What Is Cross-Selling? The Ultimate Guide for Increasing Sales

Have you heard of cross-selling? This technique effectively increases your revenue from both new and existing customers.

If you’re not using the power of cross-selling, you’re leaving money on the table. In this blog post, we will dive into the question of “What is cross-selling?” why it’s important, and how you can implement it into your sales strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Cross-selling is a sales technique used to increase the value of a customer’s purchase by offering them complementary products related to their initial purchase.
  • It is different from upselling, which encourages customers to upgrade or purchase a more expensive version of their desired product.
  • Cross-selling techniques offer many benefits, including more revenue and profitability, enhanced customer loyalty, and increased customer lifetime value.
  • Successful cross-selling requires data analysis, a seamless process, understanding when and what to offer, training your sales team, and measuring and improving performance.
  • To get your sales team to cross-sell effectively, you’ll want to provide ongoing training, take advantage of software, foster collaboration, and incentivize behavior.
what is cross-selling?

What Is a Cross-Sell?

Cross-selling is a sales technique that offers complementary products or services based on a customer’s interest or purchasing history with the company. Cross-selling aims to increase the value of the sale by encouraging the customer to consider additional offerings that can meet their needs or enhance their experience.

Take Mcdonald’s famous question “Would you like fries with that?” as an example — it’s often held up as the epitome of successful cross-selling. But this technique isn’t limited to fast food restaurants; electronics retailers could offer phone cases with a smartphone purchase, and software companies could suggest an analytics add-on feature, leading to increased customer lifetime value.

Cross-Selling vs. Upselling

For business owners and sales professionals, the terms cross-selling and upselling are often used interchangeably. But did you know they are two different sales strategies? If you’re unsure which is best for your business, learn the differences below:


Cross-selling is the practice of offering customers complementary products or services that are related to the item they are currently purchasing. For example, if a customer buys a laptop, you could offer them a monitor or computer bag. The idea is to increase the value of the sale and customer satisfaction by offering additional items that the customer may find useful.


Upselling, on the other hand, encourages customers to upgrade or purchase a more expensive version of the product they are interested in. For example, if a customer is interested in purchasing a basic smartphone, you might suggest they consider a more advanced model with additional features. The goal is to increase the size of the sale by getting the customer to spend more money on a higher-end product.

Which Approach Is Better?

When deciding which approach is better for your business, the answer depends on your goals and customers’ needs. Cross-selling is often used to increase the average order value and provide customers with a better overall shopping experience. On the other hand, upselling can be useful to increase revenue or have a high-end product that appeals to a niche market. Both cross-selling and upselling have benefits and work well when you use them together for maximum impact.

The Benefits of Cross-Selling


Cross-selling is a great way for companies to increase sales and profitability with minimal effort and cost while yielding substantial results. Here’s a look at the main benefits of implementing cross-selling techniques for new and existing customers.

Boosts Revenue and Profitability

The biggest benefit of cross-selling is that it can increase your revenue and profitability without adding extra marketing costs. Why? Because you can use your existing customer base to generate more sales.

So, how can you cross-sell to your customers? First, analyze your customer purchase history and identify the products or services that complement each other. For example, if a customer buys a smartphone, you can recommend a phone case or a screen protector. If a customer buys gardening tools, you can suggest buying fertilizer or plant food. Also, ensure that your additional product or service is relevant and useful to help boost customer satisfaction.

Builds Customer Loyalty

Another benefit of cross-selling is that it can help build customer loyalty. Giving your customers relevant and helpful suggestions makes them feel valued and appreciated. This, in turn, builds trust and loyalty. Customers are more likely to return to your business and recommend it to their friends and family.

But how can you make your customers feel valued throughout the customer journey? One way is to personalize your interactions with them. Use their name, remember their preferences or needs, and ask for feedback. This shows that you’re genuinely interested in their satisfaction with your product or service.

Understand Customer Needs Better

Cross-selling can also give you insights into your customer’s needs and preferences throughout the customer journey. By analyzing their purchase history, you can identify patterns and trends in their buying behavior. This can help you better understand their needs and create targeted marketing campaigns that appeal to them.

For example, if a customer buys many baby products, you can assume they have a baby or are expecting one. This information can help you tailor your marketing campaigns to parents or expecting parents. You can also use this information to personalize your offers and discounts. For example, you can discount baby clothes to customers who buy baby shoes.

Increases Customer Lifetime Value

Lastly, cross-selling can increase the lifetime value of your customers. Lifetime value is the amount of revenue a customer generates throughout their relationship with your business. By cross-selling, you’re increasing the initial purchase value and the potential for future sales.

For example, if a customer buys a printer, you can recommend buying ink cartridges or a warranty. This increases the initial purchase value and potential for future sales of ink cartridges or other printer accessories. This increases the customer’s lifetime value and makes them more profitable for your business.

Cross-Selling Examples

Leading companies across various industries have implemented cross-selling strategies that have proven highly successful. Below, we highlight five cross-selling examples to help you brainstorm ideas for your business.


Amazon is the master of cross-selling promotions. When a customer purchases an item, they are shown related items that others have bought in the past. Their “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought” sections rely heavily on cross-selling to drive sales.


Every customer order is a cross-selling opportunity for McDonald’s, which catapults sales. McDonald’s asks if a customer “wants fries with that?” when ordering. This simple question has proven highly effective in driving additional sales. Additionally, their menu boards are strategically designed to highlight combo meals, encouraging customers to purchase multiple items instead of just one.


Apple is notorious for its product suites, like the iPhone, MacBook, and iPad. By offering devices that work seamlessly together, they incentivize customers to purchase additional Apple products to enhance their experience.


Our next cross-selling example is Spotify. When scrolling through the popular music platform, listeners are often shown playlists curated specifically for them based on their listening history. By personalizing the user experience, Spotify encourages users to engage with the platform on a deeper level and spend more time on it.


Sephora has an ongoing cross-selling campaign through a rewards system. The makeup and skincare company lets customers earn points for their purchases that can be redeemed for deluxe samples of new products. This incentivizes customers to make additional purchases to reach the reward threshold and try out new products they may not have purchased otherwise.

How to Create a Successful Cross-Selling Strategy

Cross-selling can significantly grow your revenue, boost customer loyalty, and increase average order value if you get it right. However, it can also easily become a turnoff for some customers if done poorly. So how do you create a successful cross-selling strategy? Here’s a guide to get you started.

Start With Customer Data Analysis

Before you begin any cross-selling activity, it’s important to understand your customers’ behaviors, preferences, and buying patterns. Analyze your customer data to identify their purchasing habits, what motivates them to buy, and their preferred channels throughout the customer journey.

With this information, you can create targeted cross-selling offers that are both relevant and personalized. For example, if a customer recently bought a laptop from you, you could offer them an extended warranty or computer accessories at a discounted price.

Make Cross-Selling Seamless

The more seamless you make the cross-selling process, the more likely customers will accept your offers. Consider integrating cross-sell opportunities into your checkout process or through automated emails post-purchase. You could also present cross-sell recommendations on your most popular product pages. By making your cross-selling campaign convenient and natural, you’ll see better success rates and create a better customer experience.

Know When and What to Offer

When cross-selling, timing is a crucial component. Offering additional products while customers are still engaged and ensuring an attractive price increases the likelihood of acceptance. However, it’s important to remember not to overwhelm your customers with too many options. Instead, select products that complement the original purchase, limit the number of recommendations, and ensure the price point is appropriate for the product and the customer.

Measure and Improve

Tracking and analyzing your progress is essential to achieve better success with cross-selling. Measure key performance indicators like conversion rate, revenue generated, and customer satisfaction to determine your strategy’s effectiveness. Use customer feedback to refine your offers and make data-driven decisions to maximize the results of your cross-selling strategy.

How to Get Your Sales Team to Cross-Sell


Getting your sales reps to cross-sell successfully can be a challenge. Below, we share tips and strategies for encouraging your team to use this crucial sales technique.

Provide Training

One of the most important things you can do to get your sales reps to cross-sell successfully is to provide them with the right sales training. This means giving them the knowledge and skills to identify cross-selling opportunities and close those deals. Ensure your team understands the products or services you offer and how they can benefit your customers. Teach them how to identify each customer’s needs and pain points, allowing them to present relevant and useful cross-selling opportunities.

Use the Right Tools

To cross-sell effectively, your team needs the right tools and resources. This might include software and technology, like CRM software, sales automation tools, or even a product catalog. Providing your team with these tools can help them stay organized, access relevant information quickly, and effectively present cross-selling opportunities to customers.

Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration among your sales team can also lead to more successful cross-selling efforts. Encourage your team to work together to identify cross-selling opportunities and share their experiences and feedback. One way to do this is to hold regular team meetings or training sessions in which your team can discuss their successes and challenges.

Incentivize the Behavior

Finally, another effective way to get your sales team to cross-sell successfully is to provide them with incentives or sales compensation. This might include bonuses or commissions for successful cross-selling efforts, recognition or rewards for top performers, or opportunities for career advancement. Communicate your incentives clearly and measure your team’s progress, so you can track the effectiveness of your program and make adjustments as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Meaning of Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is a sales technique that encourages customers to purchase additional products that complement the items they are buying. Upselling, on the other hand, promotes the sale of a more expensive product to a customer beyond what they originally intended to purchase.

What Is a Cross-Selling Example?

Cross-selling is a sales technique where businesses encourage customers to purchase complementary products or services in addition to their initial purchase. For example, a restaurant may offer customers the opportunity to add a dessert to their meal at an extra cost, while a software provider could offer access to a new feature for a small additional monthly fee.

What Is the Difference Between Upselling and Cross-Selling?

Upselling/cross-selling are related sales techniques used to increase customer spend. Upselling encourages customers to purchase a more expensive or upgraded version of the product they initially intended to buy. Conversely, cross-selling involves recommending and persuading customers to buy complementary products from related categories.

What Is an Example of Upselling and Cross-Selling?

Upselling is when a company persuades customers to purchase a more expensive product or service than they originally intended. Cross-selling is when customers are offered additional, complementary products to add to their existing purchase. Both techniques can be beneficial for companies looking to increase sales and profit.

Summing Up

Cross-selling is a revenue-generating sales tactic that can benefit your business in many ways. Now that you know the cross-selling definition, you can boost your revenue and profitability, build customer loyalty, understand customer needs better, and increase the lifetime value of your customers.

To cross-sell effectively, analyze your customer purchase history, identify relevant and useful products or services, and personalize customer interactions. Remember, cross-selling is not a hard sell but a way to make helpful recommendations based on your customer’s needs and preferences. So, start cross-selling today and watch your business grow!