« Want Referrals? Check This Out. | Main | Don't Blow it When Your Prospect Answers the Phone »


George E. Zorgo, Jr.

"Embracing Rejection"? No.
"Evaluating Rejection"? Yes!

The only place where "Embracing Rejection" could make sense is in a Saturday Night Live satire. This idea may have come from the same philosophy that brought us "To be successful at sales, you first have to develop the skin of an alligator". Great idea. Why waste your time listening, evaluating, rewriting and tweaking when you can make 1,000 uniform failed calls a week?

I think it's time these folks either wake up or move on to the grand finale, "Embracing Failure"!

Maitiu MacCabe

Way to go, Jill! I just had to comment on this item, although I am usually a lurker.

My take on this is to ask my sales training groups the following:
"Early on in your selling career, did you hear more or fewer objections than you do now?"
Ans: "MORE".- always.
"Did you get more or fewer sales orders than now?"
Ans: "FEWER"- always.
I then say: "So, why do you continue to believe the bull's pooh - from the "experts" - that says "Objections are good for oyu?"

One major problem , of course is that sellers confuse "Objection" with "Rejection".
Unless it is a smokescreen to get rid of the seller, objections are always questions that have been asked in the wrong way.

A traineee of mine once had a client say to him: "Your crowd are a gang of rip- off b**ta*ds".

When he probed, it turned out the client actually meant, "What am I getting for the extra few euro you are asking me to pay you?" He could handle this.

But "Rip-ff b**ta*ds"" is a long way from "What extra value are you offering?"

Sellers too often focus on what is said rather than what is meant.

Asking good probing questions is the answer to a LOT of things in selling!

Keep up the good work Jill. I look forward to your (always) hugely interesting missives.

(We had some correspondence about 12 months ago, and I am still highly recommending your spendid book).

The Best of Irish to you.

Maitiu MacCabe, Dublin, Ireland

Paul Swenson

I think salespeople need to “Embrace Rejection” and sales managers should encourage it. To me embracing rejection means not being afraid to fail. It also means dusting yourself off after a big hit and getting back to the line of scrimmage quickly. (Sorry about the football analogy but it is Super Bowl week).

As you mention, it is also imperative to find out the reason for the rejection. Not only does it help to improve skills but more often than not there was some uncontrolled factor that caused the client to go with another vendor. For instance when I was selling office machines I had a real estate agent whom I thought I had locked up. Another salesperson came in and promised him the listing on his house if he purchased a copier from him. It was frustrating losing the sale but because I found out the reason I was rejected it allowed me to walk away beaten but unbowed.

Hugh MacNiven

EXCELLENT lead article today, Jill!

I’ve hated this line of thinking since I first ran into it listening to Tom Hopkins in 1985 – and he inherited it from J. Douglas Edwards twenty years earlier! I vaguely remember they used to even have you “calculate the value” of each rejection by dividing your commission by the number of calls it took to sell – so if you earned $100 on a sale, and you were successful on 1 our of every 10 presentations, then each rejection “was actually worth” 10 bucks, because you ought to divide your commission by the total number of presentations…. And these guys actually made money as sales trainers!

To end on a lighter note:
This reminded me of a great old selling joke (you’ve probably heard it or some version):
Two strangers in a hotel bar, early evening, strike up a conversation. They learn they are both salespeople, having spent the days making calls. One asks the other: “How was your day?” The second one replies enthusiastically: “Oh I had some of the best conversations I’ve ever had today!” The first one smiles, and says knowingly: “So you didn’t sell anything today either, huh?”

David A. Peterson

I don't think you can embrace rejection. I do think you have to have very thick skin to be in sales because rejection is part of the sales process.

I have the same suggestion as everyone else – try to cut down on the number of rejections you are getting. The easiest way to do this is to listen to your calls or your rep’s calls. You will be amazed at what you can learn from those calls.

If you don’t have the technology to playback the calls then make sure you are actively listening and that you give immediate feedback to the rep if you hear a mistake.

In my experience a lot of the rejection occurs because the rep did not hear the actual issue or they completely missed the buying signal. These are simple items to correct and can severely cut down on the number of rejections.


After every call, after every day, after every week, ask yourself these four questions:
1. What did I like about what just happened?
2. What should I do differently next time
3. What obstacles did I face?
4. What resources do I need?

If you do this after every call and be honest with yourself, you will learn very quickly.

For more on this see my blog post:

Patrick Kilhoffer

I mostly agree with you although I look at it slightly differently. Your conversation should both appeal to the prospect that is likely to purchase what you are selling AND identify the ones that aren't prospects.

While you would hope for 100% to be initially interested and then to have 100% purchase, it isn't likely because the list you are working from probably isn't going to contain the information you need to identify the situation at their company with 100% accuracy. The goal is to appeal to as many valid prospects as possible AND to accurately identify as many of the non-prospects as possible.

I can write a script that generates 85%+ response rates. If I'm not careful, I can write one that pulls a 95% response rate. It's not even difficult. But my clients would be pretty upset with the low quality of the leads they would be getting if I did. :)

Someday someone will hand me a perfect prospecting list. I had a pretty darn good one once before and we generated an 98% response rate and a 85% close rate. But that's unusual. Usually if the response rate is over 30%, the client starts complaining about low lead quality. So yes, sometimes you need to take a little rejection or the client won't be happy.

For example, if your response rate is "too high" and you are spending too much time with unqualified non-prospects, you may want to qualify them for budget on the initial call. You will lose some sales that way, since they might have found the budget at a later time, or decided that your approach was too pushy, but the lead quality overall will be better.

I do agree though that embracing rejection for it's own sake is pretty silly.

(Note from Jill: Patrick's website is http://www.directconnectionsint.com )

Troy Bingham - Power Dialer

I agree with you strongly but it is important not to over analyze a failed phone call. One call's outcome does not determine the capabilities of your approach. Instead, evaluate failed opportunities over time. Do you get the same objections, run into the same problems call after call. Then make changes. Split test (popular on websites) also works with scripts and approaches.

Attorney Smith

I really like these lines,"To be successful, you must take a serious look at all aspects of the interaction that were within your control. This includes:

* Your word choices.
* How you positioned your company.
* The sequence of what you said.
* How much you said: too little, too much.
* Your tone, pace and sound.
Thanks for sharing this and for back link.


While I hope to be 100% initially, and then interested to buy 100%, it is not possible because the list you are working likely will not contain the information that you need to know the situation in their company with 100% accuracy. The goal is to appeal to the largest possible number of viable opportunities and to identify accurately as many of the expectations is not possible.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Contact Info

  • Phone: 651.429.1922
    [email protected]
    Twitter: @jillkonrath

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter
    Blog powered by Typepad