replace with native features?
In some cases, instead of initiating the cross-sell conversation, your customer will come to you with a request that extends outside of the scope of your current solution that you can solve through a cross-sell.
You can use that request as the starting point to open communications with decision-makers outside of your point of contact to get an understanding of what the need is that your cross-sell can address.
How to Determine If a Cross-Sell Opportunity is Viable
To evaluate the viability of a cross-sell opportunity, you need an understanding of the customer’s organization and a point of contact that can act as a sounding board.
What challenges are they facing? What conversations are they having with co-workers that are causing stress? What other needs does their organization have?
Keep asking questions to get more insights into what the challenges are, and as you get more details you’ll be able to start mapping out whether it’s a challenge you can help address, what other decision-makers would need to be involved and if the cross-sell would be worth the effort.
Some signs that a cross-sell won’t be viable include:
The decision-maker is too high up in the organization for you to be able to reach in a timely manner, like if you work with a department manager but would need C-Suite approval
If the value your offering provides doesn’t align with the needs of the ultimate decision-maker, for instance, if you’re working with a single branch of a global company, but the solution would require approval from global leaders
Price sensitivity: you should have an idea of budget and timeline from your existing engagement, so don’t try to sell beyond their means
A lack of alignment between your cross-sell pitch and their organizational needs, such as a solution that won’t help them achieve their current goals
Another element impacting the viability of opportunities is sentiment. Good sentiment generally indicates that you can pursue a cross-sell, but you’ll need to think through the value you’ll be providing if sentiment is neutral or bad.
A strategic cross-sell can improve sentiment because you’re going above and beyond to help the customer. So, if the solution you’re pitching truly aligns with their organizational goals and can solve their challenges, it’s worth pitching to customers where the sentiment isn’t as great — as long as the opportunity really does make sense for the customer.
What to Do After Identifying a Viable Cross-Sell Opportunity
Once you identify a cross-sell opportunity you want to pursue, turn your point of contact into a champion or influencer and get them to help you sell further into the organization.
It’s like a traditional sales conversation: you identify a primary point of contact to establish rapport with, build up value and then enable them to champion you to the rest of the decision-makers.
However, unlike a traditional sales conversation, you already have a relationship with the prospect. You don’t need to spend as much time getting buy-in on why your company is a good solution provider to work with. Instead, you can focus on the value of the proposed solution, the ways it’ll benefit end-users, from the get-go.
Everett is a Principle Growth Advisor at New Breed. With over 5 years on New Breed's Service team, Everett brings a Strategist's mindset to helping New Breed's prospects with their ideal growth plan to scale effectively.