Bounce back from customer ‘rejection’ with positive attitude

  • But is rejection the problem? I don’t think so. The fear of rejection is. But even that isn’t the real problem; it is the meaning we give to the rejection that is the problem.

Rejection. The salesman’s nemesis. Rejection. The leading cause for the high attrition in the sales profession. Rejection. The foremost reason why most people shun sales.

Rejection is painful. Rejection is so painful, that many actively avoid it. Sadly though, for the salesperson, avoiding rejection is a step backwards towards safety, and not a step forward into growth.

Rejection manifests itself in different ways. The ultimate is an emphatic, NO! For the uninitiated, it is painful when you hear NO the first time; and it only cuts deeper the fourth and ninth time. The no could be to the product or even by the superstar salesperson on the novice’s request to understudy him. Rejection also happens when the prospect agrees to a meeting with the explicit intention of being unavailable, and then conspiring with his colleagues to report him absent as he hides in the kitchen. Rejection also happens when you are told that you cannot enjoy company benefits because you are in sales and therefore on contract. Rejection can also be from your spouse or siblings, questioning your judgment for choosing sales and even going into denial on your behalf (“Kageche is doing sales, but we’re still looking to get him a job” or “He couldn’t get a job so he went to sales”). You now begin to see why many would rather speak ill of the profession than admit to the real reason why they detest it.

But is rejection the problem really? I don’t think so. The fear of rejection is. But even that isn’t the real problem; it is the meaning we give to the rejection that is the problem. I’m not splitting hairs here; the two are as different as night is from day. When I interpret no to mean that it is I being rejected, then we have a problem. It is true that one of the ways prospects fend off salespeople is by abrasively saying no just to hurt them; it’s also true that the same prospect who said no to your life insurance policy will probably embrace you wholeheartedly when you tell him that you now sell loans. How then are you the problem? If however, you had given meaning to the rejection as, “something is wrong with me”, with your change in industry, you will have denied the same prospect a service he needs because you selfishly interpreted the no. There is truth in the advice that the salesperson separates himself from his product if he is to manage rejection. Just like the hawker does when you roll up your window at his approach-I imagine he takes this to mean, not today, and casually moves on to the next vehicle.

And when this happens, a whole new world opens. Ask seasoned salespeople. They will tell you of abrasive prospects turned clients who now hold them with respect for having successfully weathered the storms of rejections. And such is life, isn’t it? We all admire those who overcome adversity, with aplomb.

Another demonstration that it is the meaning we give to rejection that is the problem and not rejection nor the fear of it, is in this simple logic. Before asking the prospect to buy, you didn’t have the sale; now that he has rejected your product or request, you still don’t have the sale. You are precisely where you were before engaging him. You haven’t lost nor gained.  How then is that a problem? Unless of course, you give meaning to it as such?


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