How to Handle Rejection In Sales: Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
Overcoming the crippling fear of rejection is one of the toughest things for salespeople to do. Since I coach financial advisors, I'm intimately familar with the tehnically-savvy advisor who knows everything about his or her area of expertise, but just can't get the sales part right. If you are a financial advisor who is struggling with sales, check out 37 Sales Tips for Financial Advisors.
Here are two of the biggest reasons why financial advisors fail at marketing their services.
1. They don’t know how to market. (Fortunately, I solve that problem with The Ultimate Financial Advisor's Guide to Getting More Clients.)
2. They can’t/don’t want to deal with getting rejected. Let’s talk about this one.
If you are afraid of rejection, the odds of success are stacked against you. Nothing will grow your book of business than getting rejected ten-thousand times. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done. The fear of rejection still lurks deep within our lizard brains. Our brains can’t tell the difference between fighting for our very survival versus being told no from a prospect.
As a financial advisor, your goal is to develop and maintain lucrative relationships with affluent investors. Since most affluent investors already have an advisor, you must interrupt and disrupt the relationship. Most financial advisors are really afraid of the interruption/disruption part.
Speaking of interrupting, you’re always going to interrupt when you’re prospecting, and since relentless prospecting builds an incredible business, you must interrupt. It’s difficult to interrupt someone’s day because you don’t know how they will react. You become hyper-vigilant, interpreting their reaction to being interrupted as a rejection. Your lizard brain screams out “rejection” when all their behavior demonstrates is a reflex response to the interruption. We are all social creatures and want to be accepted, but you have to realize that your primal brain is killing your business. Relax. There’s no real threat.
Think of it this way – if a prospect has a strong personality and is giving you a serious rejection, appreciate it and go even harder if you want. Because when you DO get this person for a client, you’ve got him/her for life. Every other financial advisor who tries to lure the client away from you won’t be able to deal with the rejection. But you will.
You can’t control what your prospects say or do. In reality, the only things you can control are your actions and your activity level. What are you doing to do and how frequently are you going to do it?
Most of us have weird mental hang-ups about rejection. I get it. We’re all wired to be social creatures and if we get rejected, it hurts us on a primal level. From birth, we all strive to be accepted by others. When somebody rejects our sales proposal, they’re going against the grain of our lifelong conditioning and it’s incredibly uncomfortable.
With that being said, the first step is to realize that fearing rejection is completely natural. It means you’re normal. Everyone wants to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It might be easier or more comfortable to avoid rejection in the short-term, but in the long-term, the results are devastating. If you can’t handle rejection, you are going to have a very difficult life. Want your dream job? You’ll face rejection. Want the man or woman of your dreams? You’ll probably get rejected a few times first. Want to build a business? Don’t even get me started.
You might be able to recognize on a conscious level that a thriving business, dream spouse or dream job is well worth the price of rejection, but somehow you can’t put yourself through that short-term pain. I totally understand. I hated getting rejected too. People would tell me a few of these cute “you can do it” stories, like:
But guess what? They didn’t work! I still hesitated every time I had to make a sales call, send an important email, or have a necessary confrontation. I couldn’t relate because I wasn’t working a newspaper job, I wasn’t Oprah Winfrey, and I wasn’t playing basketball. The only one I could somewhat relate to was the Kentucky Fried Chicken story because Colonel Sanders wouldn’t give up and was eventually rewarded with the biggest sale of his life.
The financial services industry is a low-percentage, high-payoff industry. This means that you don’t have to win a lot to win big. When you’re focused on affluent investors, getting a few dozen can make a rewarding practice.
Let me be clear – the fear of rejection will not go away. It is a survival mechanism embedded deep within all of us. Also, I would be doing you a disservice if I told you that there was some cure-all strategy for dealing with rejection. The truth is, no one approach works for everyone.
But at that point in my life, I needed an approach that was immediately applicable and relevant to my own life. Here’s what worked for me.
Don’t Take It Personally
It almost seems too simple, but it’s true. You’ve probably heard it before, but have you really thought about it? Whenever someone gets distressed over rejection, a big part of the reason is that they take it personally. They feel as if they’re being rejected on a deep, personal level. As if the prospect is really rejecting who the salesperson is as a human being.
Part of the problem is that we take ourselves too seriously. We believe that the world revolves around us, and it does! There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to realize that even though the situation might be all about you in your own mind, to your prospect, it’s all about them.
You’ve rejected someone before, right? Did you think about that person all night long and how awful he was to proposition you with an offer? Did you hate him with every fiber of your being and vow to seek revenge? Do you see how absurd this sounds? This is what most people create in their heads, when in reality the prospect won’t remember anything about them. Think about the last cold call you received and rejected – it wasn’t that big of a deal, right? You just told the person your reason for not buying and moved on with your life. You probably don’t even remember the salesperson’s name. This is exactly how it is with your own prospects. If they reject you, they won’t even remember who you are a week from now. It’s just not that serious.
Understand That Prospecting Is Difficult.
Only you can make the decision to go beyond your own mental barriers. It’s always going to suck. There’s no “easy button”. Prospecting, interrupting someone’s day and getting rejected is emotionally draining, but it’s the price you have to pay to earn a high income.
I see financial advisors’ pipelines get the “kiss of death” whenever they slow down their prospecting efforts. Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say that you close 10% of all your prospects, and you have 30 prospects in your pipeline. If you close one deal, how many prospects are left in your pipeline?
If you said 29, you’re wrong. If you have a 10% closing rate, this means you will close one out of every ten people in your pipeline. So when you close a deal, the other nine people are no longer viable prospects. You must continually replace people who become clients with prospects at a level that at least matches your closing ratio.
Make Rejection Your Goal
You read that right. This was a game changer for me. I understood that rejection was going to happen no matter what I did, so I made it my goal. Let’s say that person A has a goal of setting five appointments this week and person B has the goal of getting fifty rejections. If person A heads to the office and has an amazing Monday morning, setting all five appointments in a row, he thinks he’s set. He’ll stop actively prospecting and go play some golf. Person B might also have an amazing Monday morning, set all five appointments in a row, but still not meet his goal. He is the one with the motivation to keep going. The best part is that he is on a “hot streak”, which means that his confidence and charisma will affect his future appointment-setting success.
If you’re going to get rejected anyway, you might as well make it part of your overall game. Trust me when I tell you that the quickest way to set yourself apart from everyone else is to actively seek out rejection. After all, hearing “yes” is the easy part. Anybody can do that. Hearing “no” is empowering.
Remember that you don’t prospect for gold by actively seeking gold. You get the gold by removing all the dirt.
Getting rejected is just a way of removing all the dirt. Every time you get rejected, you should be smiling, because it means you’re one step closer to the gold.
P.S. If you're a financial advisor who wants to get more clients from LinkedIn, make sure you check out How to Get Clients With LinkedIn: How Financial Advisors Can Set Appointments and Convert Prospects With LinkedIn