Business psychology

Business skills: Managing rejection

- March 11, 2006 2 MIN READ

We all get turned down from time to time, but while managing rejection can be hard, each time it occurs we have the opportunity improve our business skills and learn more about our ourselves.

So you’ve invested hours in uncovering and understanding your client’s needs, you get on well and the relationship seems solid. You’ve poured your heart and soul into a sensational proposal, waited for a while, rung and left a message [silence] then waited some more [silence] and then after some consternation you call only to find out that your valued prospect has gone with someone else [*&%$#!!].

So whether or not Malcolm Fraser was right when he explained that “life wasn’t meant to be easy”, rejection is something everyone must learn to deal with.

As soloists, we need to develop strategies to cope with rejection. Here are some business skills showing you how you can swap livid, loathing and languishing into living, learning and moving on.

Become “emotionally intelligent”

Daniel Goleman popularised this concept in his books on Emotional Intelligence (very worthwhile reading) and now “EI” is often heard in management conversations. At its very simplest, emotional intelligence is acknowledging and managing emotions in yourself and others. Usually, rejection hurts and we need to work with these often painful emotions to get past them. You can do this by allowing the emotion to flow, as it was designed to do. Try:

  • Naming the emotion and talking about it
  • Giving yourself permission to feel the emotion
  • Understand why you are feeling this way by questioning what the rejection means to you (e.g. I needed the money and so now I can’t afford or I’m not good enough or what will other people think about me…and so on)
  • Choosing constructive behaviours when you feel this way

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Ask for feedback

Too often we accept a situation where we don’t know all the information because we don’t feel comfortable asking for feedback. Feedback is the food of champions – without good quality, consistent feedback success is almost impossible.

Call the prospect and ask them whether you could get some feedback on why they went with another supplier and not you. Feedback underpins continuous improvement, learning and growth. And besides, the very act of having the guts to call the client and ask for feedback shows you have a client focus and can strengthen your relationship for next time…yes, next time.

Do something different

If you want to win the job next time, take everything you know PLUS the learnings from the feedback and make your next proposal irresistible. Learn by reading a book on winning proposals, search the Internet, get a coach or mentor, work with another soloist, get suggestions from friends or go crazy and think out side the box.

I challenge you to come up with 5 things you can do differently to improve your sales process.

If Winston Churchill defined success as “the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” I wonder what he would have termed going from failure to success with no loss of enthusiasm? A successful soloist?