How to Cross-Sell and Increase Revenue by Using Top-Notch Sales Techniques?

"Would you like fries with that”? McDonald’s already knows the answer. And what seems like a simple, innocent and effortless question allows the fast food giant to sell over four million kilograms of fries globally every day, which accounts for 25-40% of McDonald’s annual revenue. 

A burger is ordered, a drink is chosen and then fries are added. You’re about to check out and pay when you hear the magic proposition to upsize your pre-selected drink for as little as 50 cents. What seems like a good deal is also a perfect example of using classic tried and tested techniques that have worked for ages – cross-selling and upselling. People often use these terms interchangeably without clear understanding about what exactly each one is, so this article will help you understand the differences, and how to deploy the techniques effectively in your strategy to boost your profit margin. 

What is cross-selling and how does it differ from upselling?

To put it simply, cross-selling is used to drive up the value of a sale transaction. Whether in store or online, this technique can be put into action as soon as a buyer adds an item to their shopping cart.

  1. Cross-selling offers a customer a related or complementary product that will improve their experience and bring maximum value to their purchase. Sephora’s use cases of cross-selling made headlines. Imagine you walk into a store to buy a single eyeshadow and you leave with a $220 bill. Impossible? Not at Sephora. The beauty store uses bundles of make-up products to let customers add items they like within specific guidelines. This option incentivizes the customers to buy the package set (trial set, travel set, sample set, and more) with their favorite products.
  2. Upselling refers to an upgrade to a product or service. The idea of upselling is to serve customers more in quantity or quality of what they are already buying. One example of quality here is selling a premium offer by suggesting a more expensive item. Focusing on quantity might, for example, tempt the customer with a special offer to buy more of a product or service. It includes things like offering an upgrade to business class on your flight, adding a more comprehensive or extended product warranty whenever buying a new phone, or simply recommending extra menu items for your next lunch.

Do these cross-selling and upselling strategies sound familiar to you? If so, great! But if you’re not yet familiar with these techniques, you need to know that, if you leveraged them properly, you could improve profit margin, average order value and average revenue per customer, and set your business up for long-term success. It’s never too late. Let’s explore them now and find out how to send your profit margin through the roof.


I didn’t know you had that – effective cross-selling campaigns

Even your most loyal customers are not fully aware about the portfolio of products you offer. Most repeat purchases are done on autopilot, which means customers are usually focused on this one thing they’ve been buying with you constantly. Spice up this encounter by identifying your best-performing products or services. Since you already know that customers like specific products, start promoting them more. Use your most (and highest) reviewed products to help identify what you should be upselling. If current shoppers are leaving positive reviews, it is very likely that new customers will gravitate towards the same products. You can easily identify cross-sell offers by figuring out which items are most commonly bought together. If you see a certain buying pattern with some customers, it’s likely that others will be interested and opt for the same packages. 

Knowing your customers is crucial. Have you heard about data being the new oil? Of course, you have. But did you realize that oil is useless until it’s properly refined? It’s the same with data – we need appropriate tools that can analyze the information and measure the results. Once you accumulate a vast amount of information, you can leverage machine learning to help analyze buying patterns and recommend the best product for your customers. That’s why having a loyalty program that collects first-party data about customer behavior and lifestyle preferences has become a must for every organization.

Remember to suggest best-fitting products. Not only will this ensure that you are making the most of your upsells, it also gives a healthy margin if you do decide to discount the item to incentivize more customers to take your offer. 

I didn’t know I needed that – discover cross-selling potential

Make sure the high-margin products you upsell are providing relevant value to address the problem the customer is looking to solve. Forcing a product on a client just to make an extra buck is a perfect recipe to lose the sale – and the customer, too. 

We all know it costs a lot less to keep a client happy than to find another one. And it costs a whole lot less to sell more to them than it does to find new clients too. This is why you should never underestimate the importance of your existing satisfied clients. The key is to demonstrate your understanding of their needs, and bring to their attention relevant and useful services that you provide, at the right time.

I didn’t know I can afford that  – identify cross-selling opportunities

Yes, you can! And it’s thanks to the down-selling technique. You might not even have heard of this one, but the benefits that come with it are worth mentioning. In short, down-selling offers more budget-friendly alternatives to the products that your client wanted to purchase at first but almost decided to walk away with an empty basket. Here is when you come into the picture with an incredible (and cheaper) offer to keep clients happy and persuade them to make the final purchase.

Of course, selling your products at a higher price tag would lead to a better profit margin. However, down-selling helps you to close a sale faster even when the customer can’t afford the full price at that moment. Half a loaf is better than no loaf.

You may not generate the expected revenue, but you will acquire a customer. Once they are satisfied, they are much more likely to buy higher priced items from your store in the future. Don’t forget that down-selling also builds brand loyalty. It helps you access more buyers with varying budgets, and allows you to make a sale even if they cannot afford a premium product.


Cross-selling cheat sheet – technics you need to master 

Don’t push your selling efforts too hard, and try to keep them to a minimum. At the end of the day, you don’t want to get into sleazy car salesman territory. Keep it simple and remember about these best practices:

  1. Keep your upsells relevant
  2. Promote your best-selling products
  3. Show products frequently bought together
  4. Reduce decision complexity (narrow down choices, create bundles)
  5. Personalize via customer transaction history (if available)
  6. Add urgency
  7. Display reviews and social interactions
  8. Create value packages
  9. Be transparent

Using these cross-selling techniques will help you save time and money, increase customer lifetime value, and build profitable and engaging relationships with customers. Notice a common theme between the benefits? At their root, they come down to one thing: ensuring you don’t miss out on potential earnings and make profits.


Before we close, remember the most advantageous e-commerce sites combine cross-selling, upselling and down-selling to find the best way to maximize profits with each buyer. Cross-selling increases cart value and customer equity. Upselling results in a better profit margin and improves customer satisfaction rates. Down-selling helps you access more buyers with varying budgets and allows you to make a sale. Make sure to keep customers' needs at the front of you mind instead of just blindly pushing products. 

To learn more about cross-selling, request a demo with our Loyalty Experts! We will match you with an experiences Loyalty Consultant with experience in your unique market space and industry. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Cross-Selling

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is the art of encouraging customers to purchase products in addition to the original items. Cross-selling increases cart value and customer equity.

What is the difference between cross-selling and upselling

The difference between cross-selling and upselling is that upselling motivates customers to buy a higher-end version of a product. No matter which strategy you choose, make sure you know your audience and you will be able to offer solutions they’ve been looking for. 



Marlena Półrola
Marlena Półrola
Loyalty Consultant

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