Let’s face it—most salespeople today are living in a constant state of fear around rejection.
Whether they admit it or not, the majority of salespeople are constantly worried that they’re going to inadvertently do something to turn prospects off or even make them angry.
As a result, many salespeople are paralyzed by fear of rejection in sales. In reality, though, there’s actually very little to be afraid of.
Remember, your prospects can’t actually hurt you. Your fear is all in your head.
The very worst they can do is simply walk away and leave you to focus on better, more qualified leads. That’s not so scary, is it?
Never Fear Rejection in Sales Tip #1: They can’t physically hurt you.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to fearing rejection in sales is that your prospects can’t actually hurt you physically. They can’t hit you. They can’t attack you. Most of the time, they’re just a voice on the phone (or words in an email, or a face on a video call). And even if you’re face-to-face with prospects, they aren’t going to physically hurt you because they don’t like what you have to say.
So why do so many salespeople have such intense fear of making their prospects angry or upset?
While it’s natural to genuinely feel stress around the idea of having someone dislike you, there’s never any risk of physical harm when selling. You’re not in a football or rugby game where you can actually get physically hurt if you do something wrong.
In the game of sales, the risk is only that you’ll make a prospect a little cranky, and they’ll hang up on you. Maybe they’ll tell you that they’re annoyed before they do so. But otherwise, the risks are very, very low.
Always keep in mind that your prospects can’t actually hurt you. They only have as much power to hurt you as you give them in your head. Every time you pick up the phone, make that video call, or knock on that door to start a new sales conversation, remember: They can’t physically hurt you.
Tip #2: Understand the evolutionary meaning of rejection.
Thousands of years ago, when humans were living as tribes in caves, if you left your tribe and approached a new one, it usually didn’t go well. You would probably die.
Strangers were most likely going to kill you on sight…because that’s how tribalism worked, and how tribes protected themselves and stayed alive. Once you stepped into an unknown tribe’s territory, you were an automatic enemy and the interaction was going to end in rejection—the permanent kind.
As a result, we humans still have deep-rooted evolutionary programming that causes us to do everything in our power to avoid rejection today.
Thousands of years ago, rejection meant death. But now, in today’s world, the consequences of rejection don’t align with our evolutionary fear. In other words, even though being rejected by a stranger no longer puts us in mortal peril, our evolutionary programming hasn’t changed to catch up to the realities of modern-day humanity.
And so, we live in fear of crossing lines, upsetting others, and saying the wrong thing. Our fear is intense, because it’s rooted in our evolutionary imperative to survive. But sales is not a fight to the death. We’re no longer in fear for our lives when we make someone feel cranky.
It’s critical that you understand this evolutionary meaning of rejection, so you can keep your fear of rejection in sales in perspective when you start to worry constantly about ticking off your prospects. No one is going to kill you for trespassing if you make an unsolicited phone call. All they can possibly do is hang up on you and make you feel a little embarrassed. So what?
Tip #3: Know the math on “no’s” in sales.
To effectively overcome your fear of rejection in sales, it’s key that you actually know the math on the “no’s” that you’re likely to receive when selling. Let’s say you’re making cold dials to prospects. A strong cold dialer has a ratio of somewhere between 100–150 dials to one closed appointment. That’s a lot of unsuccessful dials. That’s a lot of “no’s” to get to one “yes”—and that’s perfectly normal.
Once you know your ratio of dials to closed appointments, every time you hear a “no” you know just how much closer you are to eventually hearing a “yes.” While it can be unpleasant to get so much rejection on the road to your eventual reward of a closed appointment, knowing the math is what keeps you going and enables you to map out your success with a real process for selling.
If you’re using the right script, the right approach, and the right sales process, then hearing “no” is just a part of your selling system. It’s no big deal.
And by the way, most “no’s” sound like: “This isn’t a good time” or “Can you try back later?” Prospects are usually nice about how they go about “rejecting” salespeople. So it doesn’t always have to feel that unpleasant in the moment either.
If your fear of rejection in sales is more based around hearing “no” after having taken the prospect through your sales process, then you should know the math around those “no’s” too. Let’s say that you figure out that you end up closing 25% of all the discovery calls you complete with a prospect. Now you know that when you hear a “no” at the end of a discovery call, you’re that much closer to hearing a “yes.”
Simply knowing this math can work wonders at calming your nerves and helping you see the bigger picture when dealing with the inevitable rejection that comes with strong selling systems. Remember that hearing “no” is all just part of the successful process. And as a result, you can stop being afraid of rejection in sales—and even learn to embrace it.
Tip #4: Know your “why.”
Why do you sell? Understanding why you’re a salesperson in the first place is crucial to ending your fear of rejection in sales. You could be working in a million other industries or job categories besides sales. You could be in operations, finance, or customer service, but you’re not. You’re in sales. And sales can be tough sometimes.
That’s why understanding your “why” is so important. Chances are that you’re in sales because it’s a path for you to make a lot more money than you could in other jobs.
Consider the typical difference between a customer service rep and a salesperson. Customer service reps make half to a quarter of what a top-performing salesperson makes. While this might seem like reason enough to go into sales rather than customer service, it has to be about more than just the dollar figure. Why are you actually in sales as opposed to customer service? What’s driving you to be here right now, today?
Again, the answer to these questions is rarely about the dollar amount, but rather about where that money is going to go and why. Is it for your family? Is it so you can achieve some kind of status? Is it for your own career development? Education? Sending your kids to college? What actually drives you to pick up the phone every single day and make dials to sell? That’s your “why” and you should be crystal-clear about what it is.
Knowing your “why” is imperative because sales can be frustrating. There are days where things just don’t go the way you want. Understanding why you’re doing it is one of the most foundational pillars of overcoming your fear of rejection in sales. If you know why you’re there, and why you need to succeed, your fear will have less power and your drive will keep you going through adversity. Know you “why”—and remember that Some Will, Some Won’t, So What? Next.
Never Fear Rejection in Sales Tip #5: Celebrate big rejections.
This might seem counter-intuitive. But if you’ve been selling for long enough, then you know what it’s like to get a really big rejection in sales: the prospect gets angry, they blow up, they hang up the phone in anger, or they just get really cranky and frustrated with you. I’m encouraging you to celebrate these scenarios. That’s what we do in my own organization. When a prospect gives one of us a big rejection, we chat about it in our Slack group and in our sales meetings.
We don’t hide big rejections from each other at my organization; rather, we celebrate them by giving all the details and making light of the situation. Why? Because celebrating big rejections helps to normalize rejection in sales, while reinforcing the idea that getting rejected is all part of the game. It’s no big deal. In fact, it can be a great source of learning, improvement, and even laughter and good-natured fun among our colleagues. When we celebrate those moments of rejection, we suddenly realize, “You know what, it’s not that bad.”
When you celebrate rejection in sales, you take away the power of that rejection to hurt you. You have two options when you get a big rejection. You can either get really upset and pouty, and want to quit your job, or you can just laugh it off, tell your friends about it, and move on to the next. That’s what celebrating big rejections is all about.
So, there you have it. Now you know 5 ways to never fear rejection in sales. Which of these tips did you find most useful for dealing with rejection in sales? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section to join the conversation.