The Gift of Rejection

This is an excerpt from my book ‘Go Shake the Trees’

‘Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection’ (Tavis Smiley) 

At age 21 I certainly knew nothing about handling rejection. After all it is not taught at school, in universities or in families. It is a rather rude awakening when you take up your first job and the jobs that follow. You are not equipped to deal with rejection from prospective clients and the magnitude of the loss of deals. It is soul destroying to be on the receiving end of clear NO’s. It is a confidence breaker. You are thrown with so many curved balls both at work and at home when starting out in your early years and you don’t have the skill or experience to deal with it. The truth is that rejection never lessens or goes away as it remains as a test throughout your life.  

If you think you are the only one battling with rejection, you are not. Rejection is part of life. And rejection hurts whether it is in a sale, a relationship, an opportunity, or even a job interview. You cannot escape it, it is everywhere. You will face it and it is best to start managing it, knowing that each time it will get easier. What you can be certain of is that it will stay as a test for life. As soon as you grasp it in your sales career, it will come around in another form. Rejection mastery can never be underestimated.

If I was only allowed to give you one piece of advice it would be this: the most important factor in sales is overcoming rejection. Not mastering rejection has caused the demise of so many salespeople. I have seen sales colleagues turn to alcohol, drugs and even end up in depression. Rejection is seen as failure. It is going to happen, and in sales it arrives in truckloads. The most important part in this is how you rise from it and continue. You may spend hours, days and weeks pursuing a sale only to be turned down. It would be irrational to say it wouldn’t affect you at all. Face the feelings yet don’t get stuck in them.         

I follow the principle of after each NO or rejection I am one step closer to a YES or a sale. If out of 10 possible deals you convert 3 to sales, every one of those 7 NO’s brings you nearer to one of the 3 YES’s. This was a major realisation and game changer for me.

The point is that the more clients you connect with and the higher your visibility, the more sales you will make. 

Rejection has now become a fuel to get out there and make sales magic happen. For me it is no longer a reason to stop or give up. 

Some tips to assist you:

  1. Don’t take it personally, don’t let rejection define or damage you (take stock of who you are and your achievements)
  2. Redefine your approach, pitch, or communication style (take action)
  3. Remember from each NO you are closer to a YES! (stay focused)

Years back I created a board game called ‘Moving on UP’. I thought this game was a best seller. I used my sports degree knowledge and upliftment training as a basis for this game. What I didn’t do was market research which was naïve. I ploughed my last penny into this business and yes, I sold some games – but not enough. I suffered a financial loss and with it, a bruised ego. I went out there selling this game, yet I mainly received NO’s with only the odd kind person buying one. The point here is, I never let it define me. I realized where I went wrong and was honest as how I could improve.  Keep showing up and never give up! If through rejection you are learning and growing, then you are succeeding! Rejection is meant to redirect you to new opportunities. And remember that rejection is in all our lives to polish us, make us more human and give us a nudge to be even better!

Rejection is not the end. It may feel like a death, a blackout, and a point of no return, yet that is not true. Rejection through a different perspective can be a new beginning, redirection, and course corrector. It can bring new opportunity, a breakthrough and be a blessing. 

I lost a Toastmasters election, by a narrow margin, in 2021. I felt betrayed and rejected, yet I knew it was for a reason and today I can state that it was a blessing. At the time it was excruciatingly painful and a pain that seemed to never end, yet it freed up my time, it gave me the space to redirect my life and focus on my career. I would not be writing this book, training, and coaching if I had won that election. All my time would have gone into that demanding post and set me back career wise.

If you believe that everything is working out for your best interest then you will find the gift in every rejection.

You will choose to thrive and let nothing defeat you on your magnificent journey!

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