Dealing with Rejection

Getting rejected after pitching a business to investors or prospective clients, especially a company you've created yourself, can be a demoralizing experience. The truth is rejection is part of the business and often has a lot to teach us. Here are some ways that you can stay positive and move forward toward success.

Countless books, articles, interviews, and workshops have attempted to capture the magic bullet of sales. However, do not overlook the natural-born salesperson in each individual.

Think about it; you’ve been selling since childhood: lemonade, Girl Scout Cookies, Booster Club Fundraisers.

The more critical teenage mall shopping social agenda items require more keen selling skills.

In other words, sales are not a foreign concept. Sales, in reality, are natural and should be approached accordingly.

You’ve graduated from Girl Scout Cookies to Bakeries or business ideas that need financial support to become a reality.

Being the visionary of a new business idea does not necessarily make you the perfect salesperson for it.

Tenured sales professionals often doubt their selling skills. At times a bit over critical, but observant, tenured sales professionals know when they’ve “missed the mark” or “bumbled about” or failed.

Nearly 27-percent of successful sales professionals do not believe they have mastered even the fundamentals.


One of the most unrated traits in sales is humility. Humility translates to empathy in a sales situation.

Confidence is a necessity, but arrogance an abhorrence.

Humility couples the genuine nature of the adolescent salesperson with the professional salesperson.

Humility makes the sales professional relatable and likable. People listen and purchase from those they like, not those they despise.

As wonderful as humility is in the sales profession, rejection remains the most significant fear of sales professionals.

Seasoned professionals cringe at the thought of being rejected by a client. Pitches often go unheard because the pitch maker has “clammed up” and refuses to meet the client.

The fear of rejection is powerful, and the emotions felt when it could be crushing.

However, rejection does not have to be crippling.


Rejection is an honest schoolteacher. Improvement and strength come from testing, and rejection is the test result needed to cultivate success.

Refusal exposes the fault or vulnerability in your idea. It gets you ready for the next opportunity, which may very well be with the same person again.

A sales professional should not avoid the possibility of rejection but embrace it.

It is not easy for most. Regardless, rejection is a part of the process. It is the speed bump in the parking lot to prevent an unnecessary incident.

It is a four-way stop causing you to evaluate all perspectives before proceeding.


So, how do you grapple with rejection? How do you handle the fear associated with it? Below are some tactics that will help you address rejection and the fear that accompanies it.

There is especially fear of rejection in sales. When dealing with anxiety, perspective is vital. It’s essential to understand the science of rejection to see how necessary it is.

If not, emotional turmoil will ensue, and chaos descends.

Therefore, what’s the source of the fear, and what is the basis of it? In the sales environment, rejection is one of the most common challenges.

It cripples the most seasoned sales professionals. The idea of being rejected hinders excellent ideas and products from reaching those who most need them.

The sales professional must put rejection in its proper place. To categorize rejection appropriately, the sales professional must obtain focus by asking themselves the following questions:

  • What if they say no?
  • What if they laugh at me to scorn?
  • What if they make a fool of me?
  • What if they ask me questions, I am unable to answer?
  • Is this client in my target market?
  • What is my target market?
  • How can I best help/support this client?
  • What makes my product/service more ideal for this client?
  • Where is this client taking his/her company in the next 5-10 years?
  • How can I best partner with this client to help them achieve their goals?

These are the questions that put fear in its place. They ensure the sales professional is in the right place and at the right time.

These questions seek to partner and understand a client more than get a sale. They are relationship building, not transactional.

In short, these questions are the mark of humility with confident expectation to make a difference, not a dollar.


Honesty is the best policy. So, what do you do when it all goes south?

You had all of the information, the alignment appeared to be obvious, and you sought to create an avenue for engagement, but the client said that infamous two-letter word – no.

Before you wallow in self-pity for seven days or become irate with the potential client:

  • Evaluate what happened.
  • Ask the client for feedback.
  • Ask support staff in the client’s office what they perceive may have gone wrong.
  • Ask for a follow-up visit to gain perspective.

Believe it or not, clients do not mind telling you why they said – NO. Many reasons may lead to a “no” from a client.

Timing, finances, planning, change in direction, company reputation, personal reasons are just a few that contribute to a “no.” And guess what? Sometimes, you did not do the best at conveying an idea.

By revisiting to get clarity, you may learn how to pitch your product or concept better. Remember, rejection is a teacher.

Rejection will show you where the vulnerabilities or faults are in your product or idea.

Therefore, fearing rejection stifles improvement. Instead of fearing rejection, put it in its proper place.


Perhaps the most helpful advice a sales professional can give and receive is that “no” is not out of the ordinary.

Would you believe rejecting new ideas or proposals is standard practice for many businesses? It is a way of leveraging time and observing the pitch maker’s intent and tenacity.

Investors despise a bright idea and a poor work ethic.

Rejection sorts these possibilities out, leaving those committed persons to rise to the top.

Here’s a fact: 25-percent of strong leads become actual sales or commitments.

So, relax, but assess your level of commitment.

  • Accomplish Small Wins
  • Sales is not a sprint.
  • It is a slow marathon.
  • In sales, the tortoise beats the hare.
  • Understand your “why?”


Most success realized in sales is a culmination of small wins over time.

Clients are cautious about big purchases and significant commitments. However, many are willing to make smaller purchases and less risky commitments.

During this time, you will build relationships. Clients get to know the sales professional and vice-versa.

Before you know it, they discuss their children, activities, college prospects, golfing together, playing tennis, running marathons, working together in charities that each share a common bond.

A client and sales professional’s relationship should transition over time from a strictly professional one to a neighborly one.

Small wins accomplish big goals.

Eventually, it becomes second nature to do bigger deals, seize upon more enormous opportunities, or take more significant risks.

The client has developed a relationship with a sales professional that transcends the workplace. Good salespeople establish accountability and personal relationships.

It is easier to make large purchases from someone you like and have gotten to know. It’s more natural to invest or partner with a new idea with someone you trust.

Small wins also encompass business-building exercises. Expecting a “no” is one thing, but what to do with it and after hearing it is another.

The sales professional must continue to build despite rejection.


  1. Build a formidable social media presence.

a. LinkedIn
b. Instagram
c. Facebook
d. Twitter
e. Podcasts
f. YouTube

  1. Post meaningful content on your webpage and respond to inquiries. Make engagement a top priority with the public.
  2. Read, read, read. Sales professionals must be connoisseurs of their product/service, but also all things about life. Self-improvement books are ideal and sharpen your craft with marketing and sales information.
  3. Improve your products and service, if it is in your power to do so, or partner with other divisions or persons affiliated with the products and services you are selling to create new offerings or enhancements that market-based intelligence shows as in demand.
    Remember, rejection is a teacher.
  • What did you learn?
  • Where do you need improvement?
  • Where are the vulnerabilities in the pitch?
  • What’s missing that is in demand?

Learn the lesson and build your business accordingly.


Relationship building certainly has its place, but the reality remains.
Approximately 25-percent of pitches are accepted. That means nearly 75-percent get an immediate rejection.

In other words, out of 10 calls, 7.5 will give you a “no” response. What is a sales professional to do with this reality?

  • Ask for feedback
  • Follow up
  • Keep in touch professionally.
  • Ask for referrals.
  • Consider passing the prospect onto another representative.

When a specific client prefers to deal with someone else, it’s not hateful. It’s preferential. As a result, relationship building is so vital.

Relationships circumvent preferential bias and cause one to question their preferences.

However, this is a tough hill to climb. It is probably best to pass this prospective client to another sales professional.

If humility is tempering your confidence, then arrogance and pride won’t rear their ugly heads in this situation.

Your focus and goal are to secure your business’s sale, not for the glory of self.


You will experience rejection – accept it and use it. It can be your teacher, so avoid seeing it as your enemy.

Know your numbers and build your business – the clients will come.

Visit for more information and register for upcoming online or in-person courses to learn how to become an expert at pitching.