I recently asked the question on Quora.com: “What’s the hardest thing about sales and why?” Turns out rejection in sales is a universal source of anguish. What follows is the best answer I received, and some thoughts on why. John Perrin wrote:
The hardest thing about sales is being instantly hated when you mention your profession.
Anyone who’s been in sales more than a few days knows exactly what he’s talking about: “Especially when it comes to cold calls and meetings as people tend to feel uneasy about the whole process, especially when you have seriously pushy and ignorant sales people making the whole profession go the wrong way. But being able to take rejection on the chin and get on with the next call is also hard for many. It goes against our nature to just bat off a moment of emotion (anger/hostility) without seeking to correct it, but it comes with the sales territory so being able to deal with it needs to come sooner rather than later.”
Program For Success
John’s answer: “How do you rise above the rejection? At the office we have a motto; a phrase really, that we have managed to program ourselves to respond well too. ‘Next!’ is what we shout once we get a deal, accomplish something, have a horrid day, bad cold calls or get our ego’s knocked down a bit. From the start we have just used this phrase consistently and managed to get into the mind frame that once we say “Next!” we just move on and don’t think about it. This may not work for everyone but it helps to remain in that team mentality regardless of targets or goals. What we have found is that because we work as a unit, rejection too is dealt with as a unit from the beginning and our people learn to adapt it to a personal level.”
There were many other responses on Quora, you can read the balance of them here but I like John’s the best though, because 1.) He reflected on the most difficult aspect of their operation, 2.) He postulates what the most likely causes are, and then 3.) He goes on to explain how they have developed a repeatable process for dealing with it. Let’s unpack John’s response further:
The Stink of Sales
I can relate to John’s biggest issue. In my interactions with customers, as well as with sales people, I constantly run into people who have been done wrong by careless, or unethical sales people and gotten a “bad taste” in their mouth. As a result, trust of sales people has continued to drop year after year and it’s harder and harder to get people to listen to you.
Dealing With Rejection in Sales
As John pointed out, it’s our natural instinct to react emotionally when rejected (or attacked.) For most of us, it’s really hard to pick up that phone, or go back out there and keep smiling and be positive after getting your teeth kicked in a bunch of times. Naturally, we should do some solid analysis from time to time to make sure there are no fundamental flaws in our approach, or our process, but even in the best of worlds, salespeople will face some level of rejection. Clearly, this job is not for everyone, but even for those who enjoy the job, who love working in sales, facing rejection day after day can really wear on you after a while.
Turning Defense Into Offense
I love the strategy John’s team has adopted here: Their team’s philosophy is to dismiss the rejection out of hand and focus on what’s ahead. The result is sort of a shared consciousness of rejecting rejection! Will there be rejection in sales? Yes. Does it suck? Hell yes. Is it going away? Hell no. It may even be increasing, but what’s important is what’s out in front, not what has passed. It’s important for the team to help each other remember that if some prospect wants to be negative, that’s their right, but let’s not bring it in here. In here, we’ve got targets. We’ve got goals. We’re moving on. Next!
I encourage you to Connect with John on Linkedin
also , you might like to check out these other fine posts by my esteemed colleagues on dealing with rejection in sales:
What’s your secret for dealing with rejection in sales?