A major cause of failure of sales people is said to be the fear of rejection. Fear of rejection can disable you from making cold calls, handling objections, closing deals, and from getting up in the morning.

It is legend in sales that selling starts with the word “no” or starts with an objection, which is sales vernacular for a reason not to buy. Objections are really requests for information. It is the sales rep’s job to help the buyer understand the product better. Objections help the sales rep move the sales process along; thus, no can be an “enabling sales technology”. Yet, the word no can be disabling for many.

Buyers will automatically say no even when they mean yes. Ever walk into a shoe store and have a sales rep ask, “Do you need any help?” Invariably, we say, “No.” Then we turn to the shoe rack and pick out a shoe and then ask the same sales rep for help. Shoe sales people learn that this cat and mouse game is all part of the sales ritual. It all starts with no.

While not of all us are cut out for sales, fear of rejection can be overcome by a simple technique called systematic desensitization. Oddly enough, the more you do something the easier it becomes, while conversely the less you do something the harder it becomes. The single best way to confront our fear of rejection is to do what scares us the most. In the shoe sales person’s case, he or she confronts the fear by continually asking the question, “May I help you?” The sales rep becomes desensitized to the rejection through repetition.

Another example is the fear of public speaking; some studies have shown the fear of public speaking to be greater for some people than the fear of death. They avoid speaking publicly at all costs. Yet, the best way to beat the fear of public speaking may be by speaking publicly. Toastmasters International, the world renowned public speaking training organization, advocates making speeches weekly to conquer this fear. They believe that only with repetition can this fear be truly beaten.

Here are few tips on confronting the fear of rejection:

– Look for no. Keep a record of how many times you hear no in a day. Try to beat yesterday’s tally. Track weekly.
– Visualize your customer saying no, but tell yourself it means they have questions.
– Let the customer know that no is an acceptable answer, since you are interested in a long term relationship with them. Watch or hear them exhale with relief. The pressure is off. Ask them to tell you about their concerns.
– Remember that in selling it is not about you. Rather, it is all about the customer; focus your thoughts on them and their needs. The commissions will come later.

So for the sales rep with fear of rejection, the best way to beat it is to pick up the phone or knock on the door. Then, go do it again. And, again.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
Please visit my website at www.firstbestordifferent.com

About the author
  1. Great article on fear of rejection. I actually found you first on EzineArticles.com, and was reading this. I just published one on their site about the fear of success.

    Another good way I’ve heard to break through the fear of rejection is to give yourself a small reward for each thing you do right. They might just be counting paperclips, or moving pennies from Pile A to Pile B, but by the end of a call, you may have 20 things you did right, even if you got a “No” in the end. At least you can be proud of what you did correctly.

  2. Loved your article. We call this the “go for no” strategy – it really is the ultimate strategy to fail your way to success. We say if you get enough Nos the Yeses will eventually be there.

  3. I think it just a matter of re-programming how you react to the word “no”.

    No can mean let’s talk more about what’s most important to the buyer. It means stop and let’s discuss it.


  4. I really enjoyed this article. I have been thinking of getting into sales for a period of time after graduation to get a taste of that side of business, and this is good mental preparation for that.

    How do you know when No really means No? Aren’t there times when your product really isn’t a good fit for the customer? Or they just can’t (or won’t) purchase? Do you always assume that no means yes until you decide for yourself?

  5. Daniel,

    Yes, sometimes “no” means that your product does not fit the customer’s needs; in this case, no helps you understand your product’s capabilities, which is good thing.

    Other times, no means that the customer is not qualified to buy; this is also good because sales people don’t have time to waste.

    No may mean many things and all versions of no are helpful.


Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formSubmit

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.