How to Handle Rejection in Sales

Emma Fulcher
Emma Fulcher
In Business, Engagement, Incentives, Inspiration, Objectives
Emma Fulcher is the Social Media Manager and Content Writer at Xactly. She attended San Jose State University where she received her degree in English.

Hearing “no,” can hurt. It can dampen your spirits, and hinder your confidence. It’s the quickest route to second guessing yourself. The truth is, it’s unavoidable! Rejection is inevitable when you work in sales. While there’s no magic potion that can shield you from being told “no” ever, there are tools you can use when you’re faced with handling a rejection at work.

Here are 11 ways to handle rejection when you work in sales:

Expect rejection and know your sales ratio

It’s impossible for a rep to always land a deal, and accepting that idea early on will set you up for success, even when you come face to face with a rejection. You’ve heard the saying, how many no’s will it take to finally get a yes? Estimating how many rejections you can expect can help immunize yourself to rejection. After all, what’s the worst to happen if someone says no? You simply move on until you find a yes.

Set long-term, personal goals that fit into your business objectives

You’ll find it’s hard to linger on a rejection when your sights are fixed on a bigger goal. To stay encouraged, consider creating larger goals to aspire towards. Some examples could be a vacation you’ve always hoped to take, or finally taking out a lease on the car you’ve been eyeing. That way, you’re incentivized to keep working hard, and find a yes – even amidst adversity.

Don’t take it personally

It’s an old adage, but it remains true: failure can teach you things that success can’t. Instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, give yourself a break, and look for the learning opportunity in the situation. Maybe your pitch was too long, maybe your delivery wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Identify what areas went “wrong” and work to adjust. Sales teams at Xactly turn to Inspire to learn the experience of their peers when a deal is made, or lost. The Harvard Business Review notes that videos and applications noticeably improve the comprehension and retention. When sales reps can look at the details of a win or a loss collaboratively with their peers, they’re more likely to remember what worked for next time.

Set a routine

I’m particularly partial to this tip. I love a set routine. Can you relate? I find sticking to a routine (eating well, drinking water, making the bed, doing laundry on Sunday mornings) keeps me zen, productive, and overall feeling positive. The same idea can be said for your routine at work. Set short-term goals during your day that are within reach given your schedule and overall objectives. For example, aim to make 15 calls in 45 minutes, then giving yourself a short brain-break to take a walk around the office. Then repeat. It’s more than likely some of those 15 calls will be flat out rejections – no worries! Wrap up the call gracefully, and move on. Having smaller goals that you can devote adequate time for can keep you motivated, and crushing your goals.

Build relationships

Rejection hurts, plain and simple. It’s easy to let your emotions get in the way when faced with a big, fat no. Resist the urge to retaliate or become closed off from your contact. It’s important to keep in mind that your prospect is doing what is best for their team and their organization, just like you are! Feel encouraged to follow through and see why they’re resistant to move forward with you, but don’t drive yourself crazy trying to solve their problems. A contact who may not be interested today, could be interested tomorrow, if their conditions change. Even if the deal is a loss, investing in relationships is always a win.

Network with others in your shoes

When you’re going through a rough time, sometimes to feel better, all it takes is picking up the phone and talking it out with a friend. Relating over your shared experience in sales can help you feel part of something bigger – that you’re not the only person going through similar motions in your job! Talking with your peers helps to normalize the rejection that you may face from time to time.

Recognize your progress – big or small

There’s no better feeling than crossing something off your to-do list. As you go about your day, the more tasks you get done, the more productive you feel. Regardless of how successful your sales day may be, make a point to walk through your accomplishments, no matter how small they are. Progress is progress – so give yourself credit!

Prepare and deliver a good response to rejection

Sometimes the possibility of rejection can be more stressful than the actual rejection. Regardless of how direct or indirect a rejection may be, preparing a thoughtful, friendly response will serve you well. Keeping a what-if scenario ready to go in your back pocket will give you the confidence you need.

Be emotionally distant

While it’s important to be invested in your prospects (and their success), getting too emotionally involved puts you in a vulnerable position. Focus on one prospect at a time, and remember that at any moment, they hold the power to move away from the relationship. Not getting to emotional will help when it comes to being rejected.

Remember there’s opportunity in timing

Timing is everything! Sales is no exception. Sometimes the prospect has no control over the decision to follow through with your proposal or not. Create an ideal customer profile, and then start moving through your list. Just because it’s not a right fit for one prospect, doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for another.

Always be mission-minded

To end, remember that rejection is inevitable. It’s just a part of the sales process. That being said, the possibility of rejection should consume you. Practice keeping the goals of your organization, of your department, and your closer team at the front of your mind. When you have a larger goal guiding you, you won’t have time to sweat the small stuff.

Now that you’ve bounced back from rejection, take on objections with The Sales Rebuttal Formula for Objection Handling & Creating Sales Scripts



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