Cross-Selling in Retail: Techniques & Examples

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian has an MBA and is a real estate investor, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson we will review examples of how cross-selling techniques can be used by retail employees to boost store revenue and profitability as well as increase customer satisfaction.


Bill is a manager at a local big-box retail store. One of his responsibilities is to help increase sales to meet daily revenue goals. As a trainer and supervisor of front-line employees, Bill is in a fantastic position to educate and motivate those employees in the art of cross-selling. Let's take a look at what cross-selling is and how it can help meet these business goals.


When customers come into a store, they often have something specific in mind that they're looking to buy. Often there are other things they might need or want but aren't aware of it. Cross-selling is when a retail employee sells a customer on purchasing a closely related or complementary product. When done professionally, this can increase customer satisfaction and business revenue. In many situations the items that can be cross-sold have a high profit margin. Let's see some of the examples Bob uses to inform his new employees.

Retail Examples

Suppose Tom comes into the store looking for a new cell phone. Bill takes the time to discuss options with Tom, and once Tom makes a choice, there is an opportunity to practice cross-selling. For example, Bill can use a presumptive approach with Tom and recommend a few different protective phone cases. In this situation Bill works off the assumption that Tom will be buying a case anyway, and this may motivate Tom to go ahead and choose a case as part of that transaction. An example would be asking Tom if he wants a case that has waterproofing or something with an extra battery pack in it. At this point in the conversation Tom is primed to make a purchase and just needs to decide which phone case model to buy.

While the two head over to the register, Bill remembers that there are many items that might be of interest to Tom to go along with his new phone. Bill can ask Tom if he needs any extra power cables, battery packs, or insurance policies. This is called suggestive selling. Adding this technique to the sales interaction triggers a thought in Tom's head that it would be nice to have an extra cable to stay at his office. These are the sort of high-margin items that can result in even greater profitability for the store than selling the actual phone. This is because the markup on the accessories is often higher than on the more expensive products. Tom will probably agree to the purchase of an extra power cable since it makes sense to him, and spending $15 on a cable doesn't seem like an excessive expense when he is buying a $600 phone.

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