Estimated read time: 9 minutes
It’s been a rough year for many small and midsize companies due to COVID, and like many B2SMB brands, your company’s retention and acquisition rate among SMBs may be sluggish.
That makes now the perfect time for a “fresh” idea for growing SMB revenue.
I have an idea that will work, but I have to warn you, it’s not sexy (unless, of course, you find unexpected increases in revenue sexy).
The idea: Launch a cross-sell campaign. (Hey, I warned you.)
Cross-selling means selling more to your existing customers rather focusing on generating new customers. After all, study after study shows that it’s much easier to sell to current customers than to attract new ones. In fact, a study by Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase revenue by 25% to 95% because “return customers tend to buy more from a company over time.”
But instead of just putting an offer or special promotion in front of existing customers to upsell them, this type of campaign makes them even more loyal to your company because you’re giving them ideas for how to better run their business. And the best part? It’s low budget because you can mostly leverage your existing communication channels. For those of you that have new business acquisition targets (always a shinier object), hopefully the low-cost aspect of cross-selling wins your colleagues over.
A 4-Step Process
Every cross-sell campaign will look different depending on the product and the SMB audience, but here are the basic four steps along with best practices for how to effectively create a successful one:
Step 1: Pick a product
When doing this for the first time, we suggest choosing a product that is common or logical for cross selling. This could be one that has been on the market for a while or one that is relatively new.
Step 2: Come up with three to five challenges the product solves for SMBs
Consider the top reasons your SMB customers choose this product—in other words, the critical pain points or challenges it solves for them. Your sales team likely has great insight into the top reasons SMBs buy it and thus can be a terrific resource. (Note: These the results that the SMBs achieve, not the product’s features and benefits.)
Step 3: Create content assets for each step of the buying journey
Use the three to five top takeaways you identify from step 2 to create relevant and engaging content for your customers for each stage of the buying journey. This is critical, because every company will be at a different stage and having content that addresses each stage greatly increases the odds that it will resonate with them at whatever stage they’re in while accelerating their journey. (And keep in mind that most of your customers will not be actively shopping for the product you’re trying to pitch them, so you have to educate them first.)
Here’s how your content should be approached by buyer stage:
- Beginning of the buyer journey: Create educational content around the challenges you identified that your product helps solve. This can be focused on the challenges themselves, best practices (“tips”) or opportunities. But it should be helpful in nature and not about highlighting your product. A company selling phone or voice services, for example, might create content like “5 Customer Experience Musts for 2021 ” for the beginning of the buyer journey.
- Middle of the buyer journey: Introduce your product as part of the solution to those top challenges. Once business owners start to realize they need a solution like yours, they’re ready to start learning about specific products. So these content pieces can help them understand how your products can help them achieve their goals.
That company selling phone services, for example, might create middle-of-the-journey content like “5 Features Your Phone System Must Have.” It can then mention how its product includes these features. Further, if appropriate, it can show how the product integrates with existing products the SMB is likely using.
- Late in the buyer journey: Address SMBs’ most common buying objections. In other words, what are the top reasons business owners hesitate to buy your product? It could be price; it could be sheer reluctance to make a switch. Whatever those hurdles are, your content should address them to get them over the hump and turn them into buyers. We have found that there are typically four to five objections that make up about 80% of them—so it makes sense to focus on the most common ones.
The phone service company, for example, might create content like “How to Switch Phone Systems Without Dropping Even One Call”
Each stage should have at least five content assets per product that you are cross selling.
Step 4: Publish and promote the content
Since this is a cross-sell campaign, including the beginning-of-the-journey content in your email newsletter is a great first step. Also consider a dedicated email campaign that drips out the content over time. If you have robust marketing automation, you can send the content out in consecutive order over time—starting with the beginning stage content and then continuing through the later stages. If you have a sales team, the content can be used for sales enablement. Social media and your website are other great places to promote your content to existing customers as well as prospective ones.
Delivering greater impact
Many brands use online articles and e-guides to reach and engage SMBs, which are both great tools. But also consider producing short webinars, which—when done well—can be a great lead generator. Webinar leads are often much stronger and more engaged with your brand than those who, say, read a single blog post. To get the largest audience and keep them engaged, focus most of the webinar on early-buying-stage content.
Always include SMART CTAs (calls-to-action) that make it easy for your SMB audience to learn more about your products or services and buy when they’re ready. This can be as simple as “call us” to learn more or a link to another helpful article you’ve created. Recognize that not everyone in your audience is ready to buy, so they give them multiple CTAs in every piece of content—such as “learn more” as well as “buy now” so there is a next step regardless of where they are in the journey.
Once you’ve done one successful cross-sell campaign, you will probably be eager to do another for another product. It’s a great way to leverage current SMB customers and build your reputation as a helpful brand.