Overcome Your Fear Of Rejection (written September, 2010)


Most people hate hearing the word “no.” From something as simple as asking for your favorite dish at a restaurant and being told they no longer serve it to asking your boss for a raise and being turned down, we never like to hear the word “no.” So who would want to work in a profession in which you would be told no practically every day?

Salespeople face the possibility of rejection on a daily basis. After all not everyone needs the products they are selling, nor can everyone afford them, so prospects and customers say “no” to salespeople regularly. While salespeople do know they will be told “no,” their reaction to this rejection is the key to their success and happiness both at their jobs and throughout their lives.

Rejection can cause doubt, a sense of failure, and stress – all negative feelings most people want to avoid. As a salesperson, you must realize that people are not rejecting you as a person. They are simply rejecting what you are selling. So don’t let rejection negatively affect your emotions or attitude. If you do the negative emotions can get you stuck in a vicious cycle of rejection, where the more negative you are, the more people reject you which causes even more negative emotions and more rejection.

Because rejection happens every day in the sales profession, you cannot go into work fearing it. This would affect your confidence, your performance and ultimately the company’s success. The key to remember when you don’t get the sale is that the person is not rejecting you. Therefore do not take it personally or become upset by it. Also do not take rejection as sign of failure. For any “no” you hear on a given day, you will likely have other sales to make up for it.

Remember that you are there to offer a service or product that may meet your customers’ or prospects’ needs. So you must discover what these needs are before you attempt the sale. If you have gathered all of the information and you still can’t go for the sale because you fear rejection, then use the following tips to overcome your fear.

Think of sales as a selection process rather than a rejection process. The customer will select the parts of the product or service you’re offering that they need. They may need all or part of it, and they may need it now or later. You are there as an educator. A good salesperson will find out how to meet the customers’ needs and show benefits rather than the features of buying the product or service. If you cannot meet your customers’ needs, then always recommend someone who can. Such gestures are often reciprocated.

Ask a lot of questions. Evaluate your prospects to find out who they are. By asking a lot of questions and understanding who you are selling to, you will have a better idea of how to approach them with your pitch. As you ask questions, be sure to ask open ended questions rather than “yes” or “no” ones. The more you can get the prospect talking about him or herself, the more information you’ll gain to close the sale.

Evaluate your marketplace and go where the fertile ground is. Follow what the marketplace tells you and go with what has worked in the past. If you know you’re targeting the appropriate market for your product or service and that it has worked in the past, you reduce your odds of rejection. If however, you still hear a lot of “no” responses, then you need to refocus where and whom you’re targeting. Try a different tactic. You want to reduce your odds of rejection in any way you can so you are less likely to face it.

Look and feel your best.  We all experience more happiness and productivity when we look and feel our best. So look in the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself how great you are. If you don’t reject yourself, nobody else can reject you.

Get help when needed. If these practical strategies to help you overcome your fear of rejection don’t work, you may need to dig a little deeper. Search internally to find out where your fear of rejection comes from. Go back to your childhood. Maybe the kids at recess didn’t pick you for their team in kickball or perhaps you were bullied or maybe you didn’t feel loved. Write these things down and remember that they are old and are not pertinent to this situation. Once you are able to get yourself out of the way and think of this case as a separate thing, you will realize that the fear of rejection that was imprinted on you as a child does not and should not affect your performance in the sales profession today. If necessary have a trained professional guide you through this process.

Rejection-Proof Yourself. When you no longer fear rejection, you are better able to focus on your job of selling. You will discover more opportunities for working on your technique or pitch and you’ll have more confidence in your abilities as a salesperson and in yourself as a person. Additionally when you realize that customers tell salespeople “no” for a variety of reasons and none of them usually have to do with you, you’ll have no reason to fear rejection. You will realize that rejection is part of the sales profession and you will become more motivated to increase your sales, thereby boosting the company’s bottom line (and your own).

By following the strategies to overcome your fear of rejection, you will become more confident on the job and in life because fear will no longer hold you back. You will bring a more positive attitude to your workplace, and you will enjoy your job because you will feel less doubt and stress. You will no longer feel like you failed if you don’t get the sale because you now realize that you won’t always get every sale. And the best part is that you no longer fear rejection. You are a stronger person because you face and deal with rejection every day and you don’t take it personally. Every company would benefit from having more salespeople like you.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.