The surprising and most rewarding way to deal with (sales) rejection

sadHint: it’s NOT ‘don’t take it personally!’

Pay-off: the fastest way to turn sales rejection into more sales
Investment: < 3 mins

Please share this with anyone you know in sales. They might be very grateful.

This works for sales people and anyone who’s faced or will face rejection. (Bit broad? Never mind, it’s an eye opener.)

I meet a lot of sales people. And I unsurprisingly discover that most of them hate being rejected. But I also discover that most of them deal with rejection very ineffectively and potentially at a very high cost – in a way that leaves them open to further rejection again. And even the smartest person in the room struggles with this! I’ve worked with many smart people who crumble when rejected.

This is a big deal.

The cost of this

There are lost business opportunities attached to this problem. There are rewarding relationships that could have been but failed early because of this problem and this will continue today, next week, and next year. Multiply that by each person in your sales team who is making this same costly mistake, and this causes an often unnoticed but significant enough impact on your revenue.

And it gets worse – perhaps the most common advice to deal with sales rejection exacerbates the problem! I’ll explain why shortly…

Ignore the common advice

The thing is, you, your sales team, and your business are worth much more than this and need something sharper than the common advice written in all the sales books, sales courses and articles.

Here it is, and before you close your browser, I’m not about to advise you to ‘not take rejection personally!’

Perhaps the most common natural reaction to sales rejection (or any form of rejection) is to take it personally. Obviously this instantly destroys sales productivity for the person in question. No one wants that. Neither the business, the boss, the sales person or the customer.

And so the apparently sensible advice to take care of ‘the rejected’ is, ‘hey…hey…come here you…..have a cuddle and don’t take it personally.’

And so at best, they walk away telling themselves it’s not personal. And merrily carry on getting rejected at the same rate that they always have.

Thinking that rejection is personal or alternatively admiring your self-control and telling yourself that it’s not personal (after someone reminded you) are both costly in sales.

Both carry the risk of stunting your growth, because they don’t empower you to improve your approach.

They put a cap on your performance, results and rewards.

The most useful reaction to rejection

No, when rejected, perhaps the most useful thing to think is:

What didn’t I do that I could have done to reduce the chances of being rejected?

Note: being rejected means you proposed an apparent ‘fit’ that they thought didn’t fit. Perhaps they’re right and you got the fit wrong.

So what did you do wrong?

Or perhaps they’re wrong, because they weren’t helped to see the fit clearly.

So what did you do wrong?

Get it?

Look, I’m not debating whether it’s personal or not. That line of questioning sits in another category. I’m not interested in the answer to that question. I’m interested in what I have control over that I can use to develop new habits to connect more value to my customers. That’s useful thinking.

And so I ask myself these questions when my proposal of what I thought fitted is rejected (if I see no fit, I don’t propose – I point them towards the right fit):

  1. What did I think, say or do that made them feel this wasn’t the right fit? And how will I prevent myself from doing that again?
  2. What didn’t I find out that I should have to realise this wasn’t the right fit?
  3. What questions should I have asked to do that? And how will I ensure I ask them next time?

Those are the questions of growth (personal and business) – the questions that point towards more sales, more revenue, more happier customers and more rewards further down the line.

Help your business

I think some of the sales people in your organisation could do with stamping out the advice of ‘don’t take it personally!’ and shift their thinking towards a more useful outcome. They’d surely prefer a hug from winning a new deal more than a hug telling them not to take it personally?

So please help them by sharing this so it can reach those who need it.

Many thanks,


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