4 Ways To Handle Rejection In Business

Successful entrepreneurs don’t get discouraged by rejection. Here are four ways to turn rejection to your advantage.
August 01, 2011

I’ve lost track of how many times I've been asked to describe the traits of a successful entrepreneur. There are some that are more obvious than others, and we all know you should have a plan and be persistent. Having a positive attitude helps doesn't hurt either.

Mastering those, for some, is the easy part. The behavior that’s harder for many of us to conquer is learning to deal with rejection. As business owners, we face rejection in many ways. Whether we’re trying to get financing, land a new client or negotiate a deal with a potential partner, it’s inevitable that we’ll hear “no” at least some—if not most—of the time.

But successful entrepreneurs don’t let rejection get them down. Instead, they learn from it and use it to grow their businesses. Here are four ways to turn rejection to your advantage.

Do the math

If you take every rejection personally, you’ll struggle to grow your business. Try taking the personal out of the rejection equation. One technique many salespeople use: Track how many contacts, cold calls or sales calls you have to make before you get to “yes.” It is possible to quantify the average number of attempts it takes to get a sale. If you do this, you can look at every “no” as one step closer to that “yes.” Instead of getting defeated by rejection, you’ll grow to see it as just one step on the path to your ultimate goal.

Ask questions and listen to the answers

When a prospect doesn’t buy or a potential partner doesn’t follow through with the deal, ask them their reason for saying no—and listen carefully to their answer. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although that may be the ultimate outcome) but simply to learn. Urge them to be completely honest—and don’t get defensive. Simply listen to their reasons, ask more questions if you need to, and then thank them for their honesty. Their reasons for saying no may surprise you.

Assess the problem

Once you know why the other person rejected your offer, you can evaluate whether the problem lies with your business, or whether this particular relationship simply isn’t a good fit. For example, do you regularly hear from prospects that your prices are too high or is it just this particular person who feels that way? If the reason for rejection lies with the other party, and not with your offer, it may be best to just move on to your next prospect.

Make changes when warranted

If you’ve heard the same “complaint” from several prospects or if your efforts to form strategic partnerships with other businesses are regularly rejected due to concerns about your business’s ability to deliver, it’s time to make some changes. Smart entrepreneurs don’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Adjust your approach as needed. If you keep fine-tuning your approach, you’ll likely find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”

Rejection will never disappear from your business life. And, given the lessons it can teach, you shouldn’t want it to. Facing rejection doesn’t make you a failure—but failing to learn from it just might.

Image credit: Photos.com