Cross-Sell vs. Upsell: What’s the Difference?


Upselling and cross-selling are two related but distinct sales tactics that small business owners can use to increase revenue. Here’s the difference between cross-sell vs. upsell:

Cross-selling is when you suggest a related product or service to an existing customer.

  • Offering to show your dress shirt and tie collections to a customer purchasing a suit is a good example of cross-selling in retail.
  • By introducing more products and services to customers, you help them discover new reasons to do business with you, while potentially boosting your sales.

Customers make a purchase after business owner uses cross-sell vs. upsell tactics

Upselling is when you encourage customers to consider a more expensive or upgraded version of a product or service — whether it offers more features, higher-grade materials or other improvements over the basic option.

  • To understand how upselling works, think of a plumber suggesting that a customer purchase a water heater with a bigger tank. Upselling works best when the upgrade being offered aligns with the customer’s needs.
  • Knowing how to upsell effectively, by listening to customers’ needs, will build trust and increase your bottom line.

Learning how and when to cross-sell vs. upsell is an important skill for your sales team to master; you’ll move inventory more quickly and your sales team will rack up those commission checks.

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