Cross-Selling: Strategies & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Cross-selling, whether in-person or online, is all about 'add-ons' to a consumer's purchase. In this lesson, we look at some strategies for effective cross-selling and some examples of companies doing it right.

Two for the Price of One

Sarah is a new resident of South Carolina, and her apartment complex requires all residents to provide proof of renter's insurance. As she's checking out rates and getting quotes from various providers online, she notices several sites that offer to ''bundle'' her renter's insurance with her auto and pet insurance.

Cross-selling happens when a company can sell more than one product to a consumer.
cross-selling, selling, strategies, examples, bundles, insurance

Figuring she'll save money by keeping all her insurance under one roof, Sarah opts to purchase the renter's and auto policies, and will consider adding pet insurance next month. Perhaps without realizing it, Sarah has been on the receiving end of a selling strategy known as cross-selling.

The Art of Cross-Selling

Cross-selling happens when a business or company works to sell additional, complementary products to a consumer who is already making a purchase. Think about it from a fast-food perspective: Have you ever bought a hamburger and had the fast-food worker ask, ''You want fries with that?'' No, they're not being friendly, nor are they concerned about you getting your belly full. It's a form of cross-selling designed to get you to buy something that ''goes with'' your existing purchase, which generates more revenue for the business. How about these other examples you've likely encountered:

  • You go to your bank to open a checking account, and the banker asks if you want a savings account as well.
  • You buy a new smartphone from your cell provider, and they offer you a discount on cases and chargers.
  • You purchase a new SUV, and the car salesman suggests a cargo liner for your trunk to protect your interior.

So, how does cross-selling work? Or, better yet, how can a business use it to its fullest extent and advantage? Let's look at some strategies to develop a robust cross-selling plan.


If you're looking for ways to make the most of cross-selling opportunities, consider these strategies:

  • Build the right product mix: If you own an electronics store, be certain to stock your shelves with products that consumers are likely to buy in order to accessorize their new purchase. Things like batteries, chargers, cables, memory cards, cases, and bags can help entice consumers into making an additional purchase.
  • Think about positioning: It may not be possible to put every item you want to sell within reach of the cash register (think about the gum and candy in the aisles at the supermarket), but place items where they make sense for add-on buying.
  • Train your workers to cross-sell the value to the consumer: It's important that consumers see the bigger picture in your cross-sell attempts. For example, you want a consumer to buy the cargo liner for their car because of the protection it'll offer and the durability it will provide from the time you first drive the car off the lot.
  • Understand the timing: While the rules for internet cross-selling differ somewhat, cross-selling in-person can be a little trickier. Sales representatives must understand the right time to cross-sell other products and services to consumers. The start of the conversation is not right; neither is the middle. Typically, cross-selling is most effective toward the end of the sale when the customer's initial need has been met.
  • Segment consumers: Understanding the types of customers you have by segmenting them into everything from gender, geography, or buying behaviors enable you to strike while the iron is hot. When you know who your customers are, you're better equipped to present the right offer at the right time to the right person.

Cross-Selling Examples

Cross-selling examples are all around us. Here are a few you may have encountered.

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