Embrace Rejection in Sales: 5 Ways to Use “No” to Grow

Embrace Rejection in Sales: 5 Ways to Use “No” to Grow

Rejection is part of the job in sales. That is the absolute truth. 90% of the time you’ll get a “no.”

What people need to realize is that success and failure are on the same exact road. They’re not that different from one another.

When you hear a no, that doesn’t mean that you have failed.

When a door is closed for you, that doesn’t mean it has closed forever.

In fact, if reps aren’t experiencing rejection, they’re not prospecting enough. They are simply not moving outside of their comfort zone.

As sales leaders, it’s our responsibility to help our salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and build confidence in their ability to succeed despite it.

Teach your team to quit fearing the “no”

Your sellers should anticipate rejection — it’s part of the game. But that doesn’t mean they should create an open door for it.

Here are 5 ways to teach your team to handle rejections, objections, and losses, and come back up swinging.

1. Practice objection-handling

Prepare your sellers in advance on how to handle objections before they are even stated.

They should know their customers better than they know themselves and be doing a rock-solid discovery.

So, if the prospect casually mentions they are using a competitive technology, you don’t bash. You focus on the gaps in the competitor’s offering and where your product solves those challenges.

Teach salespeople to treat a prospect’s “no” as information rather than rejection, and to follow up with a strong discovery question based on that information.

This teaches them to see the silver lining of each response they receive.

2. Perform post-mortems on lost deals

For the same reason, do a post-mortem for every lost sale. Uncover the real reason behind each rejection. There will be valuable information to help your team improve.

Remind them, it’s okay to lose, but it is not okay to lose the same way twice.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  • “Was the timing off?”
  • “Did a competitor come in with a better value proposition?”
  • “Did the salesperson truly fully understand the prospect’s problems?”

Related: Tired of Rejection? Make Sure Your Offer is JUICY

It’s possible your sellers may not have the answers to these questions. In that case, have them go talk to the lost opportunity.

This helps your salespeople gain a deeper understanding of what happened and why.

It also gives them the feedback they need to learn and improve for the next sales opportunity that walks through the door.

3. Use data to grow

“No” is a data point — and data makes us better.

It is important for you as a leader to coach to the specific challenges your reps are having. Encourage your team to be introspective about why they’re receiving rejections — but don’t just rely on introspection.

Related: Gathering the Right Win/Loss Data to Guide Your Team Through the Toughest Storms

When you ask your team to be introspective about why they’re receiving rejections, you need to back that up with data. Drilling down will show you that each person faces rejection in just about the same spot. Focus on fixing that one area.

Rejection is a part of the sales process, but it doesn’t have to be a roadblock. Use the data to fix the root cause of the issue at hand.

4. Focus on what’s next

You have to take a lick and keep on ticking. Overcome rejection by focusing your attention on the next opportunity. You feel the pain more when your pipeline is soft.

Related: Causes of Sales Pipeline Stagnation & How to Restore Flow

A key strategy I instill when I coach managers is to have the team plant as many seeds as possible. Depending on your growth strategy that can be going deep into one account or really wide across an industry.

Truth #1: Salespeople who generate a lot of activity have very little time to mourn over one piece of business that is lost.

Truth #2: Salespeople who have lots of action in their pipeline are less likely to be depressed by each instance of rejection.

Your team can mourn their losses, but need to quickly focus their attention on the next opportunity. The next win.

Related: Overcoming Sales Rejection: How To Turn Failure Into Opportunity Every Single Time

One of my many sayings is, “Even if you hear no, keep going. Your job is to find the right prospects, not to succeed in closing the wrong ones.”

5. Celebrate and reward wins

Every win big or small deserves some type of celebration. Finding ways to celebrate the successes of team members will help reaffirm their positive mindset.

To stop negative self-talk in its tracks, make your salespeople keep a list of the successes they’ve achieved to remind themselves of the good things so they can refer back to them when a string of rejection gets them down.

Related: Coach Your Way to Sales Leadership Success: Best Practices from the Field

As their leader, you should be intentional about praising each of your reps. The more they are familiar with the feeling of the positive reinforcement of getting to a “yes,” the more motivated they’ll be to continuously strive for another one.

If you walk away from this article with nothing else, realize it’s your responsibility to support the team and help them see that their world doesn’t end when they first large or small rejections, and they become stronger and better each time.

Edited by Kendra Fortmeyer @ Sales Hacker 2023

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