businessman with umbrella and thumb down rain

Rejection In Your Face4

By Tibor Shanto – 

In the late 1990’s or early part of the last decade, I remember reading a piece about a study in one of the Scandinavian countries, who were early adopters of text messaging, SMS. It pointed to the fact that more and more young people were choosing to initially interact with potential dates using SMS, one of the key reasons that rejection was easier to deal with when it was not direct, in your face. The rate of rejection or acceptance did not change much, may have even gone up as it is easier to ignore a text message. But the lack intimacy, direct contact, not having to be in direct contact at the time of rejection, made it more bearable, despite the result.

There is no doubt that the reason sales people do not like to prospect, specifically direct prospecting, for instance telephone prospecting, is rejection. Who can blame them, no one wants to be rejected, and it is only compounded when that rejection directly impacts one’s ability to earn a living, eat and generally succeed in their chosen vocation. This is why so many sales people and companies spend time and money trying to avoid objections. The thinking being, “if we can avoid rejection, we will have greater success.” Understandable but hardly practical, if you are going to make unsolicited calls (cold or pre-warmed), you will face rejection. If you are going to play football, you will get tackled, you will get bruised, and if you have any intention of succeeding, you will get back up and ready yourself for the next play. Not so for many in sales.

This became even more clear during an unsocial discussion with a proponent of social selling. He was trying to convince me that there is less rejection with his approach than with telephone prospecting. While neither of us had the stats to prove or dispute, what was clear is that his focus was not the rejection itself, but more how he did, or did not, have to deal with it. Much like the adolescent lovers in Scandinavia, for this person, and I suspect for many who exclude telephones from their prospecting routine, it was more about how direct the rejection was.

“I don’t mind if they don’t respond, I just don’t want to have to deal with the reality of it.”

Which is another example of where the driving factor in executing a sales is not the desired outcome, but how it “feels”. It feels good when someone puts a like on your LinkedIn or Facebook post, allowing us to pretend that those who choose not to like it, who ignore and reject the message, just don’t exist. But from a desired outcome perspective, no different. So why not go direct?

One of my first sales jobs required that I make 160 dials per day, speak to 30 people, and get a yes from ten. My manager helped me by highlighting that if the 100 people who “rejected” me through the week were all in the subway car with me on my ride home Friday, they would have no idea it was me who they blew off on the phone. To this day, I look at the people in the Starbucks line, and wonder which one blew me off on the phone that morning.

While rejection may not be fun, it is part of sales, and will happen no matter which approach you take, it just a question of how direct, and how you deal with it, choosing not to deal with it does not change things. The real question is what is more important, achieving desired outcomes, or???

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Pain Pills

Pick Your Pain0

By Tibor Shanto – 

There is a lot of talk in sales about pain, sales people seem to be always looking for it in buyers, trying to avoid it in their world, yet selectively being open to some pain, while completely avers to the same or lesser pain served up differently.  Many sales people seem to live a variation of an old sayings, “Better the pain you know than the pain you don’t know”; “The lesser of two pains.”  For me it all stems from prospecting, sales people willingness to prospect thoroughly and consistently.

When I ask sales people why they don’t like to tele-prospect, the number one reason I get is the fear of rejection, the pain of rejection seems so big and painful, that people would rather forfeit success, than pick up the phone and talk to a real prospect.   No doubt there is a big rejection factor, chances are you will be rejected by about 86% of the people you speak with.

At the same time, studies have shown that on average the close ratio of Sales Qualified Leads in B2B sales is 16.4%.  Looked at the other way, this is an 83.4% rejection rate.  Yet I have never heard a rep tell me they don’t want to go to a first appointment for fear of being rejected at the end.  They happily march off to battle, giving it their all, never thinking twice about the impending rejection to come, they lean in to it and make it happen, well sometimes, really about 16.4% of the time.  So what am I missing 86.00% vs. 83.40%, where in the 2.6% difference is the tipping point?  While rejection in any form is undesirable, seems to me the quick bullet between the eyes when making a cold call is much better than the slow death.  I hate it when you go down to the wire and get a no, having invested the effort time and resources required moving the sale along.  You don’t know the guy who just hung up on you, and he would not have a clue who you are when you stand behind him waiting for his “skinny soy venti double shot Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha”.  It is even worse with Marketing Qualified Leads, according to some, 98% will not lead to closed business.

The key difference is the complete lack of process and metrics around prospecting vs. the rest of the sale.  Most sales people and organizations have clear process for the sales from handshake to close.  The stages are defined, activities, tools, measurements all in place.  Contingencies for different road blocks, potential alternatives, and resources.  This allows for context and understanding, we may not like the results, but we can contextualize it based on the process, and take lessons into the next sale.

The same can be said for the lead generation process.  Clear rules around what happens when there is an inquiry, how they are nurtured, etc.

But when it comes to that first contact there is little process.  Sure some give you a script, but what about the dynamics, how to deal with environment created by an interruption, how to handle the most common objections.  Metrics are absolute, rather qualitative and individual, making them limiting not enabling.

In the end though the worst pain is that of being “Rejected from President’s Club”.   Somehow some sales people would rather live with the pain, stigma and reality of missing quota, than a brief rejection from someone they do not know, who will forget them long before the next call.

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The Reality Of Prospecting Rejection116

Talk to any group of sales people and ask why they don’t like prospecting, specifically cold calling, and rejection is at the top of the list.  In actual fact, it should say fear of rejection, because all too often they don’t even get around to making the calls to be rejected, the fear of it prevents them from picking up the phone to start with.  Well here some good news, bad news, and then some real good news.

The first bit of good news is that there is a sure proof way to avoid rejection, don’t make the call, and many as we know have chosen this solution.  Unfortunately, and here is the bad news, it leads to anemic or useless pipelines, leading to lean incomes or job loss, not an ideal solution.

The real good news is that you don’t have to fear, avoid or shy away from rejection.  In fact if you look at other aspects of your sale, you already know how to deal with rejection.  Fact, the close percentage of sales qualified leads to close is about 11% – 15%; or stated differently, 85% to 89% of sales initiated end in rejection.  Some may fall apart at the, some along the way, but 85% to 89% of sales end up with you and or your value prop being rejected.

Contrast this with stats I have been collecting from people who successfully adopt our Proactive Prospecting Program, convert one out of every six to eight phone call conversations (yes, cold calls) to appointments.  That is 12.5% – 16.6% success rate.  About the same as the lead to close.  Yet I have never met a sales person who said that they are afraid of engaging with a buyer or submitting a proposal for fear of rejection.

For me the key difference is outlook and attitude, specifically rooted in the confidence one gets from a process or methodology.  When you have a strategy, a plan, with a corresponding action plan detailed with alternatives and choices based on experience and best practices, execution is more likely and consistent.

Most sales organizations and successful sales people have a sales methodology or process they adhere to and follow in executing their sale.  It helps stay on track and progressively move towards their destination.  It gives them option on how to address hurdles or unexpected events and responses from buyers, including how to handle objections throughout the sale, right down to price objections.  In essence a detailed road map, with road closures, feruling stations, and detours.  This allows them to cope with challenges along the way, and more importantly put wins and losses in context.

These same organizations do not have a formal process for prospecting, especially prospecting the vast majority of the market, those we refer to as the status quo.  Which means there is no step by step methodology, road map, contingencies, and without metrics, no context.  If they did they would have some sense of confidence that they are actually executing things correctly, the context to things on track, and how to handle the most common objections.  As a result, all they can relate to is the relatively low successes and the seemingly relatively high rejection rate.

But as highlighted above, the real issue is not the rejection levels, but the lack of process, metrics, and context.  Without this you don’t know if you blew, or were blown off, all you have is the sense of rejection.

There are various methods out there, once adopted the results speak for themselves, your next step is to pick one that fits with your sale, adopt it, execute, review and refine.  Once you do that it will be less about rejection, which you will still experience, and more about understanding, which you can always improve.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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