To be successful at sales, you need to be able to cope with rejection -- an even to turn it into a goad that creates more success. I was recently discussing this dynamic with bestselling author Art Mortell. He explained that rejection is essentially a subjective experience. Once you understand this, rejection loses is power over you, and your ability to sell.
According to Art, your experience of rejection depends entirely upon three qualitative, subjective measurements:
- Frequency. Everyone can deal with some rejection, but how much rejection can you experience before you start taking the negative feedback to heart? How many times can you contact a qualified prospect and get a negative response before you begin to take it personally? Increase your tolerance, and rejection loses its hold over your future performance.
- Emotional Involvement. How emotionally involved can you become with somebody before you feel that the other person might know you so well that criticism hurts? For example, you might be reluctant to close because you're afraid that your customer might feel "buyer's remorse" and stop liking you -- a form of rejection.
- Perceived Importance. As a sales rep, you're likely to feel most comfortable contacting people who are of a similar (or lower) social class or educational background. However, you might find yourself avoiding people whom you feel are more important than yourself, because their rejection of you might seem to carry more weight or authority.
- Frequency. To make yourself less vulnerable in this area, you must differentiate between valid and invalid rejection. If the rejection is based upon something valid (like your basic approach), then you blame your approach and then change it. If the rejection is invalid -- as when a prospect "dumps" frustration -- it has nothing to do with you, so you can easily ignore it.
- Emotional involvement. The cure for this subjective ailment is to believe in yourself and in your product. If you truly believe in both, then there is absolutely NO reason why you shouldn't want your true friends to be your customers. If it turns out that your friend doesn't want or need your offering, it's not a rejection of you, but of the product and firm. So it should have no power over you.
- Perceived importance. My mother always recommended imagining that you're talking to the bigwig while he's sitting on the toilet. That doesn't really help me, but I know what she's talking about. Look: most bigwigs are exceedingly average people who've stumbled into their success. Their opinion means nothing in the long run, so don't let it have any power over you.