Cross-selling became a popular marketing and customer acquisition technique through customer service and sales contact centers back in the 1990s.  In the past ten years it has become a common practice on web sites based on an understanding of consumer insights learned from navigation patterns.  The travel industry, for example, is a huge proponent of cross-selling, both offline and online. For instance, have you ever made reservations at a hotel and been asked if you needed to rent a car or make dinner reservations? Perhaps you were offered a deal to a local tourist attraction simply for being a guest of that particular hotel. Think back to the last time you booked a flight online and the corresponding relevant offers you received in your confirmation email, your “time to check-in” email and even on your boarding pass itself! That is a prime example of cross-selling. You purchased item or service A and that company pulls together a short list of other items or services you might be interested in based on that first purchase.

For instance, if company A sells home insurance, they could make some customers very happy by offering company B’s discounted cable service to a new home buyer. The products are relevant and complementary, which is the real key to any business partnership and cross-selling campaign. There has to be a reason for two brands to work together for their mutual benefit and it starts with relevancy.

The success of this practice for online transactions is giving companies reason to revisit the approach for live interactions through the call center.    In fact, setting up the right partnerships with the relevant, complementary products only enhances the customer experience and your brand.    So rethink some of the myths about cross selling:  

1. Customer experience will suffer. No, it will not. Provided that the marketing partnership brands are aligned, and cross-sold products and services are highly relevant and complementary, the customer experience is actually enhanced. If a company helps to solve customers’ problems and complete their experience, the customer feels goodwill towards the company. With the right marketing partners and the right offers your company stands to become a sort of “concierge” service to your existing customers, anticipating their needs and providing an immediate solution.

2. Cross-selling dilutes or erodes the value of the leading brand name value. No, again not with the right partnership. With forethought into brand and product alignment, the right partnerships can actually enhance and strengthen all the brands involved. In fact, with the right partnerships, you can draft off the success of your partners’ brand and their investment in it! When there is brand relevancy, customers perceive value in engagement, and it can increase loyalty and engagement.

3. Cross-brand selling cannibalizes a company’s own products. It won’t. If a company offers cable service, they won’t likely partner with another cable service company; what’s the point? They have nothing unique to offer and suddenly it’s not a partnership, it’s a bidding war. Keep in mind that very few companies have the breadth of product offerings to satisfy all of a customer’s requirements around a life trigger event. For example, someone buying a new house will need a mortgage, utilities, cable, telephone, and maybe a security system and a moving truck. Do you know a single company that offers all of that AND delivers equal value on all fronts? Most companies cannot handle all that. Partnerships allow companies to complement their products and services with those from partners.

Want to learn more about the myths of cross-selling? Check  SalesPortal’s article on MediaPost at