Cross-Selling and Upselling in SaaS: 8 Powerful Strategies to Improve Your Revenue

When you build a SaaS product and see customers using it every day and trusting your brand, it feels like a blessing, right?

But here's the thing: The digital world moves fast. Today people might love your product, tomorrow there could be a competitor offering what you do for half the price, maybe even better. So how do you keep growing and ensure your long-term success?

The answer lies in two powerful strategies: Upselling and cross-selling. Now, these terms might sound fancy, but they're straight-forward. It’s about maximizing the value you deliver to your existing customers and at the same time, maximizing your revenue. If you want to grow consistently, a strategic focus on existing customers is a powerful and cost-effective solution.

Let me show what upselling and cross-selling are, why these concepts are so important, and 8 upselling and cross-selling strategies you can use to increase your revenue.

Let's dive in!
What is upselling and cross-selling?
Upselling meaning
Cross-selling meaning
The goal is the same...
... providing more value to customers and increasing revenue

What is upselling and cross-selling and what does it mean?

Upselling is a strategic approach that encourages existing customers to upgrade their subscription plans, for example by offering them additional features, advanced functionality or higher level plans that meet their evolving needs.

For a simple example, let's say Netflix offers you a plan that allows you to watch 10 movies a month for $1 and another plan that allows you to watch 50 movies a month for $3. Encouraging you to upgrade to the higher plan would be upselling.

The main objective is not only to increase revenue, but also to maximize customer satisfaction by providing tailored solutions that meet their growing needs. In the long term, this will help you build stronger customer relationships and improve the user experience, which will help you keep those customers.

The terms upselling and cross-selling are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct concepts. Cross-selling means recommending additional products or services to existing customers, while upselling encourages customers to upgrade their current subscription. Cross-selling broadens the horizon by showing complementary solutions that should improve the overall user experience.

An example of cross-selling is Amazon's 'people also buy' box. So, to increase revenue, you should always - I repeat, you should always - show customers additional relevant offers.

Successful cross-selling not only increases revenue, but also strengthens customer loyalty by positioning you as a total partner. However, it is important to keep this in mind: Never sell something that has no value to the customer just to increase revenue. If you do, you will damage your customer relationship. So, always make sure that what you offer is valuable.
The differences between cross-selling and upselling
What product is offered?
Upselling value proposition
Cross-selling meaning
What is the value proposition?
Upselling meaning
Cross-selling value proposition

What are the differences between cross-selling & upselling?

Upselling and cross-selling are two powerful tactics for increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV) and revenue. The basic idea is the same for both strategies - growing customer relationships and generating additional revenue - but they target customers in different ways and offer different product or service options.

Here are the key differences:


Upsells encourage customers to upgrade to a more feature-rich and expensive version of the product they already use.
Value proposition
Show users the additional benefits of using the upgraded plan. Address customer needs that may not be fully met by the current plan.
Example (made up)
Your basic Netflix subscription allows you to watch 10 movies per month. An upgraded version allows you to watch 50 movies, for €2 more.


Showing customers additional products or services that enhance the overall experience of their existing purchase. These additional services work hand in hand with the current product.
Value proposition
Expand the customer's solution ecosystem by offering additional tools and functionality that work seamlessly with their existing product to address a wider range of their needs. Positioning yourself as a complete partner.
You offer a service and within the checkout page you show people what "other customers have bought", like the Amazon "people are also buying" section.
Resources to build a successful business
Why is upselling and cross-selling important?
Increased revenue and increased CLV
Reduced churn and improved customer retention
Improved user experience

Why is upselling and cross-selling important in SaaS?

Upselling and cross-selling are two extremely important concepts that you should always be using. Not only do they maximize revenue and increase customer satisfaction from your existing user base, but they also bring many other benefits. Here are 3 key benefits of upselling and cross-selling in SaaS.

Increased revenue & increased customer lifetime value

The main benefit of upselling and cross-selling is that you can increase your revenue, without getting more customers. Sounds good, right? Customer acquisition is usually expensive, so focusing on your existing customers makes sense, even if it is not immediately obvious, because people often think that to get more revenue, you need more customers. But that's not true.

I mean, think about it: Your current customers are already committed to your service, they have already bought something from you. So, if you add value with an additional service, it only makes sense for them to buy it too.  

Both upselling and cross-selling contribute significantly to increasing the customer lifetime value (CLV), a critical metric for long-term profitability. CLV is the total revenue generated by a customer over their lifetime. This is particularly important for SaaS companies because they rely on customers paying a monthly or annual fee to use the service.

One of the problems with SaaS is that, because customers pay on a monthly basis, there is a significant upfront investment to acquire customers. If they take too long to recoup their customer acquisition costs, they risk going out of business.

Upselling and cross-selling can help them break even faster and grow their business. So, these strategies are essential to building a robust revenue stream.

Reduced customer churn & improved customer retention rates

Upselling & cross-selling can be a powerful tool against customer churn. One of the reasons for churn is that customers run into limitations with their current plan. They would like to have a certain feature and if you don't offer it (in one of your plans or in additional services), they will simply leave.

So, with upselling & cross-selling, you proactively show customers what features you offer and give them the chance to choose a different - or additional - package if their needs aren't being fully met at the moment.

In addition, upselling addresses your customers' evolving needs with advanced features, and cross-selling offers a more complete solution by introducing complementary products that work seamlessly with your core offering. This incentivizes your customers to stay on the platform and reduces the risk of churn.

Improved user experience

When done right, upselling and cross-selling can significantly improve the user experience by helping customers do more with your platform. This creates a sense of satisfaction and encourages continued engagement.

When you constantly provide new services or services that add up to your customers existing plans, it shows your customers that you care about their success. It shows that you want them to be successful. This is how you build stronger relationships and customer loyalty. And that is something you should always strive for.

Loyal customers stay with you longer and also become brand advocates, attracting new customers through positive word-of-mouth.
Here's a key point to remember
Upselling and cross-selling are not just about pushing additional products or services at your customers face. Implement these strategies with a customer-centric approach. Always make sure that these additional products are valuable. This is the only way to create a win-win scenario - where you get more revenue, while customers benefit from added value.

Let me stress this again - avoid at all costs creating (and selling) products or things that have no real value to your customers. This will damage your relationship with your customers.
4 strategies to increase upselling in SaaS
Seamless self-service upgrades
Strategic use of scarcity marketing
Focus on value not just sales
Show paid features within your free plan

4 Strategies to increase upselling in SaaS

Upselling existing customers to higher tiers within your SaaS product is a fantastic way to increase revenue and build stronger relationships. These 4 strategies will help you implement a successful upsell strategy:

1. Seamless self-service upgrades

Automated prompts at key moments
Identify situations where customers are approaching plan limits or are missing features in their current tier. You can then use timely, relevant upgrade prompts within your platform to nudge them towards a more suitable plan.
Smooth upgrade path
This is probably the most important takeaway for both upselling and cross-selling: Make the process effortless. Implement an easy-to-use self-service portal where customers can easily compare plans, understand upgrade benefits, and seamlessly move to a higher tier with a few clicks.

For example, if you already have their credit card details, ask them if they would like to re-use them. Don't make them re-enter the entire card number. The more steps you can reduce in the upgrade process, the more people will upgrade.

2. Strategic use of scarcity marketing

Scarcity marketing can be a powerful tool to create a sense of urgency and encourage upgrades. However, it's important to use this tactic ethically and avoid creating a false sense of limited availability. Here's how to get it right:
Limited-time discounts
Offer attractive discounts on higher tier plans for a limited time (e.g. 30% off for the first 100 upgraders within a week). This incentivizes immediate action and capitalizes on the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Tiered discount structures
Present a tiered discount structure for upgrades. For example, a 10% discount for upgrading within a month, increasing to 15% if they upgrade within a week. This creates a sense of urgency and motivates quicker decisions.

Again, it is important for me to say this: Don't fake these elements of scarcity. Do it ethically to avoid damaging your customer relationship.

3. Focus on value, not just sales

Upselling shouldn't feel like a sales pitch. Instead, emphasize the value proposition for the customer. Clearly communicate how upgrading will empower them to achieve their goals more effectively.
Highlight feature benefits
Clearly explain the additional benefits and features they will gain by upgrading. Show how these features directly address their specific needs and pain points. Getting this right requires a deep understanding of your Personas.
Quantify the value
If possible, quantify the value you add. For example, show how enhanced features can save them time (with automated tasks), increase revenue (with advanced marketing tools), or improve efficiency (with streamlined workflows).

4. Showcase paid features within your free plan

Strategic feature locking
Offer a free plan with core functionalities. However, strategically lock certain valuable features within the app itself. This allows users to experience the basic functionalities and understand the product's potential. When they encounter limitations, the urge to unlock the full power of the product through an upgrade becomes more compelling.

This can be a particularly powerful strategy because you can build a community right from the start - people love to try your free product before they buy. However, make sure your free version still provides value. There is probably nothing more annoying than downloading a "free" app and having every feature locked behind a paywall.
Resources to build a successful business
4 strategies to increase cross-selling in SaaS
Data driven targeting
Contextual in-app messages
Engage customers with strategic CTAs
Bundle offers during signup

4 Strategies to increase cross-selling in SaaS

Cross-selling additional products or services to existing customers is a powerful way to extend your value proposition and increase your revenue. Here are 4 key strategies for successful cross-selling:

1. Data-driven targeting with customer segmentation

Segment your customer base
Start by segmenting your customers into distinct groups based on common characteristics such as industry, company size, or usage patterns. This segmentation will help you better identify customer needs and preferences.
Identify cross-sell opportunities
Analyze usage data within each segment. See which features users are actively using and identify gaps or limitations in their current plan. This will help you identify complementary products or services that would add significant value to specific user segments.
Targeted cross-sell prompts
Use your customer insights to trigger targeted cross-sell prompts within your platform. These prompts should be contextual and relevant to the user's segment and current activity within the app. Again, it's all about value. Offer something that has no value and your users will be annoyed rather than delighted by your message.

2. Contextual in-app messaging for higher engagement

Go beyond traditional sales outreach
While sales reps and customer support teams can play a role, contextual in-app messages deliver a more immediate and relevant impact. These messages appear directly within the user interface, at the precise moment a user needs them most. And because users are not interrupted in their journey by an external sales representative, these strategies can be extremely powerful.
Relevance is key
Ensure that your in-app cross-sell messages are directly related to the user's current task or activity. For example, a user writing an email might be receptive to a suggestion for email marketing integration. This contextual approach increases the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

3. Engage power customers with strategic CTAs

Identify high value customers
Identify your "power customers" - those long-term users with significant budgets and evolving needs. These customers are prime candidates for cross-buying additional products or services that complement their core subscription.
Create a sense of urgency
Develop compelling call to action (CTA) systems that generate interest and a sense of urgency around new products or features. This could include limited-time promotions, early access opportunities or exclusive content for power customers. By creating a sense of urgency, you can encourage them to explore cross-selling opportunities.

4. Bundle offers during signup

Capitalize on new user enthusiasm
New customers who sign up for your platform are initially excited and eager to explore its potential. You can use this excitement to introduce them to relevant cross-selling opportunities during the sign-up process.
Smooth bundled offers
Design a sign-up flow that seamlessly presents bundled offers alongside the core product. Highlight any discounts or added value associated with these bundles. This allows new users to discover the benefits of cross-selling without disrupting their signup experience.
Resources for your business success

3 FAQs about SaaS upselling and cross-selling

1. How can I determine the right time to upsell and cross-sell to my SaaS customers?

Identifying the optimal time to upsell and cross-sell requires a deep understanding of your customers' behaviours and preferences. Consider factors such as usage patterns, milestones in their journey with your product, and specific triggers that indicate evolving needs.

By analyzing this type of data, you can determine the best time to present your upsell or cross-sell offers without being intrusive.

2. Are there any potential risks associated with upselling and cross-selling in a SaaS business?

One risk is the possibility of alienating customers if the upsell or cross-sell offers are perceived as overly aggressive or irrelevant. There's also the risk of overwhelming customers with too many offers, leading to decision fatigue or dissatisfaction.

So, it's important to strike a balance and ensure that upselling and cross-selling efforts are aligned with customers' needs and preferences. Before showing your customers 5 additional services they could benefit from, think about what is really valuable to them and start with that as a test. You can always iterate later and see what works.

3. How can I measure the success of my upselling and cross-selling efforts in a SaaS business?

Measuring the effectiveness of upsell and cross-sell initiatives involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) related to revenue growth, customer retention and user engagement.

Look at metrics such as upsell/cross-sell conversion rates, average revenue per user (ARPU), customer lifetime value (CLV), and churn rates. Analyzing these metrics will give you insight into the impact of your upsell and cross-sell strategies.

Final thoughts on upselling and cross-sellilng in SaaS

In conclusion, upselling and cross-selling are not just sales techniques, they are the cornerstones of sustainable growth. And the best part is: You can create a win-win situation. You get more revenue, and your customers are happier because they get more value.

Upselling and cross-selling are two powerful strategies in your growth funnel. But you should not stop there. If you really want to grow your business, check out the AARRR Bundle where you will learn how to create an effective growth funnel that attracts, converts and retains customers with one of the most powerful 5-step SaaS frameworks: