Title: Maximizing Synergies in M&A and Achieving Cross-Selling Success



Jun 28, 20233 min read


Title: Maximizing Synergies in M&A and Achieving Cross-Selling Success


When it comes to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), capturing synergies is crucial to meeting shareholder expectations. While cost synergies are relatively straightforward to estimate and achieve quickly, capturing revenue synergies, particularly through cross-selling, can be more challenging. In this article, we will explore the importance of cross-selling in M&A and discuss the six core dimensions, known as the "six Cs," that can significantly increase the odds of capturing this revenue opportunity.

The Power of Cross-Selling:

Cross-selling, the practice of offering products and services traditionally sold to one set of customers to another set of customers, is a powerful way to realize revenue synergies. On average, there is a 20 percent gap between the desired outcome and the actual result in cross-selling initiatives, and it typically takes three to five years to capture the majority of synergies. To ensure a successful cross-selling strategy, companies must consider the following six Cs:

1. Complementarity:

One of the key factors in successful cross-selling is the complementarity of the companies' accounts, products, and services. Evaluating how well these aspects align can provide insights into the potential for revenue synergies. M&A teams often overestimate the complementarity of products, making it crucial to conduct a thorough evaluation before executing the cross-selling strategy.

2. Connection:

Strong customer relationships are the foundation for successful cross-selling. It is essential to assess whether the companies involved in the M&A have strong customer relationships to build upon. Additionally, understanding the difference between a strong relationship with the account and a strong relationship with the specific buyer is critical, as it can significantly impact the success of cross-selling initiatives.

3. Capacity:

For effective cross-selling, the salesforce must have the capacity to focus on these efforts. This requires evaluating whether the sales team has the necessary resources and bandwidth to dedicate to cross-selling activities. Without the appropriate capacity, even the most well-planned cross-selling strategy may fail to deliver the desired results.

4. Capability:

Equipping the salesforce with the skills required for cross-selling is vital for success. Understanding the relevance of new products to decision-makers and building credibility and trust in the new space are crucial aspects of capability. Sales leaders must invest in training and development programs to enhance the sales team's cross-selling skills and ensure they are well-prepared to execute the strategy effectively.

5. Compensation:

While compensation plays a role in motivating salespeople, it alone cannot achieve cross-selling success. A well-calibrated compensation plan, coupled with the right recognition programs, is necessary to incentivize and reward cross-selling efforts. Nonmonetary incentives can also be instrumental in spurring salespeople to prioritize cross-selling. Finding the right balance between financial and nonfinancial incentives is key to driving the desired behavior.

6. Commitment:

Commitment has the highest correlation with overall program success among the six Cs. An organization's commitment to cross-selling is crucial to achieving the desired results. Companies must demonstrate a strong commitment to cross-selling initiatives and create a culture that supports and encourages cross-selling as a priority. Making early progress on cross-sell initiatives builds a sense of momentum and reinforces the commitment to the strategy.


Capturing cross-selling synergies in M&A is essential for realizing revenue synergies and meeting shareholder expectations. By focusing on the six Cs - complementarity, connection, capacity, capability, compensation, and commitment - companies can significantly increase the odds of capturing the cross-selling opportunity. Here are three actionable pieces of advice for maximizing cross-selling success in M&A:

1. Conduct a thorough evaluation of product complementarity during the M&A process to avoid overestimating potential synergies.

2. Invest in training and development programs to equip the salesforce with the necessary skills for cross-selling.

3. Create a well-calibrated compensation plan that combines financial and nonfinancial incentives to motivate and reward cross-selling efforts.

By following these insights and taking proactive steps to address each dimension of cross-selling, companies can optimize the revenue potential and achieve successful cross-selling outcomes in M&A.

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