Jen Hartmann of NEAT Marketing: “Practice empathy”

Practice empathy. Empathy is extremely powerful when it comes to building trust and closing sales. Empathy goes a step beyond sympathy, and shows that you’re feeling exactly what your prospect is feeling. As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Practice empathy. Empathy is extremely powerful when it comes to building trust and closing sales. Empathy goes a step beyond sympathy, and shows that you’re feeling exactly what your prospect is feeling.


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 Jen Hartmann

Jen Hartmann is a corporate dropout turned multiple 6-figure sales and marketing coach. She is on a mission to help women who are one glass of bourbon away from quitting their business, to effortlessly growing their brand through unique sales and marketing strategies.


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?

I landed my first corporate “dream” job in a major city in 2018. It was everything a young 20-something could’ve wanted in a job: a beautiful downtown office, great pay, bagel Fridays and comfy bean bag chairs. However, just 4 months into this role, I was at the receiving end of bullying and harassment. I quickly realized this wasn’t the role for me, so I jumped into action and started searching for new positions, but couldn’t find quite what I was looking for. I decided to take a leap of faith and create my dream role by starting my own company, NEAT Marketing. I was eager to create a brand that would help small business owners grow and scale with unique sales and marketing strategies. 18 months and 100+ clients later, I feel confident that I’ve served my purpose!

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?

I went through formal sales training during my first role after college. The training was clearly created by men, for men. I took what I learned in this training and brought it into my business, and was not signing clients. Oh, the irony — a sales coach who couldn’t make sales! Here’s where I went wrong: I was using masculine sales techniques to close female clients. After hours of research and dozens of missed opportunities, I learned that women buy differently than men do! Women tend to buy based on feelings, while men buy based on features. Identify the transformation your product or service provides and sell that!

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

I’m currently working on a group coaching program called Lazy Girl Launch School! It’s a live group coaching program that was built to teach new entrepreneurs how to create an offer, successfully launch and sell out using their social media platform of choice. In the coaching industry, there is a lot of noise. Lazy Girl Launch School cuts through the noise, and gives you an easy step-by-step plan to grow a wildly in-demand service using social media!

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 am eternally grateful for my first business coach, Avery Yaktus. I had all of the ingredients to run a successful business, but I truly needed help with a high-level strategy to get there! Prior to working with a business coach, I felt like I was throwing spaghetti at the wall but nothing was sticking. As a new entrepreneur, this was extremely frustrating! After working with a business coach, I had complete and total clarity around how to build a brand, scale and create more passive income.

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

I”m the CEO of a sales and marketing coaching company, and have helped my clients make over $500,000 in the last 12 months! Along with running my business, I have formal sales training and have past experience in sales. Prior to starting my own business, I worked as a business development specialist and account manager where I closed deals with large global brands!

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?

The last year has been extremely challenging on our mental health. Humans are social creatures. Even though we may not be able to spend time with others in-person, we have access to incredible technology that allows us to feel connected! Schedule a Zoom party with your friends and family members! My friends and I have been using an app called Marco to connect during Covid, and we love it. You can send video recordings and it feels like you’re there in-person! Sending daily text messages to loved ones who need extra support makes a world of difference. Covid has forced me to be a much better communicator through text and video chat! It’s actually brought me even closer to some of my loved ones.

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?

I graduated with my MBA in 2018, and not a single class covered sales. I thought it was wild, since most jobs require you to have a basic understanding of sales. One of the reasons I believe sales is left out of the classroom is because there’s a lack of familiarity with the topic. Many professors have been instructors for years and lack real-world sales experience. I also believe that sales goes beyond the classroom and is ever-changing, and because of this, it can be difficult to teach in a university setting! I went through formal sales training after business school, but didn’t feel like I was equipped with the necessary skills to close deals. I learned most of my sales skills through working with mentors and learning on the go from trial and error!

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, 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 do agree with this assumption! When consumers hear words like “salesy” or “pushy”, many of them think of a sleazy car salesman. This way of selling is no longer effective and is extremely off-putting! Today’s consumer is smart — they can sense when a salesperson is coming across as pushy. Consumers have evolved, and sales needs to, too!

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?

When it comes to sales, I feel like I am best at handling objections! After hundreds of sales conversations, I feel confident in my ability to uncover an objection and walk my prospect through it. My secret sauce to handling objections is the following: trigger an objection by asking, “are you ready to move forward?”, repeat the objection and ask a follow up question to gain clarity and then finally, tackle the objection with a great story or by accommodating my prospect. The most common objection I hear as an online business owner is pricing, “your program is too expensive for me.” I typically respond by saying, “it sounds like my program may be a bit much for you right now. I’m curious, is it the overall cost or is it the fear of not seeing a return on investment?” If my prospect says that it’s a fear of not seeing a return on her investment, I’ll respond with empathy and address her concerns, and then dive into a story about a past client who felt the same way and the results she saw by investing in my program, despite her fear. I usually offer to connect my prospect with this former client as well, to build even more trust! When it comes to objections, I’ve learned that they all come from the same place — mistrust. The prospect doesn’t trust you, your company, your product or themselves! As long as you dive into objection handling with this in mind, you’ll be able to close any deal.

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?

It all starts with understanding what social media platform your dream client is spending the most time on. As a sales and marketing coach who serves online business owners, I know that it’s easiest to find and connect with prospects on Instagram! I typically search through hashtags or titles that my dream client holds, like “fitness coach” or “social media manager”. Once I find a prospect who fits my criteria, I click the “follow” button, watch her recent stories and then respond to one that resonates with me! It’s a great, non-salesy way to get a conversation started with a dream client.

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’?

One reason that I believe objections are tough to handle is because it’s intimidating and extremely personal. You’re asking a prospect to explain why they don’t see the value in your offer, or why the timing isn’t right. Objections can hit really close to home with prospects! The other reason I believe objections are tough to handle is because most people don’t have the skillset to overcome them. Even with formal sales training, it took years for me to master the art of objection handling! Practice makes perfect when it comes to learning your own unique method for tackling objections. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re hit with an objection. When you ask your prospect questions about his or her objection, you’ll get them to open up more and you’ll quickly figure out where the objection is stemming from. Objections can be conversation starters, not enders!

‘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. Practice empathy. Empathy is extremely powerful when it comes to building trust and closing sales. Empathy goes a step beyond sympathy, and shows that you’re feeling exactly what your prospect is feeling. For example, if you’re speaking to a prospect who is fearful of making an investment in her business because she had a bad experience, tell a story about that time you also made a terrible investment. Empathy builds trust, and trust helps close sales!
  2. Always ask, “are you ready to move forward?” to ensure that you’ve covered every single objection. Most consumers have a few objections, but unless prompted, they won’t reveal them all! By asking “are you ready to move forward?” your prospect will either 1) reveal another objection or 2) respond by saying “yes!” and you can seal the deal.
  3. Clearly define next steps! All-too-often, salespeople get so excited about closing a deal, that they forget to outline the next steps! Before hanging up the phone, make sure to let your prospect know what you’ll do on your end to move the sale forward and list out what you’ll need from them in return. If a prospect is confused about the next step in the process, you can easily lose a deal. A confused prospect never converts!
  4. Don’t forget to create urgency. If there’s no urgency in your sales conversation, you lose control of the sale. If your prospect believes the service will be available forever, there is no rush for them to sign a contract. I personally love to use price increase as an urgency! This works especially well if your client is bargain-driven. If they’re value-driven, you can use a fast-action bonus incentive to get them to sign your contract ASAP.
  5. Follow up a few times! According to HubSpot, 80% of sales require 5 follow up conversations. Out of my hundreds of sales conversations, I’ve never had a prospect sign a contract during our initial conversation. Do not be afraid to follow up with leads until you get a “no, thank you!”

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?

Most of my sales come from following up with prospects! Don’t forget, your prospects are humans too. They get busy and they forget to sign contracts! Before you end a sales conversation, I recommend telling your prospect when they can expect a follow up and then ask what mode of communication they’d prefer (social media, text message, email or phone call). I also recommend following up within 24 hours. People are forgetful, and you don’t want to run the risk of having to repitch your offer! When you follow up, ensure that you have a reason for doing so! My go-to message is, “Hey {first name}! I sent a contract to your email {insert prospect email} yesterday afternoon. Sometimes my contracts go straight to spam, so I wanted to follow up and ensure you received it. Let me know either way!” If your first message goes unanswered, follow up a few more times. I’ve even sent this message: “Hey {first name}! I wanted to check in and make sure you’re okay. I’m worried about you!” I’ve always gotten a response with this one, but make sure to save this for your last follow up message.

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?

It truly depends on your industry and your dream clients! For example, in my industry it’s perfectly acceptable to sell offers via direct message on Instagram. Sales calls are becoming less and less common in my industry. I’ve found that my dream client is extremely busy and just doesn’t have the time to sit on a 30-minute sales call. However, if you work for a marketing agency, sales calls are common! When it comes to following up, ask your prospect what his or her preferred method of communication is and let them know exactly when they can expect to hear from you. This way, you’re not surprising your prospect with a mid-afternoon phone call! I find that if you don’t communicate your follow up time, it almost feels like when a guest unexpectedly shows up at your doorstep.

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 love to see a push for more female founders! Access to mentorship, more affordable communities for like-minded women to come together to inspire and support one another and early education on entrepreneurship. Being a female founder has changed my life . I’ve been able to help over 100 women grow their brands and make an impact all while making an income. I only wish I would’ve started down this path sooner!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Instagram @neat.marketing, on my podcast (Served NEAT) and my website: www.neatmarketingllc.com

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

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Jennifer Hartmann of NEAT Marketing: “Accessibility to Resources”

by Jerome Knyszewski
Community//

Atticus, Alanis, and Why We Learn Empathy Then Lose It

by Michael Brenner
Community//

“Share Success Stories” With Mitch Russo & Barbara Rozgonyi

by Mitch Russo
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.