Eating Rejection: Acquiring an Appetite for Sales / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you’re going to be in sales you’ve got to learn to deal with rejection. Here's how to make it into something positive.

Remember that person you always wanted to date but never had the nerve to ask out?

Actually, it wasn’t so much that you didn’t have the nerve as much as you've feared getting rejected. And if you didn’t ask, then you didn’t risk the disappointment, not to mention possible humiliation.

Of course, it also meant your chances of ever going out with that person were reduced to zero. Because, without asking, you’d never know. Moreover, even if the answer was, no, then at least you could stop pining and move on.

Rejection is part of life. It is unquestionably part of conducting business, and especially part of sales. You’ve got not only learn to live with it, but actually thrive, and not just despite it, but because of it.

Here’s how the author ofHow I Created a Dollar Out of Thin Air Ann Marie Houghtailing describes it

I think that rejection and failure [are] so loaded with shame and embarrassment that it keeps people from trying; because if you don’t’ try you can’t get rejected. For me rejection proves that we’ve shown up and put ourselves out into the world... You can’t survive if you aren’t resilient. Unquestionably, in all of the things I do the opportunity for rejection is infinitely higher than acceptance. I can’t tell you that rejection never stings. Of course it does [but] ... if you aren’t getting rejected it only means that you aren’t playing the game and what’s the fun of that?

It’s not surprising that Houghtailing describes herself as “eating rejection for breakfast” every morning.

If that sounds like your everyday diet, how then do you develop an appetite for sales, where rejection is unavoidably on the menu? According to Thomas Freese, author of Question-Based Selling, new prospect sales calls have a 98 percent probability of being rejected.

By turning those empty calories (when the customer says, no) into nutrients (productive customer relationships that lead to, yes more often than not).

Here are some tips on how to turn an initial rejection into a positive outcome, for both you and your customer.

Related Article: You Can Do It: Unique Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team in a New Year

Cartoon mocking sales plan with dollar sign as only pitch.

Do Your Homework

The quickest route to a no-sale is not knowing specifically what your customer needs are as well as how your product or service can best meet those needs.

Nobody likes their time wasted. If you’ve got something pertinent and potentially valuable to offer, customers will listen. But that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll say, yes.

Because they’re also listening to your competitors. What happens after you’ve made a solid pitch and the customer tells you they’ve decided to go with someone else?

Ask for a Second Chance

The worst that can happen here is that they’ll just say, no again. But the odds are, they won’t. As Dan Tyre points out, “Your prospect has done you a favor by calling and giving you a heads up. 

Many leads simply stop picking up the phone and don’t even have the courtesy to tell you they’ve gone in another direction."

Thank them for letting you know, and then ask what was lacking in your offer. Was it missing features or services? Price? A strategic change in direction? A poor prior experience with your company?

Whatever it is, ask if you can present a potentially better deal. By tomorrow. Don’t let this linger, you want to demonstrate both that you are nimble enough to move quickly and maintain customer attention.

Related Article: Attitude is Everything: Get Back to Being Motivated to Sell

Understand the Problem

Again, there’s little point in expending effort to turn a “no” into “”yes” if you don’t understand what the objections are that have led to the, no decision, and how you can overcome those objections.

Rehashing what you’ve already presented is only going to lead to customer irritation and impair future dealings.

And if you aren’t in a position to positively and realistically overcome these objections point-by-point, then all you’re doing is setting yourself up for another rejection.

Put It in Writing

There’s something more tangible about seeing a pitch or an offer on the printed page (or screen, as the case may be).

First off, it shows you’ve done your homework. Plus, it shows willingness to put time and effort to try to better satisfy customer needs and meet expectations.

And it’s something the customer can refer to after you’ve made your pitch, which makes it more likely to be front-of-mind.

Related Article: Born to Sell: What Makes a Successful Sales Personality?

Follow Up, but Don’t Be Annoying

There’s a fine line between following up in hopes of influencing a positive decision and being a pest.

The latter is going to greatly increase the odds of getting rejected again. But a short email or telephone call to inquire if there are any further questions you can resolve, or anything else you can do to help, will keep the customer engaged and demonstrate you’re willingness to “go the extra mile.”

Just don’t do it more than once or twice.

Take “No” for an Answer — You May Get a “Yes” Next Time

Even after all this additional work you may still get turned down. Don’t take it personally.

Consider, instead, that you’ve laid the groundwork for “better luck next time”. You’ve demonstrated that you understand what your customer wants, and while maybe it didn’t work out this time, your chances are much better for the next time around.

Sort of like with the person who turned you down for that date, but whom you've eventually ended up marrying.  


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