Rejection is Not an Issue!

While walking to work this week I listened to an author spend a tremendous amount of time discussing rejection and instead of being inspired, I ended up being annoyed.

The book is called The Millionaire Zone by Jennifer Openshaw and I’ve posted my full review on my LinkedIn Reading List. In brief, I can’t recommend this book, and the author’s attitude towards rejection – even the fact that she uses the word rejection – is a big part of the reason.

The word reject is defined as: 1) put aside or sent back as not to be used; 2) refuse to accept or believe; 3) fail to give due attention; 4) a thing or person rejected as unfit or below standard.

I can tell you with all honesty that, in my 25 years of introducing people to ideas, services and products, mostly on the phone, I have never been rejected.

I can also say with all honesty that no matter how many years you’ve been in sales or marketing, no matter how many times you’ve heard the word “no”, it’s likely you’ve never been rejected either.

Rejection is personal. Even the standard dictionary definitions contain that personal note. We can be rejected by friends and lovers and family members but when it comes to business, to talking with others about our product or service, if we are doing our jobs well, we will indeed hear the word “no” regularly, but we aren’t going to be rejected.

Early in my career I did take some of the many “no’s” I heard personally. But that all changed during a light-bulb moment in my late twenties when I was working with an advisor from what was then called the Federal Business Development Bank. “Mary Jane,” he said to me, “if you are selling 1 out of 10 people you are speaking to, you are doing really well.”

I was so naïve at that time I thought my success depended on my selling everyone. What crazy pressure I created in my life! From that moment on, I have embraced every “no” with as much joy as a “yes” because I understand that talking to people who don’t want my product or service is an essential part of how I find the people who do want it.

And those that aren’t interested aren’t saying “no” to me, they are saying “no” to the product or service. There is nothing personal in it at all.

Can it ever get personal and become rejection? Yes, when you don’t follow a few simple guidelines it is possible to place yourself on the path to rejection. Here’s what to avoid:

1)Do your research and make sure that you are discussing your product or service with the right target audience.For example, the salesperson who continues to call me about toner for a photocopier is setting himself up for rejection. I don’t own a photocopier. I don’t plan to own a photocopier. I am not and never will be his potential customer so when he keeps pushing his message at me irritation seeps in and my “no” does start to get personal.

2)Listen more than you talk. Your potential customers will tell you why they are saying “no”. If it turns out it is because there is absolutely no fit between what you are offering and their business, hear that, apologize and don’t call again.

3)Follow basic etiquette when introducing your product or service to others.Stay conscious of the fact that all of us, including your potential customers, are overwhelmed with things to do. Make sure your message is precise, that you don’t waste any of their time. Take responsibility for the follow up and continued conversations – don’t sulk at your desk because they haven’t returned your calls. When you set up a meeting, be punctual and be able to deliver your message in the agreed upon time. Your meeting should only be extended at the request of your potential customer, not because you are unprepared.

4)Accept all “no’s” with grace. Find out if there is a time in the future when your potential customer would like you to provide an update, thank them for their time and for meeting with you or reviewing your information.

These steps, and there are likely others, will guarantee that rejection isn’t something that happens to you in your business life. In fact, I’ll go one step further – successful business people don’t give rejection any weight at all. What do you think?

And one last thought:

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there — lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

Happy dialing everyone! TPL

Leave a comment

What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

Do you or your team want to improve your communication skills? Do you have a communication question or challenge you'd like to discuss? This quick-to-fill-out form is easy to use and you'll hear from Mary Jane very soon.