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As a salesperson, rejection is unfortunately unavoidable. Even the very best sales representatives will experience rejection from customers throughout their careers. For instance, customers may have a very specific need that, regardless of how honed your sales skills are, your product or service just cannot meet. Or the customer might feel that the service they received isn’t up to par with what they expected, so they decide not to go through with a sale. The list of possible reasons that a salesperson can experience rejection is a long one, and not everything is within the sales representative’s control.

No matter the reason, rejection isn’t fun. Just as in all areas of life, it can hurt to have someone reject your pitch or idea. Even though the reason is likely to do with the product or the customer’s specific needs, rejection can often feel very personal. If you experience several rejections in a row, it can really have an impact on how you feel about your job.

According to Marketing Donut, almost all salespeople stop trying with a customer after being told “no” four times, but it takes 80% of customers being asked at least four times before they say “yes.” This doesn’t mean you should bother your customers until they finally give in; rather, it means that, in business, an initial rejection might not mean that the customer will never change their mind. Instead, it could mean that you need to change your approach or better identify how you can meet the customer’s specific needs to make that “no” a “yes.”

Similarly, Scripted reported that almost half of all salespeople give up after they’ve conducted one single follow-up call with a prospective customer. While some of these customers will be genuinely uninterested, this means that there are a lot of potential sales being left unfinished simply because the salesperson isn’t being strategically persistent.

Strategies to minimize rejection

We know that, in sales, an initial rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the customer will never make a purchase. In order to avoid missing out on potential sales, salespeople should:

  • Learn as much as they can about their customer’s needs and tailor their pitch to demonstrate how they meet those needs
  • Be respectful but persistent in following up with the customer
  • Find out what exactly it is the customer is rejecting: the timing, the price, the offer, the product, or the organization


Qualifying the prospect 

Additionally, there are two strategies that salespeople can use to effectively reduce the amount of rejection they’ll experience. First, it’s important to qualify the prospect. After all, you’re destined to experience rejection if the person that you’re speaking with simply isn’t qualified to approve a purchase.

Luckily, there are tactful, relaxed, and non-confrontational ways to learn who is involved in the prospect’s buying process. By doing this before you reach the decision-making stage, you’ll be able to better tailor your approach to ensure the pitch you’re making will be agreeable to the necessary people. In fact, it’s best to assume from the outset that there is someone else involved in the buying process. You can then leave it up to the prospect to confirm or correct you. This will help you avoid unintentionally awkward situations for all parties involved.

Either you buy or they buy

In a sales situation, someone will end up buying – either the prospect buys the product or service that you’re selling, or you buy the customer’s excuse for why they’re not going through with the purchase. If someone in the interaction is going to close the sale, do all you can to make sure that it’s you.


To avoid experiencing rejection by buying a customer’s excuses for not purchasing, ensure that you’re a strong and enthusiastic advocate of your company and product. The strength of your advocacy will have a noticeable impact on the customer’s likelihood to buy. Additionally, don’t just accept their objections at face value. As evidenced by market research, with respectful persistence, customers often change their minds. Using effective questioning techniques, find out what specifically is preventing the customer from buying and, wherever possible, adjust your approach to meet the customer’s needs more accurately, eliminating the effectiveness of those excuses.

To learn 23 additional simple tips to becoming an expert salesperson, contact a ServiceSkills representative today to request a free demo of the Basic Selling Skills series.


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