Cross-Sell vs Upsell: Training Your Support Teams for Both

Gladly Team

Read Time

5 minute read

Ready to see what radically personal customer service looks like? Sign up for a free demo with Gladly today.

Ecommerce as an industry has long seen support centers as necessary costs to field customer queries. But in recent years, attitudes have started shifting away from this narrative. Customer acquisition is becoming more and more expensive as third-party data becomes obsolete. Meanwhile, loyalty from existing consumers has moved in as the de facto solution for increasing ecommerce revenue in a highly competitive marketplace.

A solid customer experience that emphasizes loyalty is essential to revenue-driving strategies. Additionally, brands understand the importance of empowering customer support agents to cross-sell and upsell.

Cross-selling and upselling will support the company’s growth goals and unlock more revenue opportunities. With the right technology and training, all agents can turn support centers into profit drivers. But for brands new to creating a loyalty-focused support center, there may be questions about the differences between a cross-sell vs. upsell.

The Right Shoppers and Situations

Revenue opportunities depend on how customers feel at the moment. When customer support agents can identify shopper attitudes in real-time, particularly shoppers with purchasing histories, they’re far more likely to turn a brief chat into an action.

This is where personalization technology comes into play. What do you know about your customers? How quickly can your customer support agents access shoppers’ information? All of this can be solved through a radically personal support system that prioritizes people over tickets. Through this data, customer support agents can interpret points when shoppers have the highest potential for additional sales, turning costs into profits.

Cross-Sell vs. Upsell

Let’s map out the difference between a cross-sell vs. upsell.

What is Cross-selling?

Cross-selling uses personalized data to recommend and drive sales for complementary products in your ecommerce catalog.

In the best-case scenario, customer support agents have extensive knowledge and understanding of your retail offerings or how to package different products. This requires access to shoppers’ data, so agents know which customers are most receptive to those products.

Cross-selling can happen in a few different ways. Support teams could suggest different but similar products during or even after a sale. Similarly, agents could recommend products commonly bought together or explain why complementary items are so essential to get the most value.

A truly personal approach would include an agent reaching out post-conversation to indicate to the shopper that their favorite product is back in stock, on sale, or now available in a new variety. Even if every attempt at cross-selling doesn’t end in a more significant purchase, all instances demonstrate your brand’s ability to provide individualized service and give them recommendations they’ll appreciate.


Unlock customer loyalty through natural conversation.

Download now

What Is Upselling?

Upselling is getting shoppers to buy higher-end versions of a product or larger quantities than they were initially planning to purchase.

Similar to cross-selling, upselling requires knowledge of both the customer and the product but emphasizes understanding the immediate customer context. With an upsell, customer support agents need insight into how customers respond to the product and whether they’re returning a product for specific reasons.

Upselling can naturally occur when there are different tiers of the same item, providing an entry point for curious shoppers while letting your well-trained agents drive the (higher) sale home. The most important strategy for upselling is keeping the conversation relevant to each shopper.

Customers already shopping for a premium product are more open to spending more in exchange for better overall quality. Support teams can identify these customers based on the questions they ask and the past purchases they’ve made, leveraging personal data for optimal revenue.

In either situation, support agents should look for other significant indicators, like the questions customers are asking and their channels. Additionally, conversations through email, chat, and social media can quickly push to close a sale, especially when using platforms like Gladly that offer in-conversation payment.

Perfecting the Cross-Sell vs. Upsell

If your ecommerce brand uses its customer support agents and support platforms as part of your revenue strategy, you’re far more likely to see consistent growth than the brands that don’t. By personalizing customer service experiences and loyalty as your key metrics, you can make your customers feel taken care of and empower your agents to recognize the right time to cross-sell vs. upsell. The result: your brand becomes their go-to shopping destination of choice in the future.