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Responding to Rejections in Sales

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When I was a teenager, I made quite a bit of extra money selling Christmas cards. After I hit up my relatives, I contacted my parents’ friends and the parents of my friends to see if I could sell Christmas cards to them. When those prospects were exhausted, I went door-to-door pulling my albums in an old American Flyer wagon.  Each time I rang the doorbell I was hopeful I'd find a great prospect that would look over my albums and place in order. However, this was not always the case. I developed a habit of thinking that my next doorbell would be more productive. After each “no,” I resolved to keep going until I found a receptive prospect that would place an order.

As I became older, I began to experience more no’s from potential customers. Some days I would become so discouraged that I just wanted go home.  However, I learned a different and better response.

First, I understood that sales are partly a numbers game. The more sales calls I made, the more likely I was to make sales. In the Christmas card business I learned that out of every seven or eight houses, I would find a customer. If I quit after the first few negative responses, I'd go home empty. However, by continuing to knock on doors; sooner or later I'd bring home an order every afternoon after school.

Second, we may be able to learn valuable information from a “no.” For example, in my Christmas card business, when I was told in mid-October that they had already purchased cards for the season; I made a note to return to them the next August. The more we are able to understand why the customer said “no,” the better adjustments we can make in the future.

Third, we may just catch people on the wrong day. I have an involvement in a damage restoration business and take time to visit insurance agents to promote the restoration business. I may go in three or four times when they don't take time to talk to me because they are busy. Then, the next time I visit; I may show up on the right day when they say, “Steve, have a seat; tell me more.” This is where persistence is important.

Fourth, we may need follow-up. We can send sales literature or leave business cards and wait for the customer to call us and place an order. However, most of us know it takes 6 to 10 customer connects to get business. 

Recently I wanted to use an answering service to avoid missed customer calls. For a number of reasons I delayed signing up which placed my decision on the back burner. One answering machine company followed up with me multiple times by phone and email to solicit my business.  Eventually, they won my business by their persistence.

Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV) Every person in sales has felt exactly the way Paul described.  It is important not to let rejection defeat you.  Instead, always move forward.  The next sale is always ahead of you, not behind.

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