rejection in sales

Why You Need To Love Rejection in Sales

Rejection; rəˈjekSH(ə)n/ – Merriam Webster’s defines this noun as the act of not accepting, believing, or considering something. What Merriam doesn’t point out is that rejection is neither a negative or a positive act. Rejection just… is. 

If you are a sales professional you know very well that rejection will happen to you more times each week then it won’t. Rejection is sales; every single person who goes into sales knows that you will get rejected, whether it’s direct or passive by people not answering or responding, it will happen to you. Every. Damn. Day. Period.  

Where the problem lies with rejection in sales, is we have been taught to look at only how to combat how people reject our propositions. Where we have failed, is how to lead and teach sales people how to handle rejection on a personal level. When sales people are equipped with the proper tools to combat rejection internally; the external barriers become mole hills instead of mountains. 

Pipeline Killer or Pipeline Fuel?


Rejection is a pipeline killer for many reps. A study conducted by Velocify, 50% of prospects never get a second call, yet it takes an average of six calls to win the sale. Read that one more time; one half of all the people cold calling stop reaching out to a lead after one call. This type of stat is amazing if your relationship with rejection is a positive one, because you know that half your competition is already giving up before the process even started. 

So why is it that when we get rejected, our feelings get hurt? You know those feelings that come up like anger, disappointment, sadness, embarrassment, shame and anxiety, just to name a few.

If you’re a sales person reading this right now, it comes down to the question of how do you want your relationship to be with rejection? Do you want to be the quitters who stop after a bit of rejection, or do you want to be the other half? At the end of the day, it will always come back to your choice.

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real 

Where the real problem lies, is in the fear of rejection; the limitations that we can create around picking up the phone, asking for the business, combating an objection, door knocking, or just approaching someone you don’t know.  

Rejection not only gives us those feelings when a prospect tells us “we’ve decided to go with another vendor” or “stop calling me, we’re not interested,” but it also gives us negative feelings long before we get rejected. It’s the anticipation of rejection that paralyzes people before they even put themselves in a position to potentially get rejected!  

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you’re far from alone. But the good news, it doesn’t have to be this way. The truth is, the way any of us handle rejection is a choice, and it comes down to how developed our sales EQ (emotional intelligence) is. 

Sales EQ 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, identify, and control our emotions and the ones of the people around us, ie – our prospects and clients. Sales EQ is all about empathy, relationships, and the ability to influence the thoughts and behaviors of others.

Emotional intelligence is the most important thing a salesperson can develop, but it’s also the hardest thing a salesperson can develop. Developing your sales EQ isn’t about learning what to say when a prospect answers the phone or how to craft the perfect email. Sales EQ is about developing your presence; knowing how other people’s actions affect your emotions, your behaviors and vice-versa; understanding what motivates you inside; and learning how to align your work with your purpose and values. 

Emotional intelligence can help you see rejection in a whole new light.

Reprogram Your Thinking – FLIP THE SCRIPT

Remember this: Rejection is an action, and that action is only negative because YOU give it meaning. Now you may be thinking, “but rejection sucks!” Well, yes, but you have to be able to see the opportunities in rejection.

So where do you start? Developing sales EQ starts with reprogramming our thoughts and re-evaluating how we deal with emotions. A simple way to start this change is by remembering these three words: FLIP. THE. SCRIPT. 

What do I mean by flipping the script? Flipping the script requires self-awareness of your emotions. When rejection slaps you across the face, rather than making excuses; which will suck the energy out of you and create a lack of trust and accountability; have the  emotional self-awareness that will enable you to look at that rejection as a way for you to learn, grow, and become a better salesperson and leader within your team.

If you look at rejection as an opportunity, what changes? Well, you can look back with clarity and honesty and see what caused your prospect to say “no”. And how can you learn from that “no” instead of making excuses and blaming everything in your path. Take ownership and look at how you could have done things differently in that particular situation.

Rejected? GOOD!

Sales can lead to great professional and personal growth and development. As salespeople, we are faced with resistance every day, and like pushing through resistance at the gym, pushing through resistance in our lives is what causes us to grow. If you want to develop your sales EQ and your sales skills, you can hire a coach, take courses, listen to podcasts, attend conferences, read books, or watch videos. 

But, whatever you do, work on yourself consistently. Take ownership of your circumstances, and flip the script when those negative emotions rise to the surface. Instead of reaching for that ready excuse the next time you’re rejected, take a page out of Jocko Willink’s book and say “GOOD”. 

Chris Reid

Chris Reid

Co-Founder, H2H Coaching