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What is Cross-Selling? Definition and Guide

cross selling

What is Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is a sales tactic used to get a customer to spend more by purchasing a product that’s related and or supplementary to what’s being bought already. Cross-selling increases revenue per order.

Cross-Selling vs. Upselling

It’s easy to confuse the cross-selling technique with upselling. Cross-selling involves offering the customer a related product or service, while the upselling tactic typically involves trading up to a better version of what’s being purchased.

Cross-selling examples

Amazon reportedly attributes as much as 35 percent of its sales to cross-selling through its “customers who bought this item also bought” and “frequently bought together” options on every product page. That approach allows a retailer to prompt a shopper to buy a compatible – or necessary – product.

Examples of cross-selling include:  

  • A sales representative at an electronics retailer suggests that the customer purchasing a digital camera also buy a memory card. 
  • The cashier at a fast-food restaurant asks a customer, “Would you like fries with that?” 
  • The check-out form at an ecommerce site prompts the customer to add a popular related product or a required accessory not included in the product being purchased. 
  • A new car dealer suggests the car buyer add a cargo liner or other after-market product when making the initial vehicle purchase. 
  • A clothing retailer displays a complete outfit so the shopper sees how pieces fit together and buys all the pieces instead of just one.

Cross-Selling Best Practices

Best practices for cross-selling success include:

  • Recommend the accessory required for proper operation or use of the product purchased, such as a power cord for a computer printer that doesn’t include one in the box.  
  • Bundle related products so the customer doesn’t need to look for necessary components or accessories. 
  • Offer a discounted price on a bundled product offer to encourage immediate purchase with a temporary price savings.
  • Demonstrate how the additional products work with the product being purchased. 
  • Make it easy for the customer to say “yes” by addressing potential customer objections in the cross-sell conversation. For example, a waiter showing diners the dessert tray can overcome, “I shouldn’t” by suggesting that diners share a dessert.

Cross-selling in the ecommerce environment involves identifying related products and creating appropriate offers while in-person cross-selling could require training in effective approaches. In both cases, though, the goal is to make more money for the company while creating a satisfied customer.