4 Powerful Strategies to Increase Sales for Your Small Business – Victor Antonio | Sellinger Group

Despite the rising cost of goods and services, consumer demand is strong and sales are still happening for small business owners, but how long will it last? Today on the Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re pleased to welcome back Victor Antonio, sales trainer, author, and motivational speaker at Sellinger Group, who shares a few strategies you can use to win more sales today.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So Victor, thank you so much for joining us on the show. Once again.

Victor Antonio:
Thank you for having me back. Super excited about this segment.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Good. So am I, so am I, so there’s a lot of businesses out there that are trying to shake off COVID the cloud of COVID so to speak and it seems like it might be in our rear view mirror, but so from your perspective, what should business owners be focused on today in order to grow their sales? Because it’s a question that keeps coming up. Can we grow our business in light of all that we see our there?

Victor Antonio:
Well, it’s funny. I mean, it’s like, a tale of two stories, but a tale, two sales stories, and that is, there are companies that are just right now, as you say, ramping back up, hopefully the supply chain will kick in economy, starts to move consumer confidence will rise even given the headwinds we’re heading into. And then there’s these, this other group of businesses that have just been killing it during the pandemic. Right? Sure. And so when you look at those two on the folks who are struggling with their business, how do we grow that business? I recently released a book in January called mastering the upsell. And if they take away one tip from this conversation, is this, the book in the book. I talk about that by simply focusing on selling more to your existing customer base, you can increase your sales by up to 30%.

Victor Antonio:
So let me repeat that, you don’t have to go out and get new clients, right? You can just sell to your existing customer base and increase your revenue by 30%. But my biggest concern, and I’d love to get your take on it is that on the other side, the people who have been killing it, doing well, I’m afraid they’re falling into this lull of complacency, and one could argue sales atrophy. In other words, the business has been coming so easy, so good. That they forgot how to hunt and maybe even forgot how to sell. And I don’t know if you see that from your perspective.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No, I definitely see it from my perspective. It]s something we talk a lot about on this show because it is… You’re exactly right. There are salespeople out there that are selling everything that they can get their hands on because the traffic keeps coming in. Whether they call, click or walk in the front door of these businesses, they need the products they’re in short supply, they’re willing to pay top dollar for them, whether it be asking price or sticker price or whatever the case might be.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So it looks right now, like sales is a really easy game. So down goes, the training for sales down goes the homework that you’ve got to do and put in to become a really good salesperson right now in some of those businesses you’re talking about they could bring a monkey in and a monkey could sell just because you’ve got the product. Right. And people are willing. Yeah, no problem. I didn’t even want to discount. I just want to, I just know that if you’ve got it, I’ll take it off your hands and pay whatever you need for it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So, and you’re right. A lot of companies have said, oh “We’re, we’re good. We, we don’t need that sales training,” but we all know that in business, this is going to change. It’s a temporary situation at best products will come flowing back again. Businesses will start opening up again. You’re going to have competition. And guess what? Now, all of a sudden, you’re going to find yourself reaching out to Victor Antonio saying, “Hey, get my team up to speed here because we’ve become rusty in our sales techniques.” Right.

Victor Antonio:
Oh, absolutely. And I think and again, I don’t know where you fall on the believability spectrum on a recession coming our way, but there’s some belt tightening going to go on. And I think it’s going to be interesting because I think companies are going to be tested. Salesforce will be tested on how to sell more in I’ll say a recession that’s coming. And I have no doubt given the inflation, the numbers that are there, consumers going to start pulling back on the money a little bit. And here’s the other thing we talked about atrophy or complacency on those who are doing exceptionally well.

Victor Antonio:
And on the other hand, what we’re starting to see is you’re starting to see companies who are struggling to get business in. And if they’re struggling, if they’re getting the businesses, now they have to increase the prices on some of these products. And so a lot of the training I’m doing now is a around the price increase conversation, how do you get them to increase the price without losing the client? And I think that’s going to be a new skill that a lot of folks are, have, have to basically I guess develop all over again.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. You brought up something in the opener there where you said that 30% of these people are not getting reached out to the clients. I mean, that’s really what it’s so important because that can mean so much a part of your growth is taking good care of your clients that you already have. Right.

Victor Antonio:
Well, I think that in the book I talk about, and again, it’s called Mastering the Upsell, I call upselling the third option. There’s inbound trying to get people to come in, as you say, click, right.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yep.

Victor Antonio:
Outbound is reaching out. But the third option is really again, how do you sell more to your existing clients? And what I think is interesting about that, if you really analyze upselling, and I’ve talked to like, literally in the last year and a half, I’ve talked about good 50 to 60 companies conservatively. And I asked them, what’s your upselling strategy? Do you have one? And the answer comes back. No. Yeah. 100% of the time. And I find that amazing. Because if you think about it, client acquisition costs is none. Right? Because we don’t have to go out and acquire new clients, friction and accessibility. Very easy. That’s right. And so this is a strategy.

Victor Antonio:
I think that a lot of companies going to start employing wait, let me back up, Jim, there’s four ways to grow your business. That’s it? Everybody wants to complicate it. I like to simplify things four ways. One is you gain new clients again, client acquisition costs are going up more competition. That’s a tough nut to crack. That’s right. Number two is retention holding onto your existing customer base, just simply holding on. And one study showed that if you can increase retention by 5%, you can probably hit your bottom line by 80 to 90% that high. Because again, you’re not spending a lot of money.

Victor Antonio:
The third option I talked about is upselling the growth piece. The fourth one I think is interesting is to re-activate go back and maybe follow up on people who didn’t buy or started ghosting you and never got back to you or made no decision. So if you think about it, gain new clients, retain them, grow them upselling or re-activate old existing clients. And I think if you’re a company listening to this, I would say, where do I want to put my money as far as strategy or strategy, maybe pick one or two, but that’s how I would begin to orient myself as we move forward in the second half of the year.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And it’s great advice. There’s no question about it for sure there. And how about the companies or the business people that you’ll talk to that will say, “Well, I lost a client and well why’d you lose the client?” Well, because they went with a competitor that kept calling on them and offered them other services and low and behold, you find out that first company offers the same services, but nobody reached out to that customer of theirs to say, “by the way, you’re a great customer of ours. We notice that you need X, Y, and Z for these other areas of your business or your home or whatever the case might be. We can help you with that.” Low and behold, they left that door wide open for a competitor to come in and go, “Hey, by the way, we can offer you these services.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
When, when company A could have provided those same things, but they thought, well, if that customer needs it, then they know that already. And they’ll come to us. Customers don’t necessarily know everything that you offer. Hence the reason you need to stay in touch with them constantly. Right. And I agree with you. It’s so expensive for businesses to try to get that conquest customer. You got to spend a whole heck of a lot of money. It always comes down to price because you’ve not got the relationship with them like you do with your existing customer base. So it’s a great point.

Victor Antonio:
Yeah. So that falls under the second strategy of retention, right? To your point, which is an exceptional point is if you’re not reaching out, there’s no cadence in reaching out, following up just to make sure that customers know you appreciate them. I think that’s where you leave the door open, as you said, but you also hint that another problem out there, or another opportunity, depending on how you want to look at it, half glass half full or half empty.

Victor Antonio:
And that is a lot of companies are now starting to deploy like real loyalty programs, whether it’s reward programs or something just to hold them in, as you pointed out, Just to touch them, everybody’s offering almost the same thing. I mean, let’s be real about this for a second. Rare is the company that has something so different. Everybody has said, okay, let’s just go get it. That’s right. So we’ve re so we’ve reached a point of product and service parody that I believe. And I would love to get your take out. I believe for the first time in a very long time, the salesperson is the ultimate differentiator. All products, services been alike. The salesperson is the one that makes the difference.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I totally agree with you. There’s there’s no question about it. And on the other side of that, the salesperson can also screw up a deal and you lose it. When everything else is equal or even if you’re offering a lower price or a better service, sometimes the salesperson can get in the way of that customer signing on the bottom line. But I agree with you more times than not, that is the differentiator and what are we doing to train and motivate and inspire those sales people to win more of those customers. But then at the same time, take good care of the customers you’ve got. Right.

Victor Antonio:
I agree. There was a study done by Gartner. I thought was really interesting when they looked at, what are they looking for today? What are customers looking for today in today’s market? When it comes to a salesperson and they looked at three types, three types of salespeople, and the first one is where you, the customer wants more information and you give them more information. Well, the reality is customers have so much information that the paralysis by analysis factor kicks in. So they really don’t want more information. But that’s one group of sales, people who think they should respond with more information. When the customer says, send me more information, we do that without questioning, the second type of sales person is the more the authoritative, let me tell you what you need to do. right. From an authority standpoint, let me tell you what you need to do.

Victor Antonio:
What they found is that more effective than giving information, but not quite as effective as the third category, the third category they call it sense, making salesperson the sense making salesperson, it’s almost intuitively obvious. There is so much information out there. There is glut of information that people are having a hard time making a buying decision. Because they can’t understand how to filter the information. So think about today’s salesperson has to have the ability to sift through the information with the client and help them make sense of it. And when I read that study and they showed the difference in performance, it was again intuitively obvious, but that’s actually what’s happening in the market today.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. Yeah. There’s no question about it. And these businesses they need, especially through these times, because you used the R word just a little while ago and and I agree with you. I think it’s like, I think something’s coming to correct all of this right now, but as much as we don’t want to talk about it and we want to sweep it under the carpet, it could very well be that a recession’s about to hit. And then what are, what are those small businesses going to do? And,or what is any business going to do for that matter? And they’re going to revert.

Victor Antonio:
I may go ahead. I want to add so before I forget, because I think this is important. So the same company did CEB. Now Gartner did an interesting study where they looked at during a recession, what profiles types of sales people are the most successful. So the CEB did this study and the study was based on, I think like a hundred thousand salespeople and they realized they fall into five categories. I don’t know if I get them all five, I’ll do my best.

Victor Antonio:
One is the problem solver. Number two is the hard worker. I think third one is the lone Wolf. Four is the challenger. And number five is the relationship salesperson, right? Those five. Right? And what they found that in a low economy or high economy, active economy, one profile did the best one profile did the worst. The one that did the best was the challenger that would provoke actually customers.

Victor Antonio:
In other words, question, customers really pushed them to really think about why they were making certain decisions. The ones that did the worst in a down economy or an up economy were relationship sales people. Now, before every you start getting calls and your phone starts to light up, like “Who’s this nut that you have on the show.” Why’d you put them on, it’s all about relationships, brother. Don’t you. I get that. I get that. But here’s what they found is that we all have each of those five personalities, but we’re dominant with one.

Victor Antonio:
And the challenger profile basically is one who can teach for differentiation, right? Tailored for resident. In other words, to make sure the customer understands, but also be able to take control of the conversation. Now you still have to be good at relationships. Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Victor Antonio:
And you got to be a hard worker. You got to be a problem solver. And, but I found that fascinating, but it makes sense if you think about it, Jim, because people aren’t looking for a relationship, they want a relationship as a byproduct of the fact that you can help me. If you can help me make decisions, that’s right. You can help me make the right decisions, navigate all these alternatives. Even when I’m trying to choose a car, help me navigate that. If I make a right decision, then I want a relationship with you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. That’s so true. And we’ve all had those salespeople in our life that is you feel like you’ve known the person a million years, but as you continue to shop, you go with that person that says, “Look, this is luck to your point. This is what you need to do in this next purchase. And here’s why” and they take the bull by the horns. Right. And say-

Victor Antonio:
But I love what you’re saying. See that you added the qualify. Here’s why.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Victor Antonio:
And that’s what people listen to. I love That.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. No question about it. But it’s interesting during, during times like these, there can be, even through recessions, there can be highly successful companies and sales people out there. Even through times like this, because you’ve you find sometimes other companies throw their hands up during recess. Say, “Well, let’s just cut staff. Let’s lay everybody off. Let’s Batten down the hatches. Let’s get all the cash we can get. And just wait, wait this thing out” while other companies say, “No, let’s sell our way out. Let’s while those other competitors are asleep, let’s do what we got to do to build our business.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Because look, commerce doesn’t stop entirely. It just gets cut back a little bit. Right. Which means that people are still out, buying companies are still out buying. They’re moving, they’re doing. It Doesn’t stop all together. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest lessons learned through times like this. When you hear the recession word is that you’ve got some people that just get in defensive mode while others go. I see it as an opportunity. Let’s go, right.

Victor Antonio:
Well, I love what you said, sell your way out. Yeah. What I mean? Just sell your way out. Just figure it out. Because again, the economic engine does not stop. And you’re right. My boss told me many years ago. He’s always saying “Somebody’s mine, Victor, Victor somebody’s mine right now. Somebody’s buying.” That was his attitude. Exactly. We just have to find those. And the second part and you alluded to is that when other companies start pulling back, that’s when you go in there and grab more market share. Yeah. That’s when you go in there. So I’m with you on the opportunities right there.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. So many companies and I don’t have the complete list, but so many companies started during a recession. I think Walmart was one of them and Starbucks was another one of them. But you know, if you go to Google and you say comp successful companies started during a recession, you’ll be amazed as to how many companies you see that started during a recession in this country. And have I got to be honest.

Victor Antonio:
I never really thought about that, Jim. Yeah. Thought about that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Actually gone on to greatness. Because they saw an opportunity and obviously with a company like Walmart they open up and what do they offer? They offer absolute lowest prices on all these products. Where are people going to go during a recession to a company like that. Right. So,

Victor Antonio:
Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. It’s interesting as to all the reasons why, but nevertheless, to your point, there are there’s a sale being made every second specifically in this market because Atlanta is on fire right now, whether it be housing or banking or really whatever it might be. It’s here in Atlanta and it’s on fire. So many small business owners will do well recession or no recession. Right. If they have the right mindset.

Victor Antonio:
Mindset, let’s do the double M here, mindset and marketing because oftentimes people pull back on their marketing. I’m like, now’s when you got to go full throat on that thing. And so I think if you have the right mindset, you have good marketing, be more frugal or more intentional about your marketing. I think those two things right there will power you through, as you say, will sell your way out of this recession.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. Should companies look to add to their sales, to their sales team during times like this in terms of head, it’s

Victor Antonio:
It’s a tough it’s a tough question to answer because it depends on what segments you’re in. For example, one of my customers is a big power company by power. I mean batteries for telecom companies and so forth. And they’re about three billion company and they’re not adding sales people. What they’re doing is they’re, they’re focusing more on trying to figure out what customer, what their existing customer base wants. Because they realize that the customers, they have pure retention strategy, by the way. Yeah. They’re saying “These folks right here will actually buy from us.” What are their biggest customers is Comcast. And so they’re trying to figure out it’s not so much about scaling up your sales people, but how do we scale up and expand our product management side so we can develop products that we know that need during this time.

Victor Antonio:
So that’s why I said, it’s a hard question to answer because depends on what you want to focus right now. If you want to scale your business like anything else you do it carefully scale small and effectively I think one of the biggest challenges though, Jim, is that the onboarding of people that’s kind been my thing lately is I’ve been talking to companies about how do you onboard faster? How do you train people faster? And I’ve been using the phrase speed to value. How do you get them in and get them to start contributing right away.And I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge going forward.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. I would agree. I would agree. Hey, every time I talk to you, I walk away completely motivated and inspired and enthused. That’s just the guy that you are. I mean, you bring that to the table every time I know you do it with your clients as well. So much of it is skill. And then so much of it with sales salespeople today is them being just pumped and motivated and ready to go to work during times like this. And we just came off of C and now you know, we’re talking possibly about a recession. How do you keep people motivated?

Victor Antonio:
You would I’ve learned? Because you said half of it, you just finished, didn’t finish the other half it’s skill and will, right. Yeah. You said it indirectly. Right? You got to have the skill, but you also have to have the will. Right? What I’ve been discovering maybe as I’m getting older, you know my old age. Right? What I, what I’m starting to discover is you can’t motivate people. Bear with me here. You can’t motivate people. What you can try to do is release the mental breaks that are holding them back. Because I think everybody wants to move forward, be successful.

Victor Antonio:
But there’s something holding them back. And I think if you’re a manager right now, I would look at my training and says, what’s holding my people back from me successful. If they’re afraid of prospecting, what can I do? To release that break. If they’re afraid of doing demos or presentations, how do I do that? If they’re afraid of taking control of the conversation with the client, how do we release that mental break? If they’re afraid of upselling, because oh, I don’t know if I want to charge them too much or ask for too much. Then how do we release that? I think once you get there, as rolling guys are gals rolling, then I think success commission checks always motivate people. So I think let’s figure out how to release the mental breaks and that will motivate them.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I agree. I agree. There’s no question about it, Victor, Antonio, it is always great. Catching up with you. As you all know, he is a sales trainer, motivational keynote speaker, the Sellinger group podcast. I see it right there on the behind you there sales influence podcast, check it out people. This is the kind of content and information that we want to be bringing you here at ESPN. Victor Antonio is one of the top leading speakers out there and sales trainers. If you’re a company that wants to take your sales to the next level, this is the guy that can help you get there. So Victor, thank you so much for joining us. We really Appreciate all the time you have give us.

Victor Antonio:
Thank you for Having the time.


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