While generating leads and drumming up new customers is essential for B2B success, making the most of your existing customer base is equally crucial.

Research shows that selling to new leads comes with a chance of a 5-20% success rate. Selling to existing customers can skyrocket your chances to upwards of 70%.

This is where the art of upselling and cross-selling comes into play. In this article, I will walk you through these two potent sales strategies, so you can boost your sales and keep your customers happy.

So, let's dive right in!

What’s Upselling?

Upselling is pretty simple to understand. It's when you're offered an upgrade, extras or a premium option that makes your purchase more expensive.

Think about it this way: You're at McDonald's, ordering a regular meal. The cashier asks, "Would you like to make it large?" That's upselling right there.

They're suggesting you get a bigger meal, which costs a bit extra.

In B2B sales, it's the same idea – offering customers something a little better, a little pricier and increasing sales & revenue in the process. You’re adding something on top of what they’re already buying.

B2B Upselling Example

Here’s a practical example of how upselling occurs in the B2B:

Let's say you run a software company and one of your clients is using your basic package for their accounting needs.

Your client has been with you for a while and is satisfied with what they have, but you notice that they have been consistently growing their business.

To upsell, you could offer them an upgraded version of your software that includes advanced features like automated financial reporting, payroll management and tax compliance tools.

You could say something like:

"I see your business has been expanding steadily and we want to ensure your accounting stays as smooth as possible. How about upgrading to our premium service? It not only streamlines your accounting but also provides comprehensive financial insights, saving you even more time and helping your business thrive."

By upselling, you're not only providing more value to your B2B client but also increasing your revenue from the existing customer. It's a win-win situation.

What’s Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is when you're buying something, and the seller suggests adding something extra that complements your main purchase.

Using the same McDonald’s analogy, instead of asking if you want a larger size, they say, "Would you like to add an apple pie?"

That's cross-selling. They're offering you something extra that goes well with your meal, making your experience even better.

Bring it back to the business realm; it's about suggesting additional products or services that go hand in hand with what the customer is already buying.

B2B Cross-Selling Example

Here’s what this looks like in practice:

Your office supply company has a client who regularly buys office supplies like pens, paper and notebooks from you. You notice they haven't purchased any office furniture yet.

To cross-sell, you could offer them a bundle deal that includes not only their usual office supplies but also a new desk and chair at a discounted price.

On their next purchase, you could say, "We've noticed you're a loyal customer and we appreciate your business. How about we make your office even more comfortable and efficient? We have a special bundle that includes your regular supplies along with a brand-new ergonomic desk and chair. It's a great deal to revamp your workspace."

In this scenario, you're cross-selling by suggesting complementary products (office furniture) to your existing customer who already buys from you. This not only adds value to their purchase but also increases your revenue from the same client.

The Key Differences Between Upselling and Cross-Selling

The main difference between upselling and cross-selling is right there in their names.

Think of upselling as a vertical movement – you're adding something on top of what the customer is already purchasing. In contrast, cross-selling is like a horizontal move – you're suggesting extra products that complement the customer's initial order.

While some people might use these terms interchangeably, there's a nuanced approach to each for them to be successful.

Upselling is all about enhancing the core product. On the other hand, cross-selling means introducing complementary items to make the overall experience more satisfying.

Determining which one to use depends on what you’re offering. If you have a single product, then you’re going to look for upsell strategies. Whereas, if you have multiple products, then you can do both upsell and cross-selling methods.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best methods you can start implementing in your B2B sales strategy right away!

4 Awesome Upsell Methods for B2B

1. Give Real-World Demos

When it comes to upselling, showing is often more persuasive than telling. Offering real-world demonstrations can be a highly effective method to convince customers to invest in a more advanced product or service.

The beauty of real-life demos is that they allow customers to see the value in action and how it can affect them.

For instance, imagine you run a graphic design software company and your customer is using your basic design software. You've just launched a premium version with advanced features like 3D modeling and animation tools.

Instead of merely listing the benefits, offer to conduct a live demonstration via a video call. Show them how easily they can create stunning 3D graphics and animations with the new software.

Hands-on experience can make the upsell decision crystal clear and showcase the enhanced capabilities of the premium version.

By giving real-world demos, you bridge the gap between potential and reality.

2. Tell a Compelling Story

Sometimes, the best way to convince someone to buy more is through storytelling.

You can craft a story that revolves around the customer's journey to success, the risks they might encounter and how you'll be there to support them – ultimately nudging them towards an upsell.

Imagine you run an office supply business and your loyal small business customer is reordering supplies. Use storytelling to remind them of their goal: to streamline their office operations for increased productivity. Paint a picture of how your advanced office supply packages can help them achieve this.

Now, introduce a touch of risk: what if they stick with the same supplies while competitors embrace innovation? They could lose their competitive edge. Assure them of your support by offering training and guidance on using the new supplies effectively.

This combination of storytelling, risk and support can make the upsell decision both compelling and practical for your customer.

3. Offer a Premium Option

Sometimes, the simplest methods are the most effective. When it comes to upselling, offering a premium option is a tried-and-true strategy that can work wonders.

Think about project management tools. We love them and we swear by them, so when they introduce a premium version of their software that includes advanced features like custom reporting, unlimited user licenses and priority customer support, we’re hooked.

This premium version offers additional capabilities and exclusivity, making it appealing to businesses that value enhanced functionality and top-notch support.

With a premium option, you can tap into businesses willing to invest more for higher quality, advanced features and a superior customer experience. And it’s especially effective for companies with particular needs.

4. Offer Customization Options

Offering customization options is another great method, allowing your customers to tailor your offer to their specific preferences. Since no two businesses are alike, offering customization as an upselling play is a great way to boost your revenue.

For example, suppose you sell project management software to a construction company. They love your software but need it to match their unique project workflows and reporting style.

That's when you step in and say, "No problem! We can customize the software just for you. You'll be able to create project templates, set up tasks the way you want and get the reports that matter most to your business.”

With this method, you not only meet your client's specific needs but also increase customer satisfaction and loyalty across the board. You can bet they’ll refer you to their partners!

3 Awesome Cross-Sell Methods

1. Bundle Products & Create Urgency

Bundling complementary products and introducing a sense of urgency is effective because it combines convenience with the fear of missing out (FOMO). There’s nothing we hate more than missing out (how many times have you checked your email today?), and this tactic plays into it.

When customers perceive added value and a limited-time opportunity, they're more likely to make a purchase. The stakes are higher – they could lose out if they don’t act on it quickly.

Let’s go back to our project management software example. You want to cross-sell a customer on your basic plan.

You can call or email them to say, “I've got a special offer this month. In addition to your current plan, you can bundle in our advanced reporting module, collaboration tools and priority support – all at a 20% discount! This exclusive deal is available only until the end of the month, so don’t miss out!"

2. Leverage Your Customer Knowledge

Harnessing your in-depth understanding of a customer's unique needs and goals can be a game-changer in crafting effective cross-sell opportunities.

For example, your CRM company has a client who primarily uses your software for managing customer contacts. Through your ongoing relationship, you've learned that they're also struggling with tracking sales leads effectively.

Leveraging your customer knowledge, you suggest that, based on your discussions, they could benefit from the lead tracking module. It streamlines lead capture, prioritizes hot leads and integrates seamlessly with their current CRM setup.

By aligning your cross-sell offer with their specific pain points and challenges, you demonstrate your commitment to their success and provide a solution that directly addresses their needs.

3. Product Page Recommendations

Leveraging product page recommendations can be another smart cross-selling strategy.

Using the CRM example again, your site can display related add-ons, such as advanced analytics modules, integration tools or customer support packages on the same page.

For instance, as they review the CRM features, you suggest other solutions like the analytics module for in-depth insights, integration tools to streamline their processes or premium customer support for dedicated assistance.

By offering these relevant additions directly on the CRM product page, you simplify their decision-making process and encourage them to consider a more comprehensive CRM solution. They’re already buying your CRM – why not get the full package?

Upselling & Cross-Selling Best Practices

When using any of these strategies, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Personalize Your Offers: Tailor your upsell and cross-sell offers based on the customer's specific needs, preferences and past purchasing behavior. My personal favorite is what HubSpot does – by tracking how we act on their website and with their product, they tailor suggestions and recommendations for additional products or upgrades.
  • Offer Incentives: Provide incentives such as discounts, exclusive access or special bundles to sweeten the deal and make the upsell or cross-sell more salient.
  • Understand Your Customer Needs and Pain Points: Do your best to build a deep understanding of your customer's business challenges and pain points. Then, use this knowledge to recommend products or services that genuinely address their needs.
  • Don't Forget to Follow Up: Consistently follow up with customers to remind them of your offers and answer any questions they may have. Persistence pays off!
  • Assess the Customer's Budget and Interest Level: Before making an upsell or cross-sell pitch, gauge the customer's budget and interest level to make sure your offer aligns with their financial capacity and priorities.

Elevating Your Sales Game with Upselling and Cross-Selling

There's no doubt that mastering the art of upselling and cross-selling can significantly impact your bottom line. But these strategies go beyond just selling products. It’s about building lasting relationships by delivering real value to your customers.

Think of yourself as a guide, while your offers are a bridge between where your customers are today and where they want to be tomorrow. Is your upsell or cross-sell made with that in mind?

And now that you're fully equipped with these tactics, it's time to put them into action. Here's to a future of successful sales plays and happy customers!