The Art of the Cross-Sell: Making Customers Happy to Spend More

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Picture this: you’re at the beach on a scorching hot day. You walk a long way down the beach to a vendor and get your favorite cold drink. As you are being served, the girl behind the counter asks if you would like some fries too.

Suddenly, you realize that you are hungry. Those fries really smell good. A few minutes later you are happily enjoying your icy cold drink and perfectly seasoned fries under the shade of a festively colored umbrella.

Let’s break down the story from a retailer’s perspective. The first transaction was to fulfill a known need/desire. The second desire did not appear until it was suggested. The suggestion made sense and fit your needs at that time.

You went away feeling good about the exchange. You were, in fact, quite happy to spend more in order to gain something you didn’t even know you wanted (until you had the opportunity to have it). That is the essence of the cross-sell. Although they are slightly different, it is sometimes called up-selling or an add on.

To be clear, up-selling means selling a higher priced version of an item, while cross-selling means offering another product or service that compliments the first alongside the original, such as a printer that works with the computer they just bought.


When done properly, the customer will not only spend more, they will be happier and more likely to remain a loyal customer over time. Interestingly, a 2014 study by the Harvard Review noted that while the chance of a new customer buying a given service or item is only 5-20%, the likelihood of an existing customer buying the same offerings is 60-70%. Moreover, the same research showed that it is 5-25 times more costly to lure in a new customer than it is to keep a repeat customer.

To do it right though, you must realize that it is not about pushing a customer into buying more. Instead, it is about creating an authentically better experience for them. It is about creating value and delivering something they honestly want or need.


If you are looking to boost profits, you need to train your team to actively cross-sell by looking for opportunities to improve the customer’s journey. In other words, they need to understand how the customer will benefit from the product and how they will use it.


To do that, you must actively listen and offer real life solutions that work for the customer. If you do not know them, how can you create a better experience? You need to offer upsells that work for them, based on their perspective and needs.


Remember too that no one likes to be pressured into making a purchase. Instead, offer items and or services that make sense in the customer’s world by showing them the benefits that they would get from an added option.

At Nova, we offer leading edge retail technology solutions to help you do more and go further. With seamlessly integrated options like targeted inventory management, customer loyalty programs, controlled negotiations, and more, Nova has the point of sale solutions you need to manage and run your business from the palm of your hand.

Call 1-888-370-6682 today or click here for more information.

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