This lesson is rightfully placed as commandment number one in Tim Ferris' podcast, Ten Commandments for Startup Success with Reid Hoffman.
Having spent the majority of my professional career involved directly or indirectly in sales I have developed a rather tough skin for rejection. I remember as a tweenager (early-twenty something) I was taking 100+ calls via an automatic dialer every day for two years! I conservatively estimate that over the course of my entire sales career I’ve made over 250,000 prospecting calls.
At first, it was hard to hear the word "No" because it felt like failing. Why are they saying No? Was it something I did or didn’t say? Should I use a different voice? Lol, I remember sales associates changing their voice tone or accent on cold calls. Should I ask a different opening question? What am I doing wrong?
I started listening to the top sales people on the floor and although I did learn a few new tricks, I quickly realized none of those little differences significantly impacted the outcome. I studied hundreds of weekly/monthly KPI reports and found a very consistent pattern- 80% of customers simply aren’t in a position to say "Yes" (we can spend a whole day on why they said "No", sales process, objection handling all that jazz) but ultimately, you can expect to hear "No" 80% of the time you are prospecting/ pitching your idea.
I remember as a young sales person being given a sheet of paper with 20 tick boxes and being told that I should have at least one check mark and 19 X’s. Meaning that I should be able to get one YES out of 20 calls. This type of approach helped me settle my expectations and after while I started becoming more comfortable with hearing no because I knew that with every X I got out of the way it led me one box closer to that check mark! This meant staying persistent would serve me well but I also had to become a master at my craft.
I realized I needed to be an expert in my business. I was able to answer any and all questions with confidence. This didn’t come right away. This confidence came as a result of crashing hard during calls/pitches. Every battle I lost made me a stronger person! It sounds counter-intuitive but every "No" was helping me! To be honest, if people aren’t challenging your pitch or rejecting your offer, you are not getting better.
Everyone has heard of the phrase Fail early Fail Often Fail Forward.
What do you learn from winning all of the time?
You should be out there chasing "No’s" all day every day-