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How To Avoid Taking Rejection Personally In Sales

The most common thing you hear in sales is “no.” Sure, it can be sugar-coated and turned into a more palatable, more polite message. However, at the end of the day, it’s all the same thing: rejection. Salespeople, whatever field they’re active in, must all be equipped to handle rejection regularly and in all its forms. The greatest lack in sales training is often the avoidance of any discussion of this (beyond simple questions during the interview), as well as the absence of any kind of tools to deal with it. While I’m no expert, I have been on the receiving end of this for some time, and thus I’d like to provide my humble two cents on how to avoid taking rejection personally.

This article isn’t about turning a no into a yes or any other such nonsense. Rather, it’s about learning to deal with rejection over the short and long-term. I’m no psychiatrist, nor am I trained in any kind of medicine whatsoever, and the advice presented here constitutes my opinion. If you think your problems may be serious, please stop reading and seek medical advice immediately.

A matter of perspective.

The easiest method to help with rejection is simply to put it in its place within the grand scheme of things. A momentary rejection may be a mildly traumatic event at the present moment, but it means extremely little when seen in the context of a month, a week, or even a day. Since most calls will lead to rejections, worrying over this one is akin to a drop in the ocean.

Even rejections in larger accounts should be seen within this context. You spent time on the deal and expected success, but it didn’t pan out. This may seem dramatic in the short- or medium-term (days to weeks), but will fade as soon as you start taking the monthly view. You could certainly have used that deal (you can always use more deals. Always), but there are others; other prospects other deals. Just bear the time frame and your goals in mind and you’ll be able to pick yourself up quickly.

Build resilience the old-fashioned way.

The quick pick-me-up in the previous section is useful in the short term, when you need to get back up and get calling. In the longer-term, however, it can lead to disillusionment and de-motivation. After all, seeing every call within the greater context will inevitably lead to doubts about putting the required effort in. Why, after all, should you work hard at every call if most will be rejections anyhow? Why not just call without preparation, and see what happens?

In order to address this, we’ll have to reach back to an article I wrote some time ago about Stoicism in sales, and we’ll have to reach back rather further to get to the concepts I discuss therein. Don’t worry, I won’t go into a full history of Stoicism here, nor will I discuss all of its aspects. Rather, I’d like to introduce you to one key aspect from it: definition of what you can control. This is an important concept to the Stoics, and it can help you with motivational difficulties you might have from facing rejection every day.

Rather than becoming upset about being rejected, I would invite you to analyze how much of it is within your purvey. Your preparation certainly was, as was your dialing the phone. Your prospect, however, most certainly is not. However much you prepared, it is still their prerogative to simply say no.

Does this mean you shouldn’t prepare well and thoroughly? Not at all; rather the opposite, in fact. By focusing on what’s in your power, you become safely insulated from the deleterious effects of the rejections that may come; after all, they aren’t within your power. You do, however, want to do the best you can, since that is all you can ever do. Thus, you should focus on the preparation, the research, your soft skills, and your continued training and improvement.

By focusing on these, you’re not motivating yourself to do your job to the best of your ability, you’re also increasing your changes of a ‘yes’ the next time you call. The latter is a happy side effect of focussing on what you can control. Likewise, by keeping your focus on this, enraged and upset prospects and clients will have less of an effect on you. While you will, of course, attempt to help them, you will no longer see yourself as involved in their upset, and will be able to remain calm.

Keep calm and carry on.

Keeping calm is your ultimate goal; by remaining calm and unfazed, you’ll naturally develop a more positive outlook on life. As you do so, you’ll notice rejection can more and more easily be shrugged off. The Brits have it right: keep calm and carry on. If you adopt this maxim, you’ll be able to achieve great things.

Once again, a side effect of keeping this kind of calm (also called a Stoic calm) and self-possession is an increase in successful calls. You won’t be upset by a rejection, and you’ll be able to go into every call with your A-game. Think about the next call, not the last one, and carry on.

As ever, I wish you all the best and hope this has been useful to you.

Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!

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