Difference Between Cross and Upselling

Javi Fondevila

Upselling and cross-selling are two business terms you need to familiarize yourself with, especially if you are selling products and/or services that have different tiers, add-ons, or pricing structures.

To put it simply, upselling is the practice of trying to encourage your customers to purchase a product that is a comparable higher-end product than the one they are considering on. In contrast, cross-selling is where customers buy items or services that are related or complementary to another one.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are two very different things and offer distinct benefits. When done together where possible, though, upselling and cross-selling are mutually beneficial and can provide your customers with maximum possible value.

Tips for Upselling and Cross-Selling

Whether you are running a Shopify or PrestaShop store, you will be able to benefit by learning how to both up and cross-sell.

1. Know which one works best for you

Upselling works 20 times better than cross-selling, however, it may not be the best choice for you. If, for example, you don’t have a “better” or more “premium” version of a product, then you cannot upsell it.

You can’t upsell somebody a TV when they are intending to buy a toaster! You can, however, upsell somebody a better version of one of your toasters if one exists… one might hold two slices whereas the better model holds four. You get the idea, right?

If, however, you sell lots of kitchen appliances, you could cross-sell a complimentary product. If somebody is looking for a toaster then they may also be interested in a kettle or perhaps a blender?

This is the important distinction between the two and why you need to know which one fits you best. There’s little point trying to upsell to somebody when you’ve got nothing to upsell.

2. Offer upsells and cross-sells that make sense

Have you ever been on the phone to a customer service agent trying to solve a problem, only to be bombarded with a million other things?

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

The same applies here.

You should only up and cross-sell when it makes sense to do so, i.e. when the customer may be interested in your offer. Your attempt should solve a problem or need that the customer has there and then. This can be a little more difficult online, however, you can make your website show products that people regularly buy together.

3. Just be honest

If your customers suspect that an up or cross-sell is being made for the sake of it and that it doesn’t have their true interests at heart, they will abandon your site.

Nothing turns a potential customer off more than a desperate attempt to grab more of their money.

If you are trying to up or cross-sell products through your site, don’t try to do it sneakily. Instead, be honest and up-front about it. Transparency and honesty are the keys to success in sales.

4. Explain the value behind the up or cross-sell

Cross-selling and upselling should provide value. If it doesn’t then why should the customer bother parting with more cash than they originally intended to?

Case studies, testimonials, product reviews, and feedback are all ways that you can demonstrate the value between product X and product Y, or supplementing product A with product B. If you can clearly show to a customer why they will benefit from taking the up or cross-sell, chances are that they will follow through with it.

Making sure that the value is clear to your customer is one of the key ingredients to a successful cross or upsell.

5. Remember to reward loyalty

Just because you’ve successfully cross or upsold a product does not mean your job is done.

You should make sure to reward your customer for being loyal and spending more (and of course for trusting in your brand to deliver sound buying advice!)

When a customer decides to take that additional step with you and spend more of their money, make sure that they feel appreciated. Doing this shows that you care and they will be far more likely to return in the future and buy more of what it is you have to offer.

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