Cross Selling

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what is cross selling

Ever wondered how stores convince you to grab that bag of chips or phone case alongside your main purchase? That’s called cross selling. 

It’s a sales strategy where businesses recommend complementary products to increase sales and enhance the customer experience. But there’s more to it than just adding extras to your bill. 

This article will explain cross selling to you. By the end, you will be able to know about:

So, let’s start with the basics.

What is cross selling?

Cross selling is a sales technique that convinces a customer to buy an additional product or service along with their initial purchase. The additional items are usually related to the first product, and complement it in some way.

For instance, if a customer buys a new printer, a salesperson might recommend ink cartridges or paper to go along with it. This is because the ink and paper are complementary products that the customer will likely need to use their printer.

The business increases its revenue by selling more products, and the customer gets a more complete solution for their needs.

Benefits of cross selling

Cross selling offers a bunch of advantages for businesses, both financially and in terms of customer relationships. Some of them are

Increased revenue and sales  

By convincing customers to add complementary products or services to their purchase, you boost your sales and overall revenue.

Higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)  

CLTV, or Customer Lifetime Value, refers to the total revenue a customer brings in over their relationship with your business. Effective cross-selling encourages repeat business and increases CLTV by maximizing the value of each customer.

Improved Customer Satisfaction 

When done right, cross selling isn’t just about pushing extra products. It’s about offering solutions that genuinely complement the customer’s initial purchase and enhance their experience. This can lead to happier customers.

Stronger Customer Loyalty  

By showing you understand their needs and can provide everything they require, cross selling fosters trust and builds stronger relationships with customers, making them more likely to stick with your brand.

More Efficient Use of Resources  

Acquiring new customers is often more expensive than selling to existing ones. cross selling leverages existing customer relationships, reducing marketing spend needed to find new buyers.

Reduced Inventory Costs 

Cross selling can help move slower-moving items or those that might otherwise be overlooked by customers. This helps optimize inventory levels and potentially reduce storage costs.

Deeper Understanding of Customers  

Cross selling efforts can provide valuable insights into customer needs and buying habits. By tracking what products are frequently cross-sold together, businesses can gain a better understanding of their customers’ preferences.

Cross selling Vs. Upselling

Upselling and cross selling are both sales techniques that aim to increase a customer’s purchase value. However, they target the customer’s buying decisions in different ways. Here’s a breakdown of their key differences:

FocusUpgrades customer to a higher-tier version of the same product or a closely substitute productSells complementary products
Product OfferingConcentrates on selling a higher-tier version of the same product line.Introduces additional products from different categories that complement the main product.
CustomerShifts customer intent to a more expensive optionExpands customer intent with additional products
Selling ApproachEmphasizes the additional value and benefits the upgraded product offers, highlighting how it better addresses the customer’s needs.focuses on how the additional products can improve the functionality or enjoyment of the main product, emphasizing convenience and a complete solution.
ComplexityGenerally simpler (pre-defined upgrades)Requires more knowledge of product portfolio
ExampleYou are looking at a basic laptop. The salesperson convinces you to upgrade to a model with a faster processor and more storage, highlighting the benefits for multitasking and gaming.You have decided to buy a new camera. The salesperson suggests purchasing a camera bag, memory card, and cleaning kit to complete your photography setup.

Cross selling examples


You’re browsing the Apple website looking at a new iPhone.

Cross-Sell Technique: Apple strategically places “Add to Cart” options for complementary items like AirPods, a charging case, or a protective phone case right next to the iPhone itself. They might also highlight a bundled package with the phone, headphones, and a care plan at a slightly discounted price.


You’re ordering a burger at McDonald’s.

Cross-Sell Technique: The cashier asks the classic, “Would you like fries with that?” Fries are a popular side dish that complements a burger, and the cashier is prompting you to consider adding them to your order.


You’ve just purchased a new coffee maker on Amazon.

Cross-Sell Technique: Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” section below the product description displays coffee filters, mugs, and ground coffee beans that other customers often purchase with the coffee maker. This nudges you to consider these additional items that might be useful with your new appliance.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

You’re looking at a new baseball bat at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Cross-Sell Technique: A salesperson might suggest buying batting gloves, baseball pants, or cleats to complete your baseball gear. These are all relevant products that would enhance your experience with the bat.


You’re browsing lipsticks at Sephora.

Cross-Sell Technique: Sephora’s staff might recommend a lip liner in a shade that complements the lipstick you’re interested in. They might also showcase a makeup brush specifically designed for applying lipstick. These additional products help you achieve a complete lip look.


A company signs up for Salesforce’s core CRM platform.

Cross-Sell Technique: Salesforce might suggest adding modules for marketing automation, customer service management, or analytics tools that integrate seamlessly with their CRM platform. This allows the company to expand its use of Salesforce and gain a more comprehensive view of its customer interactions.

Palo Alto Networks 

A company purchases Palo Alto’s next-generation firewall for network protection.

Cross-Sell Technique: Palo Alto might recommend adding their endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution to provide a layered security approach. They could also suggest threat intelligence feeds that offer real-time updates on the latest cyber threats. This comprehensive security package safeguards the company’s network and data at multiple levels.

How to cross sell?

Cross selling can be a powerful tool to increase your sales and customer satisfaction, but it requires a well-defined strategy and effective techniques. 

You can follow the steps below to cross-sell effectively. 

Step 1: Understanding Your Customers

Analyze purchase history, browsing habits, and past interactions to identify buying patterns and product preferences. This allows you to recommend relevant add-ons.

Step 2: Segmenting Your Audience

Based on demographics, purchase history, or interests. This helps customize cross-sell recommendations to each segment’s specific needs.

Step 3: Personalization

Use customer data to suggest products that complement their initial purchase and interests. This increases the perceived value and relevance of your recommendations.

Step 4: Right Timing

Don’t bombard customers with cross-sells at checkout. Offer them during the buying journey when it’s relevant, like after adding a product to the cart or during browsing-related categories.

Step 5: Effective Techniques

  • Product Bundles: Create bundled packages that combine the main product with popular complementary items at a discounted price.
  • Upselling with cross selling: Sometimes, you can suggest a slightly upgraded version of the main product (upselling) and then recommend add-ons for that upgraded version (cross selling).
  • Limited-Time Offers: Create a sense of urgency with limited-time discounts or promotions on cross-sold products.
  • Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Showcase positive reviews and testimonials for the cross-sold products to build trust and encourage purchases.
  • Data-Driven Recommendations: Utilize sales data to identify frequently bought-together products and leverage this insight for automated cross-sell suggestions.
  • Loyalty Programs: Reward repeat customers with points or discounts for buying cross-sold items, incentivizing them to explore your product range.
  • Focus on Value: Always emphasize how the cross-sold product will enhance the customer’s experience with the initial purchase. Don’t make it seem like a pushy sales tactic.
  • Provide Clear Information: Ensure product descriptions and visuals for cross-sold items are clear and informative, allowing customers to make informed decisions.
  • Track and Analyze Results: Monitor the effectiveness of your cross selling strategies. Analyze which tactics work best and adjust your approach accordingly.

Step 6: Highlight the Benefits

Always emphasize how the cross-sold product will improve the customer’s experience with the initial purchase. Don’t make it seem like a pushy sales tactic. Explain the added functionality, convenience, or efficiency the extra product brings.

Step 7: Transparency is Key 

Ensure product descriptions and visuals for cross-sold items are clear and informative. Customers should be able to make well-informed decisions without confusion.

Step 8: Measure Your Success 

Monitor the effectiveness of your cross selling strategies. Analyze which tactics work best for different customer segments and product categories. Use this data to continually refine your approach and maximize its impact.

Takeaway on cross sell

Cross selling is a win-win for businesses and customers. By recommending relevant add-ons, businesses can increase sales and provide a more complete solution. Customers benefit from a more enjoyable experience with their initial purchase. 

Focus on value, personalized recommendations, and time your cross-sell offers strategically. By using effective techniques and tracking results, you can develop a customer-centric approach that boosts sales and strengthens relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a cross selling example?

Imagine buying a new camera. A salesperson might recommend a memory card, carrying case, or extra lens to complete your photography kit. These are all related products that enhance your camera experience.

What’s the difference between cross selling and upselling?

They both aim to increase sales but target purchases differently. Cross selling suggests complementary items, like a phone case with a new phone. Upselling focuses on upgrading the main product, like a higher-tier laptop with more features.

What are some common cross selling techniques?

Product bundles (discounted package with main product and add-ons), limited-time offers (urgency to buy extras), and highlighting customer reviews (build trust in recommended products).

Can cross selling fail?

Yes! Pushy tactics or irrelevant suggestions can backfire. Focus on value and suggest items that genuinely compliment the purchase.

How can you measure the effectiveness of cross selling?

Track metrics like average order value (total spent per customer) and conversion rate (customers who buy extras). This shows if your cross selling efforts are increasing sales.

How to improve cross selling?

Understand your customers (analyze purchase history) and personalize recommendations. Use data-driven insights (what products are frequently bought together) to suggest relevant add-ons.  Track results and adjust your approach for maximum impact.

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