NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Business owners are changing the way they sell to recover and grow during the coronavirus pandemic.
All three entrepreneurs on the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast panel with Joe Connolly have adjusted their sales operations and strategies, increasing revenue as a result; they share advice to other owners on how to boost sales even in this tough economic climate.
1. Reduce Overhead
Satisfi Labs Co-Founder and CEO Don White says vendors are currently offering incentives for suppliers. You may be in a good position to negotiate.
"Now is a great time to shop for a better rate or a better priced option," White said. "We were able to reduce our health costs by 40 percent going into 2021 just because of how we worked with our partner who wanted to retain us, and even though it's 25 employees, they were very interested in offering us the ability to do that."
The savvy tech entrepreneur says now is a great time to reduce your overhead going into next year.
2. Pivot to Boost Revenue
NTWRK president Moksha Fitzgibbons says small retailers should pivot online and attempt to move their current customer base to their e-commerce platform.
"I would say do as much as you can to build that online revenue and try to grow that as efficiently, as effectively as you can, and then, reopen that store in a safe way to bring back your customer base, as best you can, and introduce them to your online piece," Fitzgibbons said in response to an audience question from Anita Manfredonia who owns a boutique in Flushing, Queens named Pippy & Lily.
NTWRK is a livestreaming e-commerce application that has helped retailers pivot from brick and mortar to grow digital sales.
One example Fitzgibbons shares on the Virtual Business Breakfast is Chelsea-based artist Mr. Flower Fantastic who designs elaborate floral pieces for live events and showcases, including making a floral masterpiece of Serena Williams' Nike Air Max 97 sneaker for the 2018 U.S. Open. NTWRK has a creative content deal with MFF that will rake in "seven figures plus" in revenue this year after event cancellations temporarily set the floral artist’s business back.
3. Know Who Your Customers Are
A key to changing your sales is understanding who your customers are by digging into your transaction data and social media analytics.
"When we saw that it was a reorder, we put a handwritten note in there with an extra two-ounce bottle thanking them for ordering from us," Jennifer Decker of Long Island-based 3 Moms Organics said of her personal touch.
Her customers became the company's most influential spokespeople during the pandemic as they made their own posts and videos explaining and showing how their DEET-free product TickWise works to repel ticks and insects.
A combination of genuine influencer marketing and targeted Facebook advertisements accelerated 3 Moms Organics' sales over 1,000 percent this year.
4. Help Others Who Are Struggling
White shared his conviction that the business community should help others who have been laid-off due to this crisis. One way to do that is through virtual networking made easier on LinkedIn.
"Some of those relationships have really benefited our company," White said, noting that was not his objective. "I was able to provide them some benefits of either talking through what opportunities they were looking for, ways they can potentially help us, and then they would in turn say, ‘well, how can I help you?’ There was a reciprocal opportunity."
His startup's revenue doubled after shifting his sales operations from a regionally focused sales team to a vertical sales team whereby staffers focused on areas of expertise rather than geographic location since business travel was halted.
5. Be a Business for the Future
Fitzgibbons believes consumer behavior has changed permanently and entrepreneurs should look to fulfill needs in the marketplace.
"I used to go to Whole Foods all the time and now I order it through Amazon Prime.
I don't think I'll ever go back to a Whole Foods or certainly not with the frequency that I once did," he shared, adding, "You need to think through that need case and make sure that you are well-positioned to be a business for the future and not one of the past."
Watch the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast with Joe Connolly here.