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The Reality Of Prospecting and Rejection

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 path as their solution. Unfortunately, and here is the bad news, it leads to anemic or useless pipelines, leading to lean incomes or job loss, and therefore not the 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 median performance (across all industries) for B2B selling on the conversion metric for SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) to Close is 11-15% [1]; or stated differently, 85% to 89% of sales initiated end in rejection. Some may fall apart at the early stages, 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 them stay on track and progressively move towards their destination. It gives them options 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, fuelling 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 it, 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.

The first goal is not to cover the entire spectrum of the Proactive Prospecting Call, but to look specifically at how to handle the common rejections faced by intrepid sellers. If you are prepared, and can manage the most common objections, you will not only minimize rejection, but engage with more potential buyers, closing more deals, making more money, contribute to society, and who knows, save the planet from whatever you think ails it, knowing whatever it is, it will not be buyer rejection.

Commit to doing it, commit to practicing and improving daily and you will improve you success rate. If along the way you run into challenges, down points, or just feel rejected, I am here to help, just let me know.


Tobor Shanto