Rejection: Does Selling Cause More Anxiety Than Dating?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

rejection2

Do you remember dating?  Back in the day, when you couldn't hide behind a text or an email, the three most common questions that teenagers would ask their friends were, "What if she says 'no'?", "What if he doesn't call?" and "What if she doesn't call back?"  

When those teenagers entered sales, I can assure you that no prospect ever wondered, "What if he doesn't call?"  But some salespeople did continue to remain anxious over, "What if he/she says 'no'?" and "What if he/she doesn't call back?"  That was classic fear of rejection.  While fear of rejection remained a big part of selling, and prevented some salespeople from making calls, the bigger problem was with the actual recovery from rejection.  Fear was only problematic for some, and only at the top of the funnel - when making cold calls.  Recovery from rejection affects a much larger part of the sales population and occurs later in the sales process.  Sure, a prospect on the receiving end of a cold call could hang up or say, "Not interested" in rejecting the caller.  But a "No" can just as easily occur much later, well after a salesperson has become emotionally invested in an opportunity.  The later the "No", the greater the rejection.  Rejection is as big a part of selling as closing, but we celebrate after closing and mourn after rejection.  The real problem for those affected by rejection is the amount of time it takes to mourn the loss and recover.  Some salespeople don't return to normal for days and weeks after being rejected!  Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics show that 72% of all salespeople have difficulty recovering from rejection!

Our baseball playing 12-year old son has been on both ends of the celebrate/mourn outcome in the past three years.  In 2012, his 9-year-old and under (9U) All-Star team lost in the semi-finals and he cried for 2 days.  Last year, his 10U team won the championship and he celebrated for a night.  This year, his 11U team lost in the championship game and he was sad for a couple of hours.  Two lessons emerge from this.  The celebrating never lasts as long as the mourning; and the mourning time decreases with repetition.

Today, the abundance of technology and its place in selling has allowed fear of rejection to become much like it was in the golden days of dating.  Salespeople now wonder to themselves, "Will they reply to my email?"  Will they text me back?"  "Will they accept my LinkedIn invitation?"  "Will anyone retweet my tweet?"  "Will they like me on Facebook?"   

Let's call it Neorejection.  

Less control, more wondering.  To some, it's paralyzing.  Depressing.  I read somewhere that the more time people spend on Facebook (and I assume it would be the same for businesspeople on LinkedIn), the more depressed they become as they try to keep up, measure up and feed their follower-deprived egos.

Technology has certainly provided us with the capability to reach many more people in much less time than in the days when cold-calling was our only option.  But, technology giveth and technology taketh away.  The more emails, texts, InMails, Invites, tweets and messages, the greater the opportunities for neorejection to have a negative impact.

If I was one to be bothered by this, and I'm not, last week would have been a good example.  I use Tout to get a single email to many people. Tout allows me to organize email templates and groups.  For example, my application of Tout has the following groups:

  • Everyone I Know
  • Active clients
  • Inactive clients
  • OMG Partners
  • Strategic Partners
  • Friends
  • License Subscribers
  • Quarterly Winners
  • Employees
  • Webinar Attendees
  • Blog Subscribers
  • Weekly Update Group
  • Potential Clients
  • Baseball Update Group

I sent an email to one of those groups and then, an hour later, when I reviewed the live feed to see who had opened, read, and clicked through to the link, it was obvious to me that my email message must have sucked.  

That's the difference.  A salesperson who is prone to neorejection would have been upset that people didn't get back to her.  I blamed myself for failing to write a more engaging note.

It's difficult to get salespeople who suffer from fear of rejection, neorejection, or recovering from rejection, to overcome it.  Sales Managers can provide affirmations, send salespeople to therapy, partner them up with someone else, or replace them.  I have an easier solution.  It's called SalesMind, a CD that uses self-hypnosis to overcome 10 of the biggest selling challenges around.  Email me if you would like to get a copy.

Image Copyright: stuartphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales rejection, overcoming rejection, salesmind, fear of rejection, Tout

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

Sales Courage and Resilience

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:01 AM

courageWe went to the movie, We Bought a Zoo and while it wasn't the comedy we expected it to be, it did have this: 20 seconds of courage.  Several times during the film, it was necessary for one of the characters to possess 20 seconds of courage; for Benjamin to meet the woman he would marry, for Dylan to knock on Ellie's window, for Benjamin to confront the escaped grizzly bear, and for MacCready to hold off the lion while in its cage.

Terry recommended that I read Unbroken - A World War II Story of Survival, Resiliance and Redemption.  It was a tremendous book and I leaned so much that I never knew about that war.  But more captivating was the story about Louie Zamperini and his courage and resilience.  He could have resigned himself to his fate countless times in his life and during the war but always had something to keep him going, to make it through one more day, one more hour and one more minute.  He, and his family back home, never gave up.  Even when it was completely hopeless, when he was on death's doorstep, when the Military announced his death, there was faith that somehow, some way, he would survive and things would be OK.

Hope isn't enough, but faith and courage are.  If salespeople can apply the 20 seconds of courage rule to every challenging or scary situation they encounter, and simply do what they are afraid of, good things will happen.  When things go wrong - and they surely will - if they can have the faith to hang in there for one more minute, one more hour or one more day, knowing that if they do everything in their power (with their fate in their control) rather than relying on hope, they will achieve the desired outcome.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, fear of rejection, we bought a zoo, unbroken

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six 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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