It’s an unfortunate fact. If we’re in sales, we’re going to experience rejection. Many times. We can’t win a new account if we don’t take the risk of pitching it–which comes with the potential for losing. It’s part of the job!
Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier when people hang up on us during a cold call, yell at us for interrupting their day, or tell us we lost a huge deal after working on it for months. The truth is, rejection stinks.
The Psychological Impact
What makes it so awful? It has to do with our brains. For example, rejections that entail uncertainty about the future (such as potentially not meeting quota because of losing a large forecasted deal) can cause sales reps to experience anxiety and lower self-esteem. Plus, losses perceived to be unfair trigger anger.
But the psychological impact of hearing no actually goes deeper than that. It hurts.
A study from UCLA’s Dr. Naomi Eisenberger showed that the brain processes rejection along the same neurological pathways as when we have a physical injury. If you hear colleagues talking about the pain of losing a sale, they actually mean it.
So, what can you do instead of wallowing in rejection? I have a few ideas.
Coping Mechanisms for Rejection
As someone who has faced plenty of rejection over the years (and observed others getting rejected), I fully understand the psychological ups and downs that come with a career in sales. With my experience, I’ve accumulated a list of strategies that help cope with the pain of hearing no. I am not a licensed therapist. If the pain of rejection overwhelms you, seek out the support of a qualified professional.
Here are six ways to help mitigate the psychological impact of rejection in sales.
- Adjust your expectations
- Identify the reason for the loss
- Don’t take it personally
- Stay focused on the long-term relationship
- Concentrate on the next deal
- Adopt a positive mindset
There’s no way around it – if you’re in sales, you’re going to experience rejection. How you handle it will determine whether it tears you down or fuels even greater success in the future.
*excerpted from “Sales Essentials: The Tools You Need at Every Stage to Close More Deals and Crush Your Quota by Rana Salman, pp. 27-29 (McGraw Hill, June 2023)”
Rana Salman, M.B.A, PhD is a renowned expert in the sales industry who is transforming the performance of sales teams worldwide as the founder of Salman Consulting, LLC. She is also the author of “Sales Essentials: The Tools You Need at Every Stage to Close More Deals and Crush Your Quota“.