Fear and Rejection: Overcome Business Rejection

Beat the Fear Factor: 3 Ways to Overcome Business Rejection


When was your first or most impressive blow of rejection?

Was it being picked last for kickball? Denied by your crush for a date to prom? Not getting in to your first choice college? Or losing a job to a more qualified candidate?

Most of us have complicated and powerful associations with rejection that have lasting life long consequences. Embarrassment, shame, disappointment, desperation . . . the feelings tied to rejection are incredibly strong emotions that we aim to avoid at almost any costs. We associate FEAR with those feelings and naturally, fear rejection and avoid putting ourselves in situations where we could be rebuffed.

In business there are dozens of places we face rejection every day. Some small, some impersonal, some big and deeply individual. It’s natural to resist walking in to situations where we might be rejected but in business, but is your Fear of Rejection costing you too many opportunities?

How do you shrink the Fear Factor when it comes to Rejection?

Accept it, embrace it but go for it anyway. Knowing that you’re going to face “no” can make you avoid the situation or worse yet, project defeat. It’s going to suck and no one wants to feel the burn of walking away from an opportunity without a win but if you psych yourself out and don’t “take the shots” you’re absolutely guaranteeing you will not reach your goals. NBA Champion, Michael Jordan didn’t magically become a legend, he failed, blew it, fell down many times but didn’t let it deter him or stop him from {practicing more} and then taking the shot again.michael-jordan overcomes rejection and failure

Increase your odds. Feeling like we don’t have control over the outcome makes facing competition and potential denial really disheartening. Boost your chances of winning the business or opportunity by being better, being the best candidate or vendor:

Prepare more. Know more about the client. Know more about their problem. Know more about their market. Know the MOST about how and who makes the decisions and what “currency” is valuable to them. Double down on your preparation to be the business or sales pro that BEST understands the customers’ problems so that you offer the best solution – even if it’s not yours.

Earn the opportunity. Have you been shut out umpteen times from getting a meeting or appointment? Perhaps you’ve been rejected in business because you didn’t yet earn the right to ask for the business? Have you connected in a meaningful way with this person? Are you following their social media accounts for real time updates on their company? Are you participating in conversations online and online in places where they look for insights and information? Or, did you call them or {worse} email them and ask for an appointment out of the blue, without context or warming up the relationship? Earning the opportunity takes a bit of time and you’ll face less rejection or “silence” if you put more effort in to earning the opportunity to meet with the potential customer. Time, not price, TIME, is actually most buyers’ most precious commodity. You’ve got to demonstrate that you respect that first and foremost.

Learn from the “NO”. Don’t roll your eyes at this cheesiness. I was once in sales training and the instructor told us to “THANK our customers profusely for their No’s as they put us one more No closer to a YES”. That’s true, but that’s not the real reason I think they’re so important. You can gain incredible value from getting a “NO”. Get comfortable with asking “WHY” and “HOW”. Why did you choose another vendor or product? How can I improve my product/proposal/approach next time? You might even be surprised at how much respect asking follow up questions gives you and how willing buyers or customers are to give you feedback. Rather than wonder and continuing to poke blindly at more customers. Use those NO’s to give you insights into what to do better and how to prepare. You’ll increase your odds of converting the next customer when you’re armed with lessons learned.

Rejection Therapy. For some of you, even the thought of selling your product or promoting yourself makes your palms sweaty and has you looking for the exit. In these extreme situations, you may need to try a cognitive behavioral therapy approach such as “Rejection Therapy.” I came across this particular example when looking for an interactive exercise for a sales team that was expressing a great deal of angst over taking increased price schedules out to their existing customers. The idea is that you start doing the exact thing that scares you the most, but incrementally and consistently. You don’t build up an immunity to it exactly, but more like a tolerance. Think about putting yourself in a position to be rejected. Say, for instance, you ask your Grandma to join you for a week on a topless cruise around the Caribbean. Depending on your grandma, she might say yes, but she’ll most likely say no . . . and you might get cookies because she feels bad.

One entrepreneur, Jia Jiang, had a traumatic experience of rejection when he was 6 that left him with tremendous fear and anxiety at being rebuffed when he needed to ask for funding or investments. Jia decided to take control of his life and face his fears, 100 days in a row. He chronicles his journey in this Ted Talk as well as his book Rejection Proof. He asked a security guard to give him $100, he asked to use the PA System at Costco, he asked to deliver a weather report on the news . . . with a few surprises and many insights, Jia Jiang conquered his fear of rejection by accepting it happens and learning how to make the most of it.

Are you letting the fear of business rejection hold you back? What could you accomplish if you were less afraid of getting “NO” when you asked?

Whether it’s for your business, for your sales career, for a promotion or even for a date, rejection doesn’t have to be a crippling experience if you’re prepared, you earn the opportunities and you don’t admit defeat before you even ask!

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!




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Straightforward, practical and perhaps slightly cheeky, Shawn Karol Sandy's innate gift is helping people find new ways to solve old problems, unique ways to approach new problems and helping businesses re-invent themselves and their sales strategies. With Bold and Brave thought leadership and Clear Action Plans, her impact on business is Measurable and Meaningful and will lead your sales revolution to growth and revenue goals.

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