Why cross-selling is part of Wells Fargo’s strategy

Wells Fargo’s (WFC) first, and possibly the most important, operational strategy is focusing on cross-selling. It’s the most important pillar of its operational strategy.

Saul Perez - Author

Nov. 20 2020, Updated 11:42 a.m. ET

Part of a bank’s DNA

Wells Fargo’s (WFC) first, and possibly most important, operational strategy is focusing on cross-selling. Dick Kovacevich, former chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, is often credited with developing the bank’s successful cross-selling strategy.


According to Wells Fargo, cross-selling is “the process of offering customers the products and services they need, when they need them, to help them succeed financially.” For Wells Fargo, cross-selling is a part of the organizational DNA. It’s the most important pillar of its operational strategy.

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The above chart describes the cross-selling process. Wells Fargo always engages with a new customer to determine their financial needs and aspirations. This leads to increased customer intensity. Customers purchase more banking products. Customers’ loyalty increases as they purchase more. Also, many customers become advocates for Wells Fargo. This is great marketing for Wells Fargo.

Why is cross selling important?

Cross selling is important for three main reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper than new customer acquisition: It costs a bank much more to acquire customers than to sell to an existing customer.
  2. It improves customer retention: Cross-selling means a customer gets a number of services from you. This leads to a longer and deeper customer relationship.
  3. It increases revenue per customer: More cross-selling means more revenue from the same customer.

Wells Fargo is the most successful bank at cross-selling

Wells Fargo is the bank that’s most successful at cross-selling. None of its competitors—JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), or Citibank (C)—even come close to it. They’ve tried to copy Wells Fargo, but they haven’t had as much success. Smaller banks—banks that are a part of a diversified exchange-traded fund (or ETF) like the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF)—are even less successful.

Wells Fargo wants to strengthen its competitive advantage more. It wants to increase the number of cross-sold products. Wells Fargo has a clear cross-selling advantage over companies that offer just a few financial products. It also has an advantage over companies that only sell through one channel. This is a strong competitive advantage for the bank.

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