Rafat Abushaban

- Sales #  O 6K views   اقرأ بالعربية

Summary: Bundling relevant products or services together when selling them to increase profitability

Cross-selling is a sales technique aiming to convince the customer to purchase additional separate items that can go together as a “bundle” resulting in raising the cost of sold products or services and increasing the profit margin for the sales person.


In practice, this technique can be implemented to enlighten the customers of additional products or services that will help improve the customer experience; or might be used as a trick to convince the customer to buy additional goods or features they don’t need just to increase the profit of the sale, therefore ethics have a role to play here.

Cross-selling examples

Cross-selling can be conducted in multiple fields, such as:

  • A web hosting service prompts customers to include additional security features and email service in as part of their annual renewal process.
  • A restaurant suggests drinks to go with their standard meals.
  • A paid mobile app/game that offers additional features and power-ups to the game character for a small fee.

Cross-selling vs. Upselling vs. Down-selling

Cross-selling can be done in environments where other offering techniques are used either separately or together. Most common types include Upselling and Down-selling.
Take a fast-food restaurant for example that utilizes the three sales' techniques altogether.

  • Cross-selling: offering a fast food meal containing a burger, fries and soda as one package.
  • Upselling: Offering a bigger bag of fries instead of the normal, cheaper one.
  • Down-selling: offering a cheaper smaller size drink than the large one.

Although some of these techniques seem an opposite of others, utilizing them correctly can actually help the business grow and gain more customer loyalty and trust. Learn more about Cross-selling, Upselling, and Down-selling via these links to get a better picture on what each of these mean, and how to apply them in practice.

Tips for well-planned cross-selling

Cross-selling might sound easy to do: Just throw in a few items together and sell them. In reality, it is much harder than that. Understanding the following tips can help entrepreneurs think of cross-selling for their startups:

  • Join together products that go well together: For example, selling an HDMI cable for a new TV that only comes with the VGA cable out-of-box.
  • Join products that complement each other: For example, selling headphones for a new mobile phone that doesn't have headphones out-of-box.
  • Offer a discount for relevant products: For example, a restaurant offering a salad for 50% off with the standard meal.

Steps to include cross-selling in your offerings:

When done correctly, cross-selling can be a great booster for revenue generated from business transactions. Here are essential steps to take in order to smoothly utilize the power of cross-selling:

  1. Understanding the customer

    Understanding the customers of the business is essential in order to correctly address their needs once and again, leading to trust and loyalty. This means not only addressing the problem or pain faced by the customer, but also collecting feedback from customers on the products and services you offer in order to understand gaps in the value proposition and fix them.

  2. Building customer loyalty

    As mentioned above, cross-selling can be misused easily, and therefore customers view sellers trying to cross-sell their products and services as shady and manipulative. It is thus essential to ease this fear and raise customer trust, and make then feel that the cros s-sell is for their own benefit, not the seller's.
    Raising customer loyalty and trust is no easy feat. Big brands can utilize loyalty for their brand recognition and reach, but the story is completely different for startups and small businesses. Here, loyalty requires time, energy, and repetitive purchases for a standard customer to start trusting a business or startup. A good practice to help raise loyalty is keeping things personal and direct with customers: It is much better to have 100 loyal customers than 1,000 one-off customers.

  3. Keeping customer priorities first

    Once you build trust and locality, you should keep and grow it. This is done by understanding what the customer wants exactly, and finding ways to keep their priority needs as priority business goals. This way, the customer can feel at ease and that your business is keeping their interest and well-being as a priority.

  4. Getting it right

    Even after doing all of the above points, understanding what works for cross-selling from what doesn't is essential. Not all products make sense in an cross-selling mechanism. Wisely choose what you are cross-selling for in order to keep that loyalty and trust high.

Rafat Abushaban

Founder of Riable and consultant to several international organizations in entrepreneurship education and researcher in innovation systems and seed funding methods with 10+ years of practical experience in the MENA region, Europe, US and S.Korea
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