Sales trainers, sales managers, and numerous sales books tell you to never take it personally whenever you are rejected. After all, there are only so many people who need your product or service, and you must get the noes out of the way to get to the yeses.
Yet, “never take it personally” becomes a contradiction in term when you’re also told that people buy you.
If you want to know the real secret to what matters most in business, just look in the mirror. That’s right, it’s YOU.
So explain to me again how not to take that rejection so personally?
In my industry, our product offerings are not so different than our competitors, and we’ve found that if the competition sends in better reps, we lose, plain and simple. Tell me again how to not take that personally?
Taking it personally means getting emotionally involved. And when your emotions are involved, you’re more inclined to act. That’s because the same part of our brain that controls emotions also controls decision-making. It’s no coincidence that the root word for emotion is also where the words move and motivation come from.
Unless you take losing personally, you’ll be inclined to blame the prospect—he didn’t “get it,” he was too afraid to take a risk, he was a cheapskate who wouldn’t spend money on marketing, he let his business partner talk him out of it, or he was just one of the many “noes.” On the other hand, taking it personally means you’ll finally take action to improve your selling skills.
Even the best of sales people will face a high amount of rejection. But there are plenty of mistakes you can make that will turn off even the hottest prospect. If I’m doing a poor job because I’m either unprepared or unskilled, I need to take it personally when I’m rejected. Here’s a short list of how you can set yourself up for rejection in a sales call:
Unscripted Call Opening
Whether your initial contact is face-to-face or over the phone, you have about 35 seconds to convey why that overworked business owner should stop what he or she’s doing to talk with you about their marketing. Even if you’re the type that thinks fast on your feet, you’d better be able to get your point across without rambling on or interjecting too many ums and ahs.
Poor Body Language or Voice Intonation
According to various researchers, physical body language is thought to account for between 50 to 70 percent of all communication. Likewise, speak too fast or too high-pitched, and you’re less likely to be taken seriously.
Too Much or Too Little Eye Contact
Most of us realize that too little eye contact can make us appear secretive or lacking in confidence. But too much can be downright creepy—especially if you never blink. Just like talking vs. listening, striking the right balance between the two is an important communication skill.
No Sales Process
Every successful sales organization has a process in which to transition to the next logical step and bring the sale to a conclusion. Without a predefined sales process to follow, you’ll have no clear “next step” in mind, which means you’ve lost both control and the sale.
Not Asking for the Sale
In copy writing, this is known as a call-to-action. There’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want, and probably a hundred different way to do so. Here’s one suggestion:
“If you’re ready to move forward, the next step in the process is to discuss payment terms and draw up a contract. Does that work for you?”
The only thing worse than not asking for the sale is being so indirect that the other person isn’t sure what you’re asking: “I don’t know if that’s something you’re interested in or not …” Is that even a question?
If you’re guilty of any of these, I won’t sugar-coat it. You should “take it personally” when you’re rejected. It’s not what you’re selling that they’re saying no to—it’s YOU!
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.