How Can Customer Support Help Upsell and Cross-Sell?

Every business has their own unique mission and vision and a unique set of products or services. But they all share one common goal: drive more sales. And this is a goal that requires effort from every department and team within a company. Even employees that don’t directly sell to customers have an impact on this goal.

But one team that has the potential to make a clear impact on sales and revenue is customer support. Although support teams typically engage with customers after they’ve made a purchase, they still have plenty of opportunities to drive sales. That’s especially true if they focus on upselling and cross-selling.

And if you’re not quite sure what this means, or how your support team can drive revenue for your company, keep reading. In this post, we’ll explain the role customer support can play in generating revenue, as well as five tips your support team can use to drive upsells and cross-sells.

What are Upselling and Cross-selling?

Upselling and cross-selling are both extremely valuable techniques for driving revenue. They both involve marketing to your existing customer base but in slightly different ways.  

Companies with an ongoing subscription model often use upselling. In this case, it involves getting users to upgrade to a higher tier of membership or service and, as a result, spend more with the company each month. It’s also used by ecommerce companies to increase average order values by suggesting premium products.

Cross-selling, on the other hand, involves suggesting additional products or services that work in conjunction with the customer’s existing purchase.

To illustrate the difference between the two, imagine that you’re shopping for a new smartphone. You have your eye on a year-old model, but after a salesperson explains the added features and benefits that come with a newer, more expensive model, you purchase that one instead. That’s upselling.

Now, let’s say the salesperson also convinces you to purchase a screen protector and new headphones to go with the smartphone. That’s cross-selling.

The benefits of each of these strategies are primarily the same. They both generate more revenue from each customer. And when done correctly, they also have the potential to benefit your customers. After all, the better a product they receive, and the better they’re able to use that product as a result of accessories and add-ons, the better experience they’ll have with your brand.

5 Tips for Driving Upsells and Cross-sells with Customer Support  

Although we often think of upselling and cross-selling as tactics solely used by salespeople, your support team can also use them to drive revenue.

That said, using them successfully requires a bit more strategy and tact. So with that in mind, here are five tips your support team can use to effectively upsell and cross-sell during their interactions with customers.

#1 Offer Upsells Based on the Customer’s Needs and Goals

The most effective way to make upsells and cross-sells is to tailor recommendations to a customer’s needs and goals. After all, customers don’t typically reach out to support teams with the goal of hearing a sales pitch — so generic suggestions that they upgrade to a more expensive product or higher membership tier are unlikely to be well-received.

Instead, take the time to learn why a customer chose your brand in the first place. Determine what their goals are, and how your products or services help them meet those goals.

Then, aim to identify ways in which additional or upgraded products could help them reach those goals more effectively or efficiently. This way, when you attempt to upsell or cross-sell, you can back your pitch up with clear, specific examples of the benefits to that customer.

For example, let’s say your product is a project management platform, and a customer reaches out with a question about managing multiple user accounts. After providing a resolution, you ask a few questions and learn that the primary goal in using your product is improving their team’s productivity and efficiency.

Based on this information, you point out that the next tier of your product includes time-tracking features, and explain the role those features can play in boosting productivity. By taking the time to provide a personalized pitch, you drastically increase the chances that the customer will take you up on your offer.

#2 Focus on Providing Value

As you look for ways to make upsells and cross-sells, it’s essential to keep the focus on delivering value. This means not only coming up with ways to explain the value of your products, but also exercising judgment about whether that value holds true for specific customers.

After all, you offer lower-tier products and services for a reason. They’re designed to meet the needs of a specific segment of your audience — and that segment may have no real need for your more expensive options.

Be mindful of this, and only make upsell and cross-sell pitches when your offers provide value to the customer.

For example, if you’re a software provider with plans for companies of all sizes, your small business customers likely use the least expensive version. Attempting to upsell them on a higher tier designed for enterprise-level users would be unhelpful, and likely annoying.

Blatant sales pitches that don’t consider the customer’s needs are not only unhelpful but can also damage their trust in your brand. As a result, it’s important to be mindful of whether you’re really providing value with each one.

#3 Use Insight from Previous Interactions to Drive Suggestions

If your business is like most, your audience is made up of a few key segments of users. Each of these segments has slightly different needs and goals, and different purchasing habits to match. And as you look for ways to upsell and cross-sell, identifying patterns in buying behavior within these segments can help you provide relevant offers.

For example, let’s say you’re a software provider that offers solutions for individual users, small business owners, and enterprise-level companies. You also provide both basic and premium plans.

You notice that of the users that upgrade to the premium tier of your product, enterprise-level users tend to be the most satisfied, while individual users and small business owners tend to revert to lower tiers after a few months.

Using this insight, you could opt to focus your upsell efforts on enterprise-level users only. This way, you avoid making recommendations that are unlikely to work out and can be confident that the suggestions you do make will satisfy those customers.

#4 Engage with Satisfied Customers

Timing is essential for generating upsells and cross-sells. Pay attention to the context of each customer interaction, and only attempt to make pitches when the customer is already satisfied with your brand.

For example, if a customer contacts you because they’re dissatisfied with your service, this clearly isn’t an appropriate time to attempt an upsell.

But if a customer reaches out with a simple question, this is an excellent opportunity to gauge their overall satisfaction with your brand. Provide the information they’re looking for, then ask how happy they are with your product or service. If the answer is negative, look for ways to remedy any issues.

And if it’s positive, learn more about their goals and needs so that you can provide recommendations accordingly. Although some support agents make the mistake of rushing through inquiries from satisfied customers because they don’t feel as urgent as those from unsatisfied ones, this is a mistake.

Satisfied customers are typically the most open to upsells and cross-sells — so spending a few extra minutes to engage can be all it takes to drive additional revenue for your company.

#5 Be Transparent

As you make upsell and cross-sell pitches, it’s essential to be clear about the fact that they’re ultimately sales pitches. Don’t tell a customer all about the benefits of a specific feature and encourage them to use it, then tell them it’s only available if they upgrade to a plan that costs $100 extra per month.

Instead, let them know that there’s a feature in an upgraded plan you think they could benefit from, and ask if they’re interested in learning more about it. This way, you avoid making customers feel like you’ve misled or tricked them into spending more money and can be sure that each pitch you make will improve their relationships with your brand.


Upselling and cross-selling are two strategies that both have the potential to drastically increase revenue for any company. But they shouldn’t be limited to your sales team. With the right approach, your support team can also use these tactics to not only generate sales but to help your customers get more value from your brand and products.

And throughout the process, it’s absolutely essential to keep the focus on providing value — and not simply on driving sales. This way, you can offer upsells and cross-sells that benefit your audience, and improve the chances that they’ll become loyal, long-term customers for your brand.

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