How to Get More Results Out of Cross-sell Synergies In Mergers And Acquisitions

Cross-sell Synergies In Mergers And Acquisitions

When businesses study for M&A synergies potential in transactions, they conduce to concentrate on costs. After all, cost synergies are more natural to measure than revenue synergies and usually pay off immediately after Day 1. Revenue, or growth, synergies are more intricate and need more time to obtain. However, with deal multiples at historical highs, achieving cross-sell synergies in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is crucial to guaranteeing that transactions meet stockholder expectations.

Studies submit that cross-selling products and services traditionally traded to one faction of clients to another set of customers—is a potent means to accomplish revenue synergies. Cross-sell synergies in mergers and acquisitions records for nearly 20% of the value organizations obtain from revenue synergies.

Then why are cross-selling plans so challenging to execute in M&A conditions?

The trouble originates with the hurdles integral in actualizing revenue synergies in M&A. These M&A synergies ordinarily comprise varied functional groups; they’re challenging to assess upfront, and their final financial influence is difficult to estimate.

Businesses with the highest cross-sell synergies in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) concentrate significantly on the following dimensions.

Complementarity: How strongly do the businesses’ products and services complement each other?

In a merger, the scope of the cross-selling opportunity compares immediately with the potential to exercise existing products to new clients and the potential to bring new products to existing clients.

The stronger the two businesses’ products and clients complement each other in those two regards—the higher the value the merged company can profit from cross-selling.

While M&A organizations can usually assess overlay in customers or products, they favor exaggerating the potential complementarity of products. That enthusiasm customarily arises from inadequate comprehension of the complexity of products and insufficient customer validation—in other words, how clients purchase and utilize the two businesses’ products and services. Somewhat relevant is to estimating customer overlap. Generally, the more that the deal can attract different customers currently being ignored by both organizations, the higher the potential.

Moreover, products that are notionally complementary demand for exceptional thinking. It entails describing a new, compelling pitch that will spur business teams and customers equally.

Relationship: Do we have healthy client relationships to develop?

Maintain prevailing, committed client relationships on which to develop cross-selling opportunities. The more potent the link, the more robust the cross-sell.

The distinction in having a great relationship with the account and with the particular customer can have a notable bearing on success. Firms realize a higher cross-selling rate in a year of the merger at accounts where salesforce had healthy relationships with important decision-makers. Yet with a great relationship, sales leads need to know the new product’s pertinence to decision-makers and establish trustworthiness and confidence in the new space. 

At the due diligence stage itself, sales leads need to evaluate the robustness of existing relationships and product significance at an account or segment level, employing both art and science. Quantitative metrics like legacy sales and growth, product size, and sales rep tenure, coupled with a solid qualitative knowledge of accounts, can confer confidence to market-share-based hypotheses.

Capacity: Can the salesforce focus on cross-selling?

Sales organizations have limited sales capacity. Discovering whether they can cross-sell requires examining the current business priorities, product group, and sales plan, and balancing those factors against the advantages of starting a cross-selling program.

Leading companies study carefully at the feasibility of starting a cross-selling program and envision the energy and reward required for each salesperson to make it happen. They assess three aspects in precise:

  • Specific salespeople’s capability to prioritize the program and make the cross-sale element material enough relative to other products to get consideration
  • The preference, set in the sales quota, of selling added products
  • The expertise of introducing other products into customer communications

Not all cross-selling scenario interests to all reps. Designing the correct focus needs meticulous orchestration and deliberation of well-defined activity during the launch.

Skill: Does the salesforce have the abilities for cross-selling?

Businesses usually make hypotheses about what a sales organization could sell without an unbiased evaluation of the sales organization’s expertise, skills, and practice. One can view three cross-selling behavioral changes that have shown particularly challenging to drive: transactional to consultative, product to solution, and farmer (account management) to the hunter (account acquisition). In each instance, corporations have extended the salesforce past its nuclear capabilities.

To ascertain whether sales reps have what it needs for new cross-selling, sales leaders should recognize the consolidated salesforce. They need to evaluate new decision-makers and their requirements, the latest sales cycle, sales rep experience and abilities, and the sales operating model, including teams, business, and leadership.

Then sales leaders can propose the right sequence of action. This action may entail developing compelling materials and value propositions to facilitate aggressive selling, driving training programs to provide sales reps the required technical expertise, or developing a functional team committed to cross-selling.

For instance, if a service company acquires a product, the acquirer should task the current salesforce by selling the new product. The buyer salesforce got accustomed to short-cycle sales of services, where reps had client relations. However, the product needs meaningful up-front investment, a distinctive contracting model, and a knowledge of long-term customer business. The buyer should recognize that the product required a diverse salesforce. The buyer should bring a functional team with experience in capital-intensive sales cycles and supplementary financial abilities. Besides, they should have the capacity to operate collaboratively with the legacy salesforce.

Pay: Does the firm give the best incentives for cross-selling?

“Compensation drives performance” is the mantra of businesspeople everywhere. Although salary solely will not produce outcomes. Success entails linking a well-calibrated compensation program with the best recognition plans.

Sales teams frequently lean to sales promotion incentive funds, or SPIFs, for bonuses to drive salespeople to do cross-sales on top of their actual quotas. However, if an incentive reserve does not offer significantly to a rep’s allowance, it conveys the information that cross-selling is nice-to-have, not a priority.

For cross-selling campaigns to accomplish, the compensation plans must assure that the cross-selling opportunity is profitable to salespeople comparative to their current sales plans.

Nonmonetary considerations are also crucial to pushing salespeople to perform cross-selling a priority. Some businesses expect to achieve a cross-sale quota to pass for recognition, like having the CEO present individual honors to high-performing cross-sellers.

Committal: Is the organization committed to cross-selling?

Commitment has three elements. First, the firm should get a senior, valued leader liable for cross-selling and authorize that person to make decisions with the full backing of the business units concerned. Second, the organization should install cross-selling in its performance system. Transparent targets should cascade from the executive office to the front line and knitted into the fabric of current sales performance conversations.

Comprehensive monthly dashboards of the sales pipeline, quotas, and impact versus target, linked with formal finance and account reviews by topmost management, will assure the focus and order needed to accomplish goals. The dashboards also give the clarity required to openly rejoice the cross-selling successes that are crucial to sustaining momentum.

Third, the organization should build and communicate crucial support processes, such as revenue crediting, booking, and customer assistance, to assure a zero-frustration experience for sales teams to ensure seamless performance. 


As the demand to maximize the value of M&A transactions strengthens, understanding what distinguishes a right cross-selling opportunity from wishful thinking effects a real competitive edge.


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