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The difference between up selling and cross selling

Can you explain the difference between up selling and cross selling? Can you provide some scenarios where cross selling is ideal and some scenarios where up selling is more suitable?

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The difference between up selling and cross selling are fairly nuanced, which is why many sales reps and marketers talk about cross selling and up selling as a single discipline. Philosophically, when sales reps up sell, they convince your customers to increase the value of their orders (both to you and to them) by:


  • Moving "up" to a more expensive version of what they're already considering purchasing (e.g., the eight cylinder vehicle instead of the six cylinder)
  • Adding to their orders with additional vertically related products or services (e.g., The classic, "Would you like fries with that?"; or the extended warranty)
  • By "vertically related" I mean products or services that enhance or are related to the core or base product. Whereas a cross sell refers to sales of another product/service type horizontally related (i.e., another type of product/service usually orthogonally related if at all) to what you're already considering. For instance, if you purchase a new vehicle and the dealer encourages you to use the manufacturer's auto financing capabilities, that's a cross sell. Another cross selling example is when you call the reservation center of an airline and at the end of your call the agent asks if you'll need a rental car in your destination city; and if so, she'd be delighted to connect you to one of their car rental partners.


    Editor's note: Get tips for motivating call center agents to  up sell and cross sell.



This was first published in January 2007

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