“Demonstrate empathy.” With Mitch Russo & Breanna Gunn

I would want to inspire people to cultivate more connections, both on and offline. I would want people to put real effort and time into their relationships with no expectation other than just expanding their circle of genuine people, fostering a community of support and lifting each other up. As a part of my series […]

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I would want to inspire people to cultivate more connections, both on and offline. I would want people to put real effort and time into their relationships with no expectation other than just expanding their circle of genuine people, fostering a community of support and lifting each other up.

As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Breanna Gunn. Breanna Gunn is an online business strategist who teaches overwhelmed solopreneurs how to scale to six and seven figures without stress. By simplifying offerings and implementing systems and strategies, Breanna shows her clients the power of setting boundaries in their businesses. Through a decade of designing and building effective sales funnels, Breanna has consistently created sustainable funnels that generate 5-figure months.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

Idefinitely took the long road to get here, but my background has always been in sales. In college, I sold cell phones, back when they were still in those ugly black bags. And while I didn’t know a thing about cell phones or sales, I knew people. So I was able to excel at my job, and when we had to make a move, I took a job at a used car lot. Yup, I totally sold cars.

I worked at the car lot for exactly two months, and made $30,000. The money was good, but I quit because selling started to feel sleazy and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

A few years later I found myself working at a law firm while I finished up my bachelors degree. I ended up being the rock for people whose lives had not turned out as they’d planned, and I enjoyed making them feel valued and heard.

Soon I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer, and when my son was born, I wanted my kids to see that my work made a difference and didn’t drain me. So I jumped headfirst into entrepreneurship and I’ve been working for myself ever since.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Working at the law firm was a major eye-opener. While the money that comes with being a lawyer sounded great, I knew I would miss out on the connections. Through that realization, I learned that no matter what kind of work I got into, I wanted to be in it to make a difference in the lives of the people that I connected with.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’ve got a couple specific target marketing courses in the works that will help people navigate how to land clients on platforms such as LinkedIn.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to pick just one person? Honestly, it was a combination of amazing clients who were willing to take a chance on someone who didn’t have a lot of online work experience when I was first starting out, and then beginning to watch and absorb some content from amazing marketers and sales people as my skill set grew and changed.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

My entire career has been in sales, and it’s made me learn a valuable lesson that often goes unspoken: sales is all about understanding people. What makes them happy, what they’re struggling with, what they desire. That’s why I’m so passionate about teaching solopreneurs target market research because it demonstrates the value of knowing your audience.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

This year has really shaken up nearly every comfort in modern society — and that can feel really scary. The fear of the unknown causes so many of us to remain stagnant and unmoving, because we just don’t know what to do.

If you want to effectively offer support to people you care about, offer them service. Do something that helps. Dive deep into your zone of genius and brainstorm ways you can give back.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?

Our education system is outdated and doesn’t reflect the needs of the current marketplace. Exactly why that is, I’m not sure, but it’s up to both parents of the next generation and those who want to step into sales now to seek out sales education post-graduation. Thankfully, there are hundreds of thousands of resources online that people can find today.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesey”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

I absolutely agree. Pushy and aggressive sales tactics are no longer relevant. Today’s consumers are educated, thoughtful people who want to know who it is exactly they’re buying from. The want to support people who share their same values and they want to feel like they’re contributing to the greater good. So when you come at someone through an over-hyped cold call, you’ll get written off. Now that there are much more nurturing approaches to sales, people are not going to put up with much else.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

Without a doubt, I’m the best at preparation. I teach target market research, which I consider to be the “secret sauce” of finding clients, landing sales and scaling your business. When you take the intentional steps to connect with your audience, you can craft your messaging and your offerings to meet their specific needs. When people feel like you’re speaking directly to them, that’s when you know you’ve done it.

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Again, most of my leads (and the leads I help my clients land) are done through consistent target market research. Once I learn more about what my audience wants, I create content and copy based on my findings which helps bring more leads in.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

I think because we’re all so afraid of being pushy salespeople we get freaked out the moment anyone objects to what we’re selling. But when you do target market research correctly, you become aware of all of your audience’s potential objections ahead of time so you can prepare yourself for when they inevitably come up.

To become better at handling objections, you should know that pretty much all objections are fear-based. They come directly from a specific pain point that most of your clients can probably relate to. I’d uncover what those objections are, and then craft a few responses and points you can repeatedly use that show you not only have empathy for their fears, but you have the solution to solving them too.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

  1. Demonstrate empathy. If your prospect has suggested a problem they’ve been dealing with, really listen and show that you care.
  2. Remind them of what they want. Your target market research will show you what it is your clients are after when it comes to buying your product or service, so make sure to bring that up during consultations.
  3. Show examples. Have your testimonials and reviews ready so you can demonstrate your value by other people’s positive experiences with your products or services.
  4. Have options. Price will be an issue for some people, so provide a couple of different pricing options.
  5. Focus on the relationship, not the sale. Even if someone doesn’t purchase from you immediately, building a relationship will increase the likelihood that they will in the future.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

When you follow up with a lead, focus on providing value and service. Maybe there’s a freebie or a discounted course you can offer them so they can become more familiar with your work and trustworthy of your services. Never lead with the intent of closing the sale. Modern sales are not a one-and-done deal anymore, they’re built on ongoing relationships that require nurture and care.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

Personally, I find texts to be a little unprofessional. I think emails, video calls and phone calls are great ways to follow up and close a sale.

There’s something special about getting a video or voice message from someone — that took time, preparation, and effort. They had to get ready (hopefully) and think about WHY they wanted to speak to you in the first place…but my personal preference is email combined with video — with the time I spent working at the law firm, I have found that I prefer to keep things in writing — it’s important to build trust, and it makes it easier to clarify and as questions as to the scope or tenants of the product or program that you’re selling (you can do the same in video — but combining the two is my favorite).

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want to inspire people to cultivate more connections, both on and offline. I would want people to put real effort and time into their relationships with no expectation other than just expanding their circle of genuine people, fostering a community of support and lifting each other up.

That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: https://www.breannagunn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebreannagunn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebreannagunn/?hl=en

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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