How to Handle Rejection in Sales
"You’re too young.
You’re not tall enough for that ride
I think of you more like a friend"
The fact that rejection is such a fact of life from an early age doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
It’s an even bigger part of the sales professionals life. Day-in, day-out. Pouring your heart and soul into a sales pitch. Masterfully pre-empting and swatting off those objections, still to get hit with it.
‘Thanks, but no thanks’.
It’s tough, but learning how to handle rejection in sales is absolutely crucial for your growth and success. In this article, we'll explore practical ways to deal with the inevitable "nos" gracefully and effectively, turning them into opportunities to refine your approach and boost your resilience.
Dealing with rejection in sales
Realizing its not always in your control
Rejection is a part of every sales rep’s life, but that doesn't mean it's easy to process. Dealing with rejection starts by understanding the common sales objections you may encounter. These objections often stem from factors outside your control. Timing. Budget. Competition. It's crucial to remember that not every rejection is a direct reflection of your skills as a salesperson. This is one time where “it’s not you…it’s me” is actually true. And it will serve you well to remember that.
Adopting a ‘Growth Mindset’
Rejections can often cause a rollercoaster of emotions, from fear and self-doubt to frustration. Driving yourself crazy as your pour over your process, second-guessing where you went wrong when, in reality, there may have been not a thing you could have done differently to affect the outcome.
What you need is a ‘growth mindset’.
Carole Dweck’s seminal book “Mindset” changed forever how we view human potential, success, and achievement.
A renowned Stanford psychologist, she posited that it is not intelligence, talent, or education that sets people apart; it’s their mindset.
You either have a fixed mindset where you think your potential and ability are set in stone. ‘Oh, I’m no good at math…’
Or you have a growth mindset, where you believe that if you apply yourself and develop your skills, you can build on the qualities that come more naturally.
“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you're not the best—it's all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome”Carole Dweck, Mindset. 2015
It might seem obvious. Like an extension of Henry Ford’s ‘Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.’ But it was built on cutting-edge developments in the world of neuroplasticity- our brain's capacity to change and adapt through our lifetime- and it shook up the education system. And if applied to the business world, it can shake up your potential results there too.
Your mindset is absolutely vital. How you react to these most inevitable of rejections.
Maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on your overall sales confidence in these situations makes such a difference in how you handle rejections moving forward. It's essential to remember that rejection is not a personal attack on you - instead, see it as valuable feedback that can help you refine your sales approach and help you increase your close rate in the future.
“Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of our personal reality.”says Psychologist Linda Humphreys.
So much of what we believe to be true is how we frame it.
Don't get stuck in a cycle of negative emotions; channel those feelings into self-improvement and a hunger for success. This is what will help you overcome the pain of rejection.
When facing rejection, try to find the silver lining.
Reframe that “no” with the old sales cliche ‘Each no has you one step closer to the Yes.’ (Stop shuddering! It’s a cliche because it’s true)
Use your strengths to focus on the positive aspects and potential opportunities.
With every rejection, there's a chance to learn and grow. View rejection as a stepping stone to future success rather than a dead end, and this will help in building resilience and boost your overall sales performance.
Okay, so that’s the science and theory behind why this mindset shift is so crucial. Let now dive into a few actionable steps to fortify it.
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Developing Resilience and Coping Strategies
Developing resilience in the face of rejection is crucial for long-term success in sales. Here are a few tips to help you overcome rejection, bounce back, and keep pushing forward:
- Refuse to internalize failure: It's essential not to see rejection as a personal affront or a sign of incompetence. Instead, recognize that numerous factors can lead to rejection.
- Create a routine: A consistent routine helps you maintain productivity even when rejection gets tough. Stick to a schedule and set sales goals to stay driven.
- Study your sales approach: Self-reflection and improvement are vital to success. You can benefit from reviewing your sales strategies and making adjustments based on feedback. If you need help with this, ask your sales manager or another sales rep on the team. They may be able to point out things you aren’t seeing.
Remember, developing resilience to rejection comes with time and experience. Listen and learn from each "no," and keep your mindset focused on growth and improvement. You'll be well on your way to conquering your sales goals in no time.
Getting rejected in any scenario is difficult. When coupled with the fact that, as a salesperson, it’s also tied to your overall job performance and pay, it gets even more complicated. Your knee-jerk reaction might be to get upset, which is completely valid, but it’s important that you do your best to keep your composure in front of your prospect.
Dr. Becker-Phelps suggests taking a little time before responding after a rejection, if possible. Creating some space helps you get perspective, calm down, and ultimately give a less emotional and more effective response.
Consider having a practiced response ready for any real-time or face-to-face interactions. In those scenarios, you might not have the luxury of time to cool down. Proactively preparing yourself with a rehearsed response means you’re less likely to fire back with something emotional or defensive.
Always remember, just because someone isn’t ready to buy at the moment doesn’t mean they won’t be ready in the future. Even though it’s disappointing, be sure you thank them for their time and also leave the door open for future contact. Responding positively- even when disappointed- speaks volumes about your character.
Don't take it personally
When a deal falls through, it’s really difficult not to feel as though there must’ve been something you personally did wrong to cause things to go sideways.
And, yes, while that can happen, most of the time, it’s something outside your control.
Maybe there was a better price or feature that you didn’t offer. Or the prospect just liked the competition’s product more. There are a million and one possibilities.
Whatever the case, do your best to be kind to yourself when those instances inevitably happen. Psychologist Dr. Pam Garcy suggests using positive self-talk exercises when you’re feeling down to help rebound.
If you find that all feels a bit woo-woo, think about the last time someone you knew faced a difficult situation. What did you do to console them?
You probably reminded them of all the good and did your best to downplay the bad, right? It’s one of the cruel ironies of the human condition that we rarely treat ourselves with the same compassion we save for our loved ones. If you’re willing to do it for someone else, why not be willing to do it for yourself?
Let it sting
When something bad happens, like getting rejected, it's natural to want to move on from it as quickly as possible. It makes sense. Pain, either emotional or physical, is unpleasant. In fact, a University of Michigan study found that our brains process physical and emotional pain the same way.
But it's important to experience the emotions that come with it fully. Ignoring your feelings prevents you from getting closure and just prolongs the negative effects of rejection.
Now, I'm not saying you should wallow in your emotions (unless that's part of your process). What I am saying is that you should take the time to understand and reflect on how you feel. This process takes time and varies based on the weight of the rejection.
A small business deal may only require a few minutes of reflection, while a bigger deal that you put a lot of work into may take longer. The key is to be deliberate in your processing and find a method that works for you. Maybe you like to go for a walk outside, sit in a quiet room, or go for a drive. Whatever it is, make sure you take the time to process your emotions in some form.
It's okay to feel disappointed but don't let that feeling kill your self-confidence.
Acknowledge it. Process it. Let it go.
Remember, everyone faces rejection, and it's how you handle it that sets you apart.
Talk it over (and out)
This is an underestimated one, and it ties in with processing the rejection: talk it out.
In the moment, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Rejection can feel lonely and personal. Discussing rejection with your colleagues or mentors can provide valuable insights, feedback, and support. Even if it's just a quick vent on Slack. Having that connection and feeling heard, getting it out there instead of bouncing around your skull, can work absolute wonders.
Remember, everyone faces rejection at some point, and it's okay to feel down about it. But don't let that feeling consume you. Reach out to someone you trust and let them support you through this difficult time. Together, you can gain the perspective you need to move forward and come out stronger on the other side.
Don’t let rejection define your sales career
Rejection is going to happen, and it's going to hurt. The first time and the fiftieth. But the mindset you develop and the strategies you set up to deal with it make all the difference in whether those rejections knock you down or drive you forward.
Most things are beyond your control. This part isn’t.
I hope you can take some of this knowledge and these techniques on-board to the benefit of your own work performance, your work environment, and even your own mental health.
But if your mind goes blank and all else fails, just remember:
“Every no brings you one step closer to a yes!”
How do you respond to a no in sales?
When receiving a no in sales, it's essential to stay calm and professional. Take the time to understand the prospect's objections, address them adequately, and provide valuable solutions. If the prospect still says no, thank them for their time and ask if you can follow up in the future.
What are the types of rejection in sales?
Sales rejection can stem from a variety of factors, including price objections, need-based objections, timing-based objections, and authority-based objections. Each type of rejection needs a different approach, so recognizing the root cause of the rejection in the first place is crucial for providing an appropriate response.
How can one build resilience to rejection in the sales field?
To build resilience in the sales field, remember that rejection is a part of the job. Learn to detach yourself from it personally and view it as a chance for growth. Reflect on each rejection, identify areas of improvement, and apply your learnings in future interactions.
What mindset should a successful salesperson have when dealing with rejection?
A successful salesperson should have a growth mindset when dealing with rejection. They should understand that rejection is a part of the sales process and should use it as a learning opportunity. Embrace rejections as an opportunity to improve, grow, and sharpen your sales skills.
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How can rejections be used as a learning experience in sales?
Rejections can serve as valuable feedback to help you hone your sales skills. Analyze each rejection to identify patterns and areas that need improvement. Focus on aspects such as the sales approach and conversations, communication skills, and targeting the right prospects to adapt and succeed in your next opportunity. This can be a great activity to do as part of a sales team meeting or sales training.
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