Salespeople face rejection daily. And handling it appropriately is a critical sales lesson. Here are two, very different tales about handling rejection:
The Wrong Way to Handle Rejection
Just like any business, we are regularly approached by people looking for jobs. And, because we believe managers should always be on the lookout for talent, if we come across a resume that catches our attention, we'll dig deeper. We are, after all, in the business of helping sales-driven organizations identify, select, and develop top salespeople! Anyway, a few weeks ago, we arranged a quick phone call with a gentleman who had reached out to us about a job as a facilitator of our sales training programs. I sat in on the call. It began badly (he was late) and proceeded poorly (put simply, he just wasn't a fit for our clients). We told him we'd be in touch. We discussed it internally to make sure we were all "on the same page" and determined that, based on the phone call, it didn't make sense for us to proceed with him. So, we sent him an e-mail letting him know we didn't think he'd be a fit and, as a result, we didn't need to move forward.
He responded to us...
You are a coward. Why didn't you tell me this man-to-man . . .
Yes. He is correct. We could have called him, but sending an e-mail is a fairly standard practice. Regardless of the mode we chose, his response was rude, short-sighted, and unprofessional. It did nothing more than solidify in our minds that we'd made the right decision. Why would we ever put a facilitator who handles rejection like that in front of our clients? That's Story-of-Rejection number one...Here's number two...
The Right Way to Handle Rejection
Several months ago, we were in the very early stages of a full-scale sales training program with a client that offers B2B consulting services. Just before our project began, one of their salespeople was in a fierce battle for a significant piece of business. Unfortunately, she lost. Fair and square. You can't win every deal. The salesperson responded in the way we teach: Professionally. She said she understood why they decided to go another route, but hoped she could remain in touch. Her message was gracious and understanding. In short, it was the right way to handle rejection. A few months passed and -- seemingly out-of-the-blue -- the decision-maker who'd rejected her, suddenly downloaded a whitepaper from her company's website (I could write volumes about how her company's marketing and sales departments employed Sales 2.0 technology to make that happen, but I'll save it for another post). She immediately sent an e-mail to "check in" and say "thanks for downloading" the whitepaper. Here's what she got back (I eliminated the competitor's name)...
I'm ready to move forward with you, after all. [XXXX] didn't work out. I've got a budget in mind of $15k - $20k. I know your stuff works. Let's talk about a December roll-out. Please call me tomorrow in the morning.
Nice!!! The moral of the stories? Always, always, always behave in a professional manner. Here's why: As a direct result of the way our client's salesperson handled rejection, she earned the business in the long-run. On the other hand, the candidate we interviewed doesn't stand a chance with us. @JebBrooks