A Guide to Cross-Selling and Up Selling

When considering sales strategies, cross-sell and upsell opportunities are often overlooked, though they can be great ways to make further inroads with current customers. In fact, it’s such an important sales tactics that it was the focus of this month’s Institute for Excellence in Sales event. Executives Dario Priolo and Tim Sullivan from SPI, a sales performance improvement company known for solution selling, discussed how to maximize cross-sell and upsell opportunities in 2018 and beyond.

According to consulting firm Bain, the cost of selling to new customers is six to seven times more expensive that upselling an existing client. Most sales people intrinsically know this, but that doesn’t mean upselling is easy. Some of the challenges include decentralized purchasing, clients that misunderstand a vendor’s complete capabilities, and the variable skills of sales people.

Nonetheless, according to SPI’s “Voice of the Sales Force Survey,” sales professionals ranked “provide better content to stimulate cross-selling and upselling” as their number one priority when considering a broad range of performance improvement opportunities. This is significant because more than 750 sales professionals responded to the survey and considered a host of possibilities that would help to create demand, win deals, grow accounts and manage performance.

How do you get started with a program like this? Dario and Tim introduced a number of exercises including the solutions affinity map (see below). To use this tool, list your solutions across both the column and row headers of the chart and consider the intersections where different solutions can be sold together. This reminds me of Amazon’s recommendation engine – if you bought product A, you may also need these complementary products.

Next, create a color code to prioritize the best opportunities. Ideally, this tool will create some natural affinity areas that your sales team could explore as a possible upsell or cross-sell opportunity.

The next exercise focused on identifying white space opportunities. This exercise explores the various buying centers within an organization and looks for ways to tap into those buying centers through cross-selling.

To use this sheet, list all your solutions in the column headers and all the possible buying centers (e.g. different locations or departments within your client’s organization). In this example, green shows where there is a current sales engagement and red denotes the areas where there isn’t an opportunity. The “white space” that’s left indicates areas of opportunity. This exercise should be conducted quarterly to identify new ways to add value for existing accounts.

The last topic of conversation was about business drivers, which was a great reminder to focus on your client’s pain points during the sales process rather than on your own capabilities. During this exercise, the presenters encouraged the attendees to consider what was driving their customers’ business. What initiatives are they working on that you might be able to help them with?

Overall, Dario and Tim led a thought-provoking discussion that provided some tools to guide a “land and expand” strategy. As we move into 2018, I hope these tools will help to create a “fortress of value” (to use Dario and Tim’s words) that will protect against competitive encroachment. After all, the white spaces will be filled by someone, why not you?

Dario and Tim’s full presentation can be found here. Happy holidays and here’s to a successful 2018!