Rejection Isn’t Real

The most universally hated part of pitching prospects is rejection.

I hate it too. Early in my sales career I would get so frustrated if a prospect shot me down.

I’d get off the call and my mind would race. What did I do wrong? Was it something I said? Oh why didn’t he get it?

It felt like I must have done something wrong.

A few years later I discovered that I was wrong, but not for the reasons I thought I was wrong.

I read two books that changed my outlook on sales. They were titled, “How to Sell More in Less Time With No Rejection” (volumes 1 and 2) and were written by sales trainer Art Sobczak. Packed in these books was a magic idea, a true game-changer. There is no such thing as rejection.

I know, it sounds too good to be true.

Except it is true.

Rejection is a frame of mind. What do I mean by rejection isn’t real? The painful kind of rejection doesn’t exist when you’re pitching clients! They’re not rejecting you, they’re saying “no” to your offer. If there’s one big idea you should get from this post, it’s that feeling rejection is all in your head.

Like I said, it’s not personal, and it’s not a reflection of you as a human being. The pain of rejection only exists if you create it.

Here’s what I mean.

Say you pitch someone your product. If the person says, “no”, tell me, is that rejection?

Yes, and no.

Yes, your offer was turned down. No, you should not feel bad about it.

What’s happening is you’re confusing personal rejection with having your offer turned down. These are two completely different things.

It’s normal to feel this way. For most of human history, getting rejected by the tribe meant you were going to die. You were doomed without the support of your community.

Does that sound anything like the kind of rejection you face pitching a client? Not really.

An easy way to think about it is that we feel bad when we mix up our definitions of rejection.

If we look “rejection” up in the dictionary, the most common definition is:

The dismissing of a proposal or an idea

If we go by this definition then we can safely say a client turning you down counts as rejection. But is this kind of rejection anything you should be fearful of?

Let’s take it one step further. How many things do you say “no” to every single day?

What you wear, what you eat, who you spend time with, what you work on… in each of these decisions you made a choice. You picked one thing.

And you rejected everything else.

Would you say that’s the kind of rejection you don’t like? I doubt it. That doesn’t sound like the rejection I feared, the kind of rejection that frustrated me. I would be perfectly happy with that kind of decision.

Getting turned down like this is a learning experience, not rejection. That’s why Art put “with NO Rejection” in his book’s title.

If you learn something every time you pitch a client, if you focus on understanding their business and why they would or would not buy, you’re not getting rejected. You got a “no” because it was either the wrong offer, or the wrong time, or someone else had a better offer. That’s how you learn something every time you pitch a client.

If that’s all rejection is… why do we have this fear of rejection in the first place?

Rejection has another common definition:

The spurning of another person’s affections

Or, to say it in plain English, GETTING SHOT DOWN.

That kind of rejection is rooted back when we couldn’t live if we were thrown out of the tribe. It feels awful.

Yet we still mix up these two different situations.

If getting rejected by a prospect is the rational kind of rejection – bad timing, wrong offer, nothing personal – then what can you do to shift your perspective from feeling like you’re getting shot down to accepting someone else’s decision?

The key is to focus on what’s being rejected – you, or the offer.

It’s so easy to attach what you do with yourself. I know I’ve done this a million times.

I forget to pick up my daughter’s favorite yogurt at the supermarket and think, “Jeez I’m an idiot!”

I’ll drive down the road and get every green light and think, “I got the magic touch!”

Those are powerful ideas for common events. By thinking them I’m programming myself to believe those ideas about myself, for better and worse.

Forgetting my daughter’s favorite yogurt is a minor mistake, one I can fix.

Getting a series of green lights is a stroke of luck, one that’s going to happen every so often.

These events have little to do with who I am and nothing to do with my self-worth. The same is true for you. Who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re capable of doing has so little to do with the things that happen every day. They’re a reflection of what we’re doing in the world, yes.

However, there’s no reason to label myself an idiot because I forgot to buy a basic dairy product.

You aren’t rejected by your prospect. What got rejected was your idea, your proposal, your terms. That thing got shot down, not you.

There’s no reason to feel like you got thrown out of the tribe.

I’m not saying you’re going to walk away happy, nor that you should. Of course not. Look at me. I’m competitive and I hate losing. There’s not much fun in putting hard work into an idea, a proposal, and a meaningful conversation, only to get a “no” at the end of it.

The reason I stick my neck out is because there’s no way to get a “yes” without being willing to hear “no”.

It’s much easier to stick my neck out knowing that “no” is feedback to my pitch and my proposal. It’s not personal. I can take that feedback and figure out how I can do better next time.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who aren’t in sales and it seems like there’s this myth that the perfect targeting with the perfect pitch means you’ll always get a “yes”, and that’s what you should aim to do.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The best offers I’ve ever seen in my life got a “yes” about 65% of the time. We’re talking about cherry picking who to talk to, who to pitch, and having a massive competitive advantage. Odds are that’s not you and your business.

It’s crucial to separate your offer from yourself. You’re going to get a lot more “no’s” than “yes’s” if you want to land clients and make an impact. It’s much harder to keep trying if you feel like you’re the one getting rejected every time.

Next time it happens? Take a deep breath and remember – you’re not getting rejected, they’re just saying “no” to your offer.