When you work in sales, rejection is unavoidable. No matter how many hours you’ve spent perfecting your sales hook, or how solid your pitch is, there will be times when you just cannot make the sale.
The reality is, this will happen more often than not. So, how do you handle this constant sales rejection? And in the face of this sales rejection, how do you manage to stay motivated?
Staying motivated is one of the most important things you can learn in sales. Yes, the latest markets trends, technologies, and sales techniques are very important, but they won’t mean a thing if your confidence takes a hit after every “No.”
The fear of rejection is a powerful emotion that can easily send people spiraling—especially if they’ve been dismissed 20 times within a half hour period. When it comes to sales, too much rejection can cause you to lose enjoyment in your work. Once that happens, it’s easy to begin dreading the workday.
Those in sales confront rejection more often than most. The best thing you can do is find ways to turn it into a more positive experience and avoid taking it personally. If you’ve ever struggled to stay motivated in the face of sales rejection, below are some great suggestions to help get you do just that.
Is It Rejection? Or Do You Need to Follow-Up?
You would be surprised at how often sales opportunities are missed due to a lack of follow through. According to Sales Hacker, in 2017 Hubspot reported that, 44% of salespeople give up after one rejected pitch. However, Sales Hacker also reports that 80% of sales are made after five follow-up interactions, and 20% of prospective clients will wait 12 months after requesting information about a company before they buy.
The takeaway? Don’t expect a sale to happen on the first pitch, and following up is important.
When it feels like your pitch fell flat, finding the motivation follow-up with the prospective client isn’t always easy. If they weren’t interested the first time, why would they be interested now? Remembering that four follow-up interactions before a sale is actually common, makes picking up the phone much easier.
So, why might a prospective client wait so long before saying yes? Usually, it has nothing to do with you. The difference between a soft “no” and a hard “no” is often something as simple as bad timing, or perhaps a desire for more information at a later date. Being able to tell whether or not you’ve received a hard “no”, or a “no-for-now” will allow you to spend your time following up on prospective clients that are truly interested.
It’s important to use that information to set your follow-up cadence. Using tools with email automation can help move that process along and make sure that you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks.
Photo Credit: Sales Hacker
It’s important to think long-term, and not just focus on short-term setbacks. Short-term goals are important, but if they’re the only way you measure success, you’ll find yourself experiencing highs and lows of emotion with every successful sale or rejection. In any case, this isn’t a great indication of how you’re doing overall. You could be having a terrible sales month, but a great quarter. So, don’t let a poor sales week or month discourage you. You could feel dejected in your work, but the numbers may not reflect this.
When it comes to thinking long-term, this doesn’t just apply to sales. By setting long-term goals that go beyond business objectives, and into your everyday life, it will be easier to lift your focus from a single concern, to the bigger picture. Maybe it’s your children’s college education? Or a new home? Or a dream vacation? Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be entirely dependent upon any one sale. So, if a pitch falls flat, you can rest easy knowing that realistically, it hasn’t impacted your long-term goals.
If you only focus on one thing at a time—like a sales pitch—if that goes poorly, everything will feel like it’s going poorly. By setting long-term goals that go beyond business objectives, and not putting too much hope into any one pitch, you will be able to stay motivated throughout what may feel like a bad sales rut. It’s easier to stay motivated if you know you’re working towards something worthwhile.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
Surrounding yourself with the right people doesn’t always mean networking. Sometimes, it’s just about surrounding yourself with positive people, and with people who will make you feel better after what you may view as a sales rejection.
We’ve all had those coworkers who just don’t want to be there. They don’t like their jobs, and they never miss out on the chance to complain. Surrounding yourself with this negativity will exacerbate your own negative feelings, making it almost impossible to stay motivated about work. If no one around you can find it in themselves to be positive about their work, why should you?
Finding the right friend group at work can make a big difference. If you spend your time with motivated, successful colleagues, you’re likely to become just as motivated. If they love their job and view each day with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to do so, as well. Overall, it’s a healthier way to live.
Becoming friends with another salesperson has the added benefit of a sympathetic ear. Another salesperson understands sales rejection because, like you, they’ve been rejected many times before. When you’re on your own as a salesperson, it’s easy to feel like you’re a failure. This is why it’s so important to connect with your coworkers. Instead of all of this negative self-blaming, by speaking to someone who has been through this before, you’ll realize that every salesperson gets rejected—over, and over, and over again. It’s normal.
Photo Credit: Agile CRM
Know Your Conversion Rate
Not every pitch will result in a sale, but the more you pitch, the more likely you are to make a sale. The average percentage of pitches that become sales is your conversion rate. Knowing this means knowing just how often you’re likely to be rejected, and how likely you are to make a sale.
Rejection is inevitable in sales, no matter how good you are. What you should know is how much rejection you should expect. According to Rhys Metler in his article, “How to Handle Rejection in Sales”, knowing this may actually cushion the blow of sales rejection. In the article, Rhys says to, “Estimate on average how many times you’ll close a deal compared to how many times you’ll try to make the sale. If you know that you will, on average, hear no 30 times before hearing yes, you might not take the rejection so personally—you’ll take it in stride, as part of the business.”
According to Sales Hacker, it’s not just enough to know your own conversion rate, but your industry’s average, as well. If you feel like you’re hearing a lot of “no’s”, this could be normal for the product or service you’re selling. You can’t be critical of yourself if you don’t know how you measure up to others selling the same product or service.
Get into a Routine
If you let sales rejection chip away at your confidence, it’s easy to start putting off what used to be simple tasks just so you don’t have to hear the word “no” again. Maybe you start making those follow-up calls and emails a little later. Soon you’ll stop making them all-together. Considering how many follow-ups turn into sales down to road, this is a big mistake.
When you begin to procrastinate on these small—yet important—tasks, it’s time to create a routine. In his article, Rhys Metler suggests keeping yourself productive with a strict routine, such as making calls every day from 10 am to 12 pm. No matter how much you dread the calls, you still have to make them.
In “Seven Rules for Coping with Sales Rejection”, Mark Carlson, owner of T. Charles Wilson Insurance Service, couldn’t even look at his phone without getting anxious. However, by making phone calls every day for half an hour at 9 am, Carlson has felt some of that anxiety disappear.
"You can make about twenty phone calls in half an hour," Carlson says. "The more people you reach out to, the more people you are going to find who have an interest in your product."
Photo Credit: Rocket Builders
Do Not Take It Personally
The worst thing you can do is take sales rejection personally, as it very rarely is. More often than not, the product was simply bad fit for the prospective client. Perhaps they couldn’t afford the product, or maybe there was a timing issue and they’ve already bought a similar product. Some factors are simply out of your control.
The danger is in letting this affect you. Even if you receive frequent sales rejection, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad at sales, or that they are rejecting you. In fact, sometimes sales rejection can be a good thing.
If the deal was a bad fit, it’s best that you know now. You may have just been saved from having to work with a client that didn’t really need or want the product. Now you’ll have the time and energy to sell to someone who will be more receptive.
Turn It into a Learning Opportunity
Once you hear the word “no”, it’s hard to focus on anything else the ex-prospective client is saying. What’s the point, right? The sale is dead.
Many salespeople don’t realize that this is a great opportunity. Why not ask why they said “no”?
At worst, it was something you said. At best, it had nothing to do with you—maybe it was a budgeting problem, or maybe they just bought a similar product. Even if it was you, this is your chance to find out what errors you may make during a pitch, and change the way you do things. This will give you the chance to grow as a salesperson, and drastically improve your performance.
According to Grant Cardone, in his article, “How to Make the Most of a Sales Rejection”, you should phrase the question specifically: “What is it about my proposal you are saying no to?” Not only will you still learn from the rejection, but the sale may still be made if the potential client objected to only part of the offer.
If there’s anything to be learned from this article, it’s that it doesn’t hurt to try and make the sale one last time. If you get turned down, it’s never the end of the world.