It's one of the oldest sayings in sales – “rejection isn't personal”. But sometimes, more frequently than we'd care to admit, it really is personal. We all need to accept that sometimes people may just not like us or get on with us, and learn to live with that.
A while ago on one of Jeffey Gitomer's newsletters I read a question by a reader which made me smile. The essence of the question was that if people buy from people they know, like and trust – then surely rejection really is personal?
Well, of course, there are many reasons why a prospect may not buy even if they know, like and trust you. An obvious reason being that the value of your product may not be right for them at this specific time – and Jeffrey answered by talking about this.
But the question itself got me thinking. Although rejection often isn't personal, just repeating this mantra without thinking can cause us to overlook problems in the way we are selling.
Firstly, it may well be that we just aren't being liked or trusted enough by our potential clients (or at least not enough of them).
While repeatedly questioning our own likeability or trustworthiness could drive us mad – we do need to take a step back every now and again to analyse whether there is something we are doing which is damaging our ability to be liked and earn the trust of our clients.
Secondly, we need to accept that even if we are doing nothing wrong – not everyone will like or trust us.
Our personal styles or other intangible factors will mean we just can't be liked by everyone. In fact, people with a very strong personality – people who really inspire strong positive feelings in many people – are also likely to inspire strong negative feelings in others. It just goes with the territory. It's probably better to be really loved by some and hated by others than it is to be viewed as OK by everyone.
More importantly, professionals (or people in any senior role) just can't afford to need everyone to like them. In sales, we frequently have to push into areas outside our comfort zones in relationships.
We have to cold call prospects and risk them telling us where to go. We have to ask good customers for referrals and risk them feeling we are “using” them. We have to ask customers for the sale and risk rejection, or the customer feeling pressured.
Of course, there are ways to minimise the impact of these relationship “boundary stretches” by pre-positioning the customer that you will be asking for referrals later for example, or warming up the cold call.
Nonetheless, these techniques won't work 100% of the time. An effective professional must be prepared to take calculated risks and to suffer pushback and rejection. And let's not kid ourselves – sometimes it will be very clear that the rejection is personal – you have pushed an existing relationship a bit too far, or tried to initiate one with a prospect who just wasn't ready.
Rather than pretending that it wasn't personal we must get over our need to be loved by everyone. We must do our best, but at the end of the day some people just won't like us.
If we can't get over our need to be loved, we won't take the “risks” or be bold enough to do what's needed in sales – to make the calls, ask for the referrals or close the sale. A life lived in cotton wool can be comforting and risk free – but it's not the life of a successful professional.