Managing Rejection in Sales
Post co-written with Amina Islam
“Nice, but no thanks.”
The reverberating sound of a slammed door.
As much as you try to tell yourself to stay positive, hearing a series of no’s one after the other when you’re trying to sell something can be disheartening at best and soul-crushing at worst. As mentioned in a previous post, it’s important to keep your attitude buoyant and your self-esteem high through your sales journey. So how best do you not fall into a pit of despair through a career in sales? What are some practical ways of doing that according to social science research as presented in Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human?
Use interrogative self-talk
Self-talk is the internal chatter that provides you with a running monologue throughout your day. It’s a well-known technique to pump yourself up every morning by standing in front of the mirror and saying positive affirmations such as, “You can do it!”
But research has shown that interrogative self-talk like asking yourself, “Can you do it?” happens to be more effective that declarative statements like, “You can do it!”
This is because asking yourself a question unlocks a part of your mind to answer it, thus providing you with ways on how the task could be carried out.
Tally up your No’s
Once you understand that every no gets you closer to a yes, you’ll find value in keeping track of the “no’s” you receive. Imagine you’re walking on a path, and every no is just taking you a step closer to your destination. Alternatively, use another reframing technique, where it becomes your goal to actually collect 20 no’s per day. That way, you can mentally fool yourself into getting excited about each no since it was your goal. But this does not mean that you should do things to sabotage your pitch intentionally. At the end of the day what you need to understand is you control your sales pitch but not the actual results of that pitch.
Hit the right ratio of positive to negative emotions every day
Studies have shown that people usually flourish when the positive to negative emotions hit a ratio of 3 to 1. So for every one negative incident, find — or orchestrate — 3 incidents that add positive emotions to your life. That means after every no, you might need to make an effort to connect with a friend who usually makes you laugh, or watch a funny Youtube video, or engage in an activity you’re passionate about. Other ideas to stay positive include keeping a gratitude list or going out for a jog as that would naturally flood your system with endorphins.
Rewrite the Story in Your Head
There’s a quote that says, “It doesn’t matter what happens to us. What matters most is how we react to what happens to us, and how we choose to internalize it.”
It’s always best to translate rejections as being temporary, specific, or external (Mental Framework 1) rather than permanent, pervasive or personal (Mental Framework 2).
Let’s say you’re a sales person who gave a pitch and the client not only passed but was rude in the process.
If you were to internalize it using Mental Framework 1, you’d say, “I really messed up my pitch (personal), I completely lost my skill for selling (permanent), and all clients are impossible to deal with (pervasive).”
However, a different interpretation of the same experience could be, “My presentation could have been better, but the real reason he passed was because he didn’t have the budget (external reason). Also, the client was rude because he was having a bad day (specific), and even though today was not a good today, tomorrow I’ll be better (temporary).”
Understand Your Why
It goes without saying that it’s important to sell something you really believe will cause a positive impact in the lives of your customers. Your enthusiasm about what you’re selling must be genuine and authentic for it to catch on. So understand why you’re selling what you’re selling.