Brea Giffin is an outrageously successful professional whose focus is on results. She leads sales at Sprout and will share with us great insights.
Throughout her career, she has built up a proven track record of “exceeding quota and revenue goals and has demonstrated a strong ability to sell software into Benefits and HR departments in companies of all sizes.”
As shown in her work, Brea Giffin also has “incredible comfort in working with VP and C-Suite stakeholders to manage and close complex, high net worth opportunities.” She continues to exercise passion about “working in a fast paced, entrepreneurial environment, with experience taking a company from start-up to scale.” Her drive to create “engaging and productive company cultures” is contagious, and has spread to the many people she has worked with through the years.
At Sprout, Brea Giffin works as the Director of Sales, where she leads “all team strategy and revenue acquisition across multiple channels and geographies, while also maintaining a personal sales quota.” She also fulfills several responsibilities on the job, which include recruiting, hiring, training, and managing “a growing team of Account Executives and Business Development Representatives.” She is also responsible for “leading a team of salespeople in a fast-paced client focused environment,” where she ensures that her team members meet all sales quotas. Finally, she maintains a “close relationship with Marketing Team, providing support and feedback for lead-generating activities and events.”
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Brea Giffin: I grew up in a family of nurses and doctors. Dad, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins — medical school was just what we did in our family. At the dinner table, I would listen to them talk about how many issues that people were suffering or dying from were preventable. When I finished university and thought about applying to medical school, I didn’t think I could do 8–12 more years of school. A conversation with my father convinced me that I would make a better business leader than a doctor. At the same time in my life, iPhones were everywhere, Facebook went public — the world was going digital and I was really interested in how it would shape our future. I found it strange that you could do almost everything online — except access your health data or interact with people or services who could help you improve your health. So I enrolled in a graduate program for Health Promotion and got an internship at a health & wellness tech startup called Sprout. The rest, as they say, is history.
The most important thing to take your company from good to great is the people you have around you. Brea Giffin
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Brea Giffin: Yes — the first several years at Sprout were an uphill battle. We were selling a B2B SaaS program to companies who thought that a wellness program for their employees was a nice to have — a luxury item. I was told “no” more times than I thought was possible. On top of that, we had all the normal growing pains you would expect from a startup — long hours, no resources, no “right” answers. I thought about giving up probably once a week. The drive to carry on came from the people around me. We all took turns wanting to give up, or convincing the others that we shouldn’t.The most important thing to take your company from good to great is the people you have around you. Make sure they’re people with the same drive, passion and direction. Make sure that they’re people who you want to celebrate wins with, and learn from the losses together.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Brea Giffin: As a Canadian company, we legally needed to provide our service in both French and English for some of our earlier prospects who were headquartered in Quebec. We were so new that we were making things up on the fly. We were selected as a finalist for a huge global enterprise who was based in Quebec — we thought this was our moment! We thought that since we were English speaking, the client probably wouldn’t make us demonstrate our product in French so we translated our solution using Google just as a backup for the demo. We were so wrong. We lost that big account the second the client saw that our “home” page was translated to say “maison” (which means house but NOT “homepage”). Our big presentation was over almost as quickly as it began. In the end, our stupid “home” mistake ended up losing us an account that was roughly the same cost as an actual “maison” — thanks, Google! The takeaway we learned was that (especially for a major presentation), you can never be too prepared. Plan for all scenarios. Test, test, re-test — and then test again.
Success and Compassion Go Hand in Hand.
Brea Giffin, Sprout
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Leadership Drives Change — great companies are built on the backs of great leaders. Great leaders are never too senior to go on the coffee run because that’s an opportunity to take care of their employees. Great leaders make time to get to know people at all levels of their organization because they know that every individual is critical to the success of their company. These things seem simple but if they’re practiced every day, they will produce a more loyal employee base who works harder to move your company towards its goals.
- Communication Is Key — Great companies are proactive with their communication — both internally and externally. Take every opportunity to communicate with your clients. Ask them how you can be better. Talk to your employees and ask what you can do differently to help them do their jobs better. Promote inter-departmental communication as frequently as possible. Especially with a lot of people working remotely right now, it’s easy to get siloed into your department and not have any idea what’s happening in another. If you can get people talking to one another, there is more opportunity for innovation and growth.
- There Are No Stupid Questions — Adding to the point above, encourage your employees to ask as many questions as they can. Getting curious with your clients and asking them as many questions as possible can open up pathways and opportunities to deepen your relationship with them.
- If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room — great companies prioritize learning — even at the leadership level. Strive to learn something new every day. Do that by surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do. You’ll push yourself to be better this way.
- Success and Compassion Go Hand in Hand — To take your company from good to great, you need leaders with compassion and empathy. The world has changed and the companies who view their employees as cogs in a wheel will be left behind. Leaders who recognize that their team members are people with diverse needs and abilities and are able to build personalized strategies around them that allow the company to use the employees unique “super powers”.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Brea Giffin: Ultimately, so many people start companies to do good and then they get caught up in profits along the way. People want to be part of that goodness you’re creating in the world so if your company is purpose driven — meaning you have a purpose beyond profit (think of companies like TOMS shoes) — your employees are more than five times more likely to stay with you. You won’t suffer through the struggle of high turnover. Your clients are much more loyal so there’s a lower risk of losing business. Your brand is more prominently held so you can close more business.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Brea Giffin: Over the past decade, the way people buy has shifted immensely. Thanks to the internet, 90% of the purchasing decision can be made on most items without ever having a Sales Person involved. Because of this, we see higher conversion rates with opportunities when we move away from traditional selling methods (like cold calling) and move towards what I refer to as “helping people buy”. To see higher conversion rates, you don’t need to live and die by your company’s defined process — understand how the client buys and fit your tactics into that. Try to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes — what information would you want readily available? How would you want to receive that information? If you challenge yourself to see things through your prospects eyes, you’ll be able to increase your conversion rates substantially.
Authenticity, communication and giving are all essential parts of creating a trusted brand. Brea Giffin
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Brea Giffin: Absolutely! Authenticity, communication and giving are all essential parts of creating a trusted brand. Be truthful to what you can deliver on. The sky is never the limit! Be creative but realistic and your customers will believe in you. Communicate about how your company operates and what is done when everything is going well, and how you will address and resolve problems when things don’t. Lastly, share your expertise! Think about how you can not only serve your clients, but how you can give back to a larger audience
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!