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Cross-selling vs upselling: what’s the difference?

Alicia Schneider 7 min read
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What’s better for your business: cross-selling or upselling?

The truth is that both are great marketing strategies but should be used in different scenarios. In order to maximize revenue and improve customer satisfaction, using a mix of both strategies will help your business thrive.

That said, it’s important to understand the difference between cross-selling and upselling to know when it’s best to employ each one. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between the two, some cross-selling tips, and how to use work productivity tools like to make the most of your strategies.

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What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is a sales technique used to encourage customers to purchase additional, related products. Let’s say you’re ordering a burger at McDonald’s and the cashier asks, “would you like fries with that?” This would be an example of cross-selling since she’s offering you an additional product that’s related to what you intended to purchase.

What is upselling?

By contrast, upselling is a sales technique used to get customers to buy a more expensive or upgraded version of a product or service they’re already intent on purchasing. Taking the same example of placing a McDonald’s order, upselling enters the picture when the cashier asks you “would you like to supersize that?” You’re still getting what you ordered, a burger, but the seller is trying to get you to increase your bill by adding another patty or increasing the burger’s size.

What’s the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

While both cross-selling and upselling are meant to increase a seller’s bottom line, there are differences in the way both of these tactics are approached.

Upselling is designed to increase the value of one purchase while cross-selling is designed to increase the total number of items a customer purchases.

Additionally, upselling typically focuses on a single product, while cross-selling involves selling multiple products.

Another thing to take into account here is the buyer’s intention. In both scenarios, the buyer only intended to purchase one item. With upselling, the intention is to get the buyer to purchase a better or higher-quality version of what they wanted. Cross-selling goes a step further and offers different products that aren’t what a shopper intended to buy, but might make a purchase more enjoyable, well-rounded, or balanced.

5 tips for successful cross-selling

Cross-selling is an important part of any successful sales strategy. With the right approach, businesses can increase their customer loyalty and boost profits. Here are some tips for successful cross-selling.

1. Know your audience

To effectively cross-sell, you need to know your customers’ needs and preferences. Take the time to understand what they’re looking for as well as their budget. You can do this by creating a buyer persona, gathering data such as demographic information, or collecting customer feedback. You should also look at your customers’ previous purchases to understand what they shop for so you can \tailor your cross-selling approach to each customer.

2. Understand the customer journey

Understanding the customer journey helps cross-selling by allowing businesses to identify opportunities to offer complementary products or services throughout the customer experience. By evaluating the customer’s buying pattern, needs, and behavior, businesses can more accurately determine which products or services could be beneficial to them, and when the best time to present them is. Building out a customer journey map is a good way to understand when to cross-sell the most relevant products or services.

3. Identify related products

Before putting any cross-selling strategy into motion, you first need to identify which products to cross-sell with each purchase. You can do this by offering related items, for example, a laptop case if a customer purchases a laptop. Another way to identify related items is to look at what items other customers have purchased together.

4. Create bundles

Creating bundles can help cross-selling and upselling by enabling customers to purchase multiple related items at once, often at a discount, and thus make a larger purchase. According to research, bundling accounts for 10-30% of eCommerce revenue.

This is common with software where multiple apps are grouped together in a bundle. For example, someone shopping for Photoshop might be enticed to purchase a bundle of Adobe apps for a slightly higher price. By bundling different apps together, Adobe is also introducing new products to customers that they may not have known about or been interested in buying on their own. This helps to increase the visibility of products, build awareness, and potentially drive more sales.

5. Use Multiple Channels

Cross-selling isn’t limited to just one channel. Use a combination of channels, including email, social media, and in-person sales, to reach customers and maximize your chances of success and always make sure you’re tracking your different campaigns on a work tool like Additionally, implementing sales scripts ensures consistent messaging across all channels, enabling your team to effectively communicate the benefits of cross-selling to customers.

Text messages have proven to be a cost-efficient and effective way to cross-sell and upsell. In fact, the CTR for SMS is over 9% higher than any other digital sales channel, offering a unique opportunity to cross-sell by text. Social selling is another way to cross-sell items to your customers. When working with influencers, make sure to ask them to include supplementary products to promote.

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Help your team cross-sell with

Cross-selling is a great strategy to use to grow your bottom line, but if it’s not done in an intentional and organized way, you can end up confusing your customers. To ensure you’re creating a solid cross-selling or upselling plan, gather customer information on so that you can better understand their journeys and offer relevant products. Here’s how can help.

Use as a CRM tool CRM example

As a CRM software, allows you to collect customer information in one place to better understand their needs. This way, you can develop stronger relationships with your customers, which will help you offer the right products and services when cross-selling.

Manage multichannel campaigns multichannel campaign management

With, you can accurately track and manage your multichannel campaigns so that your team knows what’s going on across the board. This will help you reach customers where they are and enable you to organize the right products to promote.

Gather customer data survey results

Another way to better understand your customers and which products are relevant for them is simply asking them. offers a survey tool that presents the results as data for you to analyze and gather information about your clients and their needs and preferences. You can also integrate your existing third-party survey tools, like SurveyMonkey.

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How can you improve cross-selling?

Segmenting customers, personalizing offers, automating communications, and collecting and analyzing customer data will all help you identify and improve cross-selling opportunities.

How do you upsell a product?

For an upsell to be convincing, you need to show how it adds value. You can do this by highlighting its features and benefits and demonstrating positive reviews of the product. Additionally, you want to create a sense of urgency so that the customer acts quickly in order to take advantage of the offer.

How do you upsell a customer?

From a customer perspective, it’s important that sellers understand their needs and ultimate goals. That way, you can make personalized recommendations when upselling products that are more likely to be welcomed by the customer.

Make cross-selling a part of your marketing strategy

Cross-selling can be used as a tool to increase revenue and customer loyalty, but only if it’s based on reliable data and organized effectively. will allow you to understand your customers on a deeper level so that you can ensure you’re presenting them with the right products when cross-selling or upselling. With the right approach, cross-selling can help you differentiate your business from your competitors while also increasing your bottom line.

Alicia is a digital marketing and tech freelance writer with a passion for turning complex jargon into engaging content that everyone can understand.
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