• The terms “cross-sell” and “upsell” are often used interchangeably
  • Cross-sell is the ability to penetrate new buying centers within an existing account
  • Upsell is selling more into an existing buying center that has previously purchased from the organization

In a recent blog post, I urged readers to start thinking about “satisfaction” and “loyalty” as distinct outcomes that are both important to the organization. Similarly, I often hear people use “cross-sell” and “upsell” interchangeably. Just like satisfaction and loyalty, cross-sell and upsell are not the same.

In the B2B context, we define cross-sell as the ability to penetrate new buying centers within an existing account. Upsell is the act of selling more of the same solution or even different solutions into an existing buying center that has previously purchased from you.

As you might imagine then, the role that marketers (and sales leaders) play is different in each of these different growth scenarios. For example, in many cross-sell efforts, marketing will have to do more reconnaissance work into the different buying centers (gathering contacts, understanding key challenges, etc.). For upsell purposes, marketing and sales will need to recognize satisfaction within the current buying center as well as utilization of the current solution as an example – ensuring that the buying center is ripe for purchasing more.

So, with the intermingling of terminologies, I’m not surprised to see many organizations struggle with then adequately measuring cross-sell efforts.

At the 2014 SiriusDecisions Summit, my colleagues Ross Graber and Craig Moore introduced the Aligned Measurement Framework – a way for organizations to have a common vocabulary of measurement across functions and to connect outcomes and impacts with actions taken. As part of that framework, four metric classes are established that organizations should track: Impact, Output, Activity and Readiness.

Using the metric classes from the aligned measurement framework, here are some examples of measures to ensure that your cross-sell efforts are achieving the results for which you are striving.

From a readiness perspective, track the percentage of target account profiles that are complete. Tracking Net Promoter Score (NPS) also helps to identify which contacts and organizations are more likely to refer you into other buying centers in an organization. Note that NPS is also, and more frequently, used as an impact measure resulting from the efforts your organization takes to engage customers.

From an activity level, for example, track the number of cross-sell programs or assets that are executed as well as the number of new contacts in existing accounts added to the marketing database against the goals set out for the team.

From an output perspective, track response rates to cross-sell programs (opens, clicks, attendance, demos, etc.) and the number of inquiries and marketing qualified leads from new buying centers in existing accounts.

Lastly, from an impact perspective, types of KPIs that should be tracked include the total revenue generated from cross-sell efforts, percentage change in customer lifetime value and the percentage of customers with revenue from multiple buying centers.

As with any measurement efforts, remember to ensure that the organization is aligned on the measures (marketing and sales need to be on the same page) and to establish a baseline first so that you can gain insight into the results of your cross-sell programs.