Upselling and cross selling to existing B2B customers can be one of the most effective ways to quickly increase sales. There are hundreds of different approaches, each being suitable for a different situation. In this article, we’ll look at 5 upselling and cross selling techniques, with accompanying examples, which product-focused B2B sales reps can use to increase sales.
5 upselling and cross selling techniques for B2B sales
1: Demo products in context to convince your customer
Convincing someone to buy a more expensive product requires more than social proof and a list of benefits. Despite our world becoming more remote, the value in physically demonstrating products in context is worth the effort.
Real-life demos can be a convincing and natural way to begin an upsell, particularly since a demo’s only cost to the customer is their time.
Let’s investigate this through an example. Your company specializes in high grade building equipment and has released a new cordless drill which fully charges in 8 minutes. When your top-growing construction customer contacts you to order more standard drills, explain that you’ve got a new model out: and you need to show them what it can do because compared to the standard drills, it’s a better fit. However, rather than bringing the drill to the office, head out to the building site, and show how the newer model stacks up in context. Demonstrating the better product in use could be the final push needed to convince your customer and secure the upsell.
2: Use strong customer knowledge to cross sell supporting products
By leveraging your knowledge of a customer’s needs and goals, you can craft a cross sell based on making their business smoother with complementary products.
If you’ve got a strong relationship with a customer, it’s much easier to ask questions about their needs and spot hidden sales opportunities. And if you can consistently improve their efficiency by recommending products which save them time, you’ll develop a stronger relationship.
Example: You’re in the tire business, and have one customer who consistently averages around $25k’s worth of tire orders a quarter with you. However, changing a tire takes more than fresh rubber: what else does your customer need to change tires, and do so more efficiently? They may need bead sealer, tire mounting lube, valve stems, cores, caps and more. How much more convenient and efficient would it be for your customer to buy these additional products from you with the tires instead of gathering these consumables from other suppliers? Discuss this with the customer, perhaps there are other products they need which you didn’t consider.
3: Use storytelling, risk, and support to increase order size
Particularly if you’re working in FMCG, you can try using a story centered on the customer’s journey to success, the risks they may face, and how you’ll support them, to encourage an upsell.
A vivid success story which uses risk to create stakes can be solid reasoning for a customer to purchase more because it shows them what they desire, and what could happen if they don’t take action.
Example: Your top retail customer has just contacted you to replenish their toilet paper stock. When the time is right, begin your upsell by reminding the customer of what their success looks like, for example 50% category growth for the year. Explain how you’ll work together to get there, and the opportunities lying ahead. Now create stakes: what if there’s a supply shortage? If you sell out, you’ll be making 0 profit, and you can’t afford that- not while you’re picking up momentum. Having extra stock on the shelf may seem intimidating: reinforce the purchase and dispel the customer’s uncertainty by offering additional support: the steps you’ll take to ensure they mitigate the risks and sell successfully.
4: Be consistent and keep better products in front-of-mind
Consistently planting the seeds to an upsell can be a practical way to keep new products in the front of a customer’s mind and gradually guide them into a higher value sale. A great method to stay consistent is to create a schedule for following up with customers.
Example: After meeting with a customer and gauging their interest in a better product, plot out a series of dates in your calendar to recontact the customer and continue discussing the upsell product. The key is to stick to your plan: send out calendar appointments to the customer, and ensure that if they ask for something, you get back to them.
5: Bundle complementary products and create urgency
In nearly every industry, time-sensitive deals are used to build urgency and increase sales. You can do this yourself by creating a bundle package offer available only within a set timeframe.
Example: Let’s say you supply automotive parts and have arranged a package deal for August based on your most popular SKUs. In early August one of your auto parts customers calls in to place an order for engine oil and filters. Here you can drive a cross sell by explaining your package deal: free delivery plus a 20% discount on coolant, grease, additives, and transmission fluid available only until September. By pairing suitable products and marking a deadline, you create urgency and lower barriers to purchase. Don’t forget to follow up on the offer throughout the month.
Summary and your key takeaways:
Upselling and cross selling are staple techniques in a B2B sales strategy. If you’re struggling to get inspiration for your next up/cross sell, use these 5 techniques to inspire you:
- Upsell a better product by taking the time to arrange a demo with your customer in the environment the product will be used in.
- Use your detailed knowledge of your customers’ needs and goals to cross sell them complementary products which will help them become more efficient and successful.
- Upsell customers into larger order sizes with a storytelling approach: visualizing their journey to success and the risks which can be solved by purchasing more.
- Foster a future upsell by consistently seeding offers of more valuable products to your customers.
- Get a quick cross sell by bundling together limited time package deals when customers purchase a certain product.
Still looking for more sales techniques and tips? Check out our article on the 3 principles for building stronger B2B relationships, based on the advice of US sales expert Liz Heiman.