I’ve completed a lot of interviews for my book Selling Fearlessly and a word that keeps reappearing in these interviews is “rejection,” or perhaps I should put it, “the fear of rejection.” How do you ward off rejection? I am repeatedly asked. Honestly, I despise that word—rejection. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t fit in with any salesperson’s vocabulary. So I’m going to provide you with Chapter 32 of my book, which is called Never Take it Personally.
Don’t Take It Personally
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” Michael Corleone in The Godfather
If you ask a non-salesperson why he says so plainly that he wouldn’t sell to earn his living, more than likely he’ll say something like, “I couldn’t deal with all that rejection.” To a non-salesperson, a prospect’s “no” is regarded as a severe personal repudiation, a direct attack on his fragile ego, humiliation. A master salesperson is likely to roll his eyes at such a remark. As I said in Chapter 19, “Cold Calling,” it’s only business; a master salesperson never feels personally rejected.
All about the Numbers
I never took “no” personally. I took accountability for it, but never personally, even when I detected a prospect didn’t like me or something I said. No basketball player makes every shot that they take, and no salesperson closes every prospect she approaches or presents to. Selling is a numbers game, a law-of-averages marathon. My father used to say, “You have to get the no’s out of the way, to get to the yes’s” That’s what a salesperson does. I celebrated victories and got over defeats as quickly as I could, usually in minutes, and then it was on to the next. Yogi Berra, famous for saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” just as effortlessly could have added, “but when it’s over, it’s over.”
It’s a free country; everyone has a right to say no. To take it personally, to hang on to it for dear life, to keep replaying it over and over and over again is to surrender your power to someone who isn’t even a customer. Why would you do that? What possible advantage can it bring you? If you go to your next presentation with that kind of additional baggage strangling your concentration, you’re allowing a “no” to do double damage to you and your selling career.
A salesperson must have skin as thick as a crocodile’s because prospects can be utterly insulting at times. It should go in one ear and out the other. You’re there to make a sale and that’s all that matters; respond to anything peripheral to that sanctified objective and you’re being self-destructive.
Never take it personally; it’s only business. When it’s over, it’s over. Move on.
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