Rejection: Does Selling Cause More Anxiety Than Dating?

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


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

The Other Rejection - How Salespeople Struggle to Cope

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 09, 2012 @ 13:05 PM


My colleague, Frank Belzer, just posted a terrific, thought-provoking article on Rejection.  Please read that first for the rest of my article to have the proper context.

Five years ago, Passive Rejection wouldn't have been an article topic because back then, it was rare to not get your repeated calls returned.  By contrast, today it's unusual when a prospect returns one of your first 5 voicemail messages!

Let's take a deeper look into Passive Rejection.  Frank mentioned a former colleague who handled Active Rejection just fine but didn't handle Passive Rejection in an acceptable way.  If Passive Rejection is akin to being ignored, then what is it about being ignored that causes the problem?

After reading Frank's article, I gave this some thought and identified the following 10 reactions to Passive Rejection:

  1. Fear - What if I never reach this person?
  2. Anger - How rude!
  3. Abandonment - They don't want me in their life...
  4. Hurt - How could they do this to me?
  5. No Respect - If they respected me, they would call me.
  6. Distrust - They haven't returned my calls, so I don't trust them.
  7. Approval - They don't love me!
  8. Self-Importance - I don't have time for this!
  9. Self-Image - I'm not very happy with myself right now.
  10. Revenge - They haven't returned my calls, so I won't call them.  Hmmph.
As you can see, the other rejection, Passive Rejection, is simply another trigger for salespeople to become emotionally involved, a hidden weakness which I touched on in yesterday's article about chain reactions.  So, when a salesperson experiences Passive Rejection, the severity of emotional involvement increases, as each of these reactions kick-in, until the salesperson has effectively been neutralized.  Emotional Paralysis would be an appropriate phrase to describe what happens at this point, where the salesperson is no longer able to function in the sales role until they have finally recovered.  OMG's long-standing finding of Difficulty Recovering from Rejection would come into play here.  Do you have salespeople who don't seem to have enough conversations and new meetings each day?  Do they claim to be doing the work?  Could they be suffering from Passive Rejection?
As it becomes more and more difficult to reach prospects whose priorities make it impossible to be reached, Passive Rejection and the resulting Emotional Involvement play larger roles among the many weaknesses that interfere with a salesperson's ability to perform.
Photo Credit - Fever Pitch on PhotoDune

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, frank belzer, sales rejection, sales emotions, objective management group

Content not found
Subscribe via Email

View All 1,850 Articles

About Dave

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 nine 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

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile


Receive new articles via email
 to the Blog on your Kindle 



Most Recent Articles


Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee




Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers


Hubspot Top 25 Blogs



Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader