There's a time and place for just saying "no."

But truth be told, it hurts like hell when you're on the receiving end of a rejection — and it stings even more if it affects your income.

Yet as every experienced salesperson knows, when you earn second place, "you get nothing … nada … the big goose egg … and it’s possible that once that client is locked up with your competing vendor, they may never relinquish that relationship and that relationship may never come up for bid again."

Learning Opportunities

The Myth of Finishing First

So say Tim Brown and Dan Streeter, co-authors of Old School with New Tools: The Extra 5% That Takes You to the Top of Your Sales Game and Keeps You There.
But the dream of always finishing first is a myth. Even if you have a relatively high closing ratio of 20 percent to 30 percent, this means that you are being told “no” about 70 percent to 80 percent of the time, they point out.

How can you handle this inevitable rejection? Consider these six tips:

  1. Understand that “no” is only feedback: The only one who is placing a label on this event is you.
  2. Stop with the labels: Once a rejection occurs, it’s easy to move the label from the event to ourselves by saying:  “I suck…I am a terrible sales person." Don't.
  3. Learn from the experience: Most sales people make the same mistakes over and over again because they never ask themselves or their customers what they could have done differently. 
  4. Embrace being No. 2: We once visited a coffee roaster who said, “Our Company likes being No. 2. We know that our competitor’s best clients are just one mistake away from calling us.” Never burn a bridge. Keep in contact (but avoid the “just checking-in call”). Network and act as a resource broker (see below).
  5. Be a resource broker: Want the fastest way to become No. 1?  Send your prospect “a trickle” of contacts that they need to know either personally or professionally.  Almost guaranteed no one else is doing this.
  6. Make friends with your competitors: This may go against every dog-eat-dog, business-world, spidey-sense you have, but remember, your competitors are just like you. At times, they are overwhelmed. Not all customers fit their business models. They need the help of outside expertise. And who knows? They may even be in need of a sub-contractor from time to time — and they are only going to call you if they know, like and trust you.

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