“Relate to that person.” With Mitch Russo & Tanner Chidester

One of the things I am hearing from clients is that they are scared, so I talk about mindset. I tell them to believe in themselves and their ability. With all the people rooting against you and putting you down, you have to be the one person who thinks you can do it. The second […]

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One of the things I am hearing from clients is that they are scared, so I talk about mindset. I tell them to believe in themselves and their ability. With all the people rooting against you and putting you down, you have to be the one person who thinks you can do it. The second people get resistance, they quit.

Asa part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tanner Chidester.

Tanner Chidester is the CEO of Elite CEOs and Fit Warrior. Tanner has been an industry leader not only in the fitness industry but in the digital marketing and sales space as well. He is a four-time winner of the “2 comma club” award and an “8 Figure Club” member from ClickFunnels. Fit Warrior is a fitness coaching program to help clients shred fat and eat how they want. Elite CEOS helps fitness trainers and online businesses to generate more revenue.

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?

Igrew up in a large family of Mormons, as the third oldest out of seven. We didn’t have a lot of money, so I got bullied all the time. When he was 12, I turned to lifting at the gym to cope. Fitness was the catalyst to my success, starting with carrying me through most of college as a Division One Linebacker. After several shoulder injuries, my dream to go pro was gone, and I didn’t know how I felt about continuing my degree in Petroleum Engineering. I took the advice of my mentor to drop out with just one year left to pursue sales. I knew from a young age that sales was going to be the only way I could choose how much income I would be able to make.

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

Door to door sales was the hardest and probably most humiliating thing in the world for me to do. People would curse at me and say the rudest things to me even though I was just trying to make a living for myself.

However it taught me a lesson. When I started doing phone sales I couldn’t believe how much easier they were compared to door to door. Now I had the chance to frame and prepare the prospect for the sale. With door to door you’re showing up unannounced and only have 15–25 minutes to get the sale done.

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

I may be making a new app that helps online business owners better market and run their online ads. Currently I have a COO who runs my main business so I’m on the lookout for newer ventures.

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?

The mentor I mentioned earlier, named David Frey. He convinced me to leave college and start my own business while everyone (including my family and girlfriend at the time) said I was crazy.

Without him pushing me, I never would have built the business I have today. I would wake up and work out at the gym, then go to his garage office and sit there all day and learn about online marketing. He didn’t pay me anything but him helping was invaluable to me.

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

I’ve done over 13 million dollars in sales in under two years starting two businesses from scratch. I know how to get leads to the point of sale and push the deal through better than most. I always manage a sales team of five guys who take 7+ calls a day for the business. I’m a four-time winner of the “2 comma club” award and an “8 Figure Club” member from ClickFunnels, which signifies doing a minimum of $1 million and $1 billion in a sales funnel.

Not to mention I have door to door background, server background, and a trainer background which also honed the soft skills you need in sales.

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?

I think words are nice but actions are even better. One of the things I am hearing from clients is that they are scared, so I talk about mindset. I tell them to believe in themselves and their ability. With all the people rooting against you and putting you down, you have to be the one person who thinks you can do it. The second people get resistance, they quit. But based on my experience, if your will is strong enough, you will find a way to reach your goal. I knew nothing about sales and marketing, but through trial and error, I succeeded.

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 versalite topics, is totally ignored?

I think most of the things taught in school aren’t as relevant as we think they are, especially to something like sales. I learned more when I was a server at Olive Garden — about holding conversation, persuading people on menu choices, reading the audience per se, than I did in school. Only thing I took away was basic math, writing, speaking, and keyboard skills.

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?

Yes, I think that’s accurate. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold to. Everyone wants to feel like it’s their idea. I’ve found by pre-framing before the call and then just being brutally honest on the phone makes people feel more comfortable. Also as my business has grown I genuinely care less and less about the sale because we get so many. I’m more interested in having meaningful clients, so I don’t feel forced to make someone make a decision if it’s not a fit.

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?

Prospecting and preparation. I am so in tuned with what answers I need to see on an application before ever speaking with someone that it’s taken my sales team to a 70% close rate on phone calls.

Our application weeds out people because if hte answers on an application aren’t indicative of a sale, we don’t spend the time. Having a sales team close 70% and NOT 30% boosts morale and makes guys stick around for a long time.

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?

My simple process is to first target a prospect with a Facebook Ad. Then message then on Facebook Messenger, with multiple follow ups, until they book a call. Inside Messenger we frame and ask proper questions to make sure they are ready for the close.

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’?

The best way to handle objections is through door to door sales. That was the single greatest learning experience of my life. There are infinite amounts of objections that can be thrown out with door to door. When the sale is controlled over the phone it’s much easier.

‘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. Relate to that person.
  2. Acknowledge what they are saying and feeling. Very rarely will someone tell you they are scared or afraid or “not ready.”
  3. Reassure them that it’s all normal to feel those emotions before making a big decision that is good for them. That makes it really easy to push the sale through.
  4. Frame and ask qualifying questions to determine the prospect is ready to buy.
  5. Have conviction that what you are selling is a great product.

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?

That’s why my company does Facebook Messenger for conversion conversations. We receive 90%+ open rates and the technique is not seen as invasive. People reply all the time and we are able to follow up and get responses and push new products.

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?

Don’t sell over email or text message. Always speak to your prospect and take the payment over the phone. In person and video calls will have the highest closing percentage because they can see you and trust will be higher.

You need to make sure they are prepared to make a decision on the spot. The classic Ii’ll think about it” technique means they will say no every single time.

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 want to do something BIG. I don’t even know what that is yet. Right now I consult others on their businesses and help it grow but I want more influence and impact. I want to speak on stages and help people build their dream lives. I’m only 28 so I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.

How can our readers follow you online?




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

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