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No Surrender

Learning to see "no" as valuable feedback can take your sales efforts to the next level.

No matter what you sell, you will inevitably face obstacles, rejections and refusals. You would think you might get used to this reality over time. But unfortunately, no matter how many times we hear it, a "no" is often a tough thing to take. It weakens our confidence level and hinders our ability to make sales.

Over the years, I've had as many rejections as anyone else-if not more. Here are three ways I've learned to cope with this fact of sales life:

1. It's only their opinion. When someone tells us no or says that what we are attempting can't be done, we tend to think they're right, that it's not going to work. What I've learned is to look at that no as just one person's opinion. It's not good or bad; it's just data coming in. I can look at it, analyze it and make my next move even smarter. When a prospect says no, he or she is giving you valuable feedback that can help you find a new approach. In fact, naysayers are actually telling you what to do differently-their rejection might encourage you to learn more about the prospect's company or product, for instance. Don't let a no undermine your confidence, your belief in the value of your product or idea, or your ability to go out and sell. A no simply provides you with valuable information you can use for future reference.

2. Don't get defensive. It's OK to get angry when you get rejected. What's not OK is to make excuses or try to persuade the other person that he or she is wrong and that you are right. Use your anger to get you going-let that no create a sense of urgency to find a better way.

According to John Eliot, Ph.D., author of Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance, and professor of business and psychology at Rice University in Houston, "The hormone testosterone, which promotes positive feelings of confidence, is released at three specific times: 30 minutes after we fall asleep, after exhaustive exercise, and when we are tackling a tough problem." Take action to prove that the other person is wrong. Instead of getting depressed when you get rejected, take up the challenge, and vow to find a way to solve the problem and demonstrate that you were in the right all along.

3. Let history be your guide. If people are laughing at you or your idea, ask yourself why that might be. Is your idea just ahead of its time? Or is it because you haven't expressed your concept well enough or demonstrated to prospects how they're going to benefit in the long term? Understand that it takes time for every new idea to gain acceptance. When Alexander Graham Bell said he had found a way for people living thousands of miles apart to communicate, other people scoffed and said it couldn't be done. The rest, as they say, is history. Examples like this one teach you that other people who have been laughed at and told no again and again have managed not only to achieve their goals, but also to surpass them.

In the past, hearing no from a prospect would have sent me into a tailspin. Now, I try to embrace rejection. I take the information that comes with that no and see what I can learn from it. Doing so lets me come out stronger every time.

Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

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This article was originally published in the January 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Surrender.

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