Rejection - Why it is the #1 Enemy in Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:04 AM

rejectionFor a change, rather than contributing to all the noise about inbound replacing outbound, inside replacing outside, insights replacing sales steps, buyers' process replacing sales process, let's talk about something that has a huge, relevant impact on selling, regardless of how the opportunity came to be.

Most of the sales bloggers don't touch on rejection, but when it does comes up, it's usually in the context of fear, as in fear of rejection.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures something a bit different: difficulty recovering from rejection.  Fear is real, but it's more telling to understand whether a salesperson jumps right back on the phone, is completely stable for the next meeting, or requires 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 weeks to fully recover.  When viewed as fear, we can assume that a salesperson will avoid scenarios where rejection is possible, but fear makes all salespeople with that weakness identical.  Looking at recovery, instead of fear, allows us to see the difference between short and long recovery periods.

In the past 6 years, rejection has become an even more impactful weakness than it already was.  Today, prospects are much less inclined to take a salesperson's call, return a voicemail or an email message, engage in a conversation, schedule a call or meeting, share important information, return calls to salespeople toward the end of the sales process or make a decision.  That's an awful lot of misery for a salesperson who finds it difficult to recover from rejection!

But rejection isn't that well understood by salespeople, their sales managers or even their sales VP's.  Do you know which of your salespeople have this problem and how severe it is?  Do you know which activities, questions and steps they are unable to execute as a result of their rejection weakness?  Do you know when their rejection problems will get in the way?

Rejection is relative.  The greater the risk, the more likely it is that an individual will avoid the possibility of rejection.  My longtime readers are familiar with our son, who stars in this great series of 32 articles called Salespeople are Like Children.  It's my favorite series, and I've been adding to it since the inception of this blog in 2005 when he was 3.

He is relentless, fearless and passionate about anything he wants from us.  Nothing will stop him.  Ever.  What if Mom and Dad say "No"?  No problem.  I'll ask again.  Another way.  I'll beg.  I'll threaten.  I'll cry.  I'll use logic.  I'll use emotion.  I'll keep at it.  

However, raise the stakes, and everything changes.

When it comes to a certain boy showing interest for the first time in a certain girl, it took weeks for him to gather the courage to ask the question even with the aid of today's technology where he could text the question instead of actually getting on the phone or asking face-to-face.  

What if she says "No"? 

Even worse.  What if she doesn't respond?

In my opinion, not knowing is even worse than the finality of a "no" and that's why salespeople are finding it very difficult to cope with unresponsive prospects and prospects who go into hiding after expressing a desire to do business.

Further relating this example to sales, the stakes go up for some salespeople relative to:

  • the title of the decision maker or contact,
  • the revenue of the prospect company,
  • the name brand of the company,
  • the size of the opportunity,
  • the existence of resistance, 
  • the size of the carrot being dangled, and
  • the increasing likelihood of a sale.

Sales training will not make rejection-related weaknesses disappear.  With most training, the salespeople are given new words to use, but still have the weakness.  As a result, they fail to use their new words, continuing to do what's comfortable, rather than what's most effective.  Even though effective sales coaching can help, you must first know who is susceptible, how severe it is, how often it occurs and exactly when it will get in the way.

A sales force evaluation provides the answers to those questions.

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales evaluation, sales testing, sales assessments, fear of rejection

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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