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How to Handle Rejection in B2B Sales

How do I get my team better at handling rejection?” is a common question from prospective clients. The answer, of course, depends on what’s causing the rejection in the first place. There are three, root causes:

  1. Poor sales skills: You’ve somehow failed at the sales process.
  2. Unqualified prospects: And this is really related to #1.
  3. Inappropriate offering: Either because you’ve presented the wrong one, or you don’t have a good one to offer.

But -- regardless of the cause -- High IMPACT Salespeople have the same response to rejection. Here it is: Figure out what caused it, fix it (if they can), learn from it, and get back on the horse. When horseback riders are thrown from a horse, the first thing their instructor tells them to do is to hop back on. Why? Because the longer you wait to get back on, the harder it becomes. The same is true for salespeople. The first time a customer slams the proverbial door in your face ain’t fun (I still remember mine like it was yesterday). But the right thing to do is to get back at it. Rejection can sometimes sting. Especially for salespeople with egos. And it’s easy to cast blame somewhere other than yourself. Sometimes, that’s the right thing to do. However, before pointing fingers, check the mirror. What could you have done differently? Before I go on, allow me this aside: There are a lot of salespeople, managers, and sales trainers who say, “don’t take rejection personally because it’s not personal.” If you get one-on-one with many salespeople, they'll tell you something different. It may be “business,” but the sting of rejection still feels very personal. Salespeople are the faces of their companies and their products. That means that a valid rejection for a respectable “business” reason can still feel very insulting. But, don’t let that slap to the ego get in your way of growth. It’s smart to look at rejection as an opportunity to focus your attention on getting better. So, consider the three, root causes of rejection (poor sales skills, unqualified prospects, or inappropriate offerings) and determine which one is to blame. Then, decide whether it’s something you can fix. For example, overwhelming your prospects with too much information is something you can fix. How? Ask questions and keep your mouth shut. On the other hand, a price your prospect can’t pay is probably not something you can do anything about. The lesson here is to face your rejection head-on. Study it, learn from it, and implement whatever improvements you can. It’s far too common in the face of rejection to simply say, “That stupid prospect just didn’t know what was good for him. He’ll regret throwing me out.” That very well may be true, but -- if you open your eyes a little wider -- you can probably learn from them and avoid a similar fate next time. As a professional salesperson, you should take your professional growth very seriously. Use every opportunity you’re presented to grow. @JebBrooks