The power (and importance) of rejections in sales (and life)

The power (and importance) of rejections in sales (and life)

Let’s start with a quick funny story. It’s not directly about sales, but we’re going to get there — don’t worry.

I had a friend who was a consultant for a business that Microsoft (enterprise!) eventually bought. One of his client engagements was this: they flew him to Atlanta, and the client was a restaurant chain that, well, let’s just say they objectify women waitresses a bit more than most should be comfortable with.

One of the restaurants was performing really well. One, a few miles away, was not.

The consultant team on this problem had all sorts of ideas about margins, revenues, sales models, etc. All the conventional business ideas.

Here’s what really happened: one restaurant was near a construction site. The guys liked to go in and see the women. When the construction project ended, the revenues of the two restaurants returned to equivalent.

All these consultants had spent all this money and time analyzing and thinking about the wrong things.

What’s the point here? Sometimes we want to run our businesses and make our decisions in this really conventional, old-school way — but over here, there’s a simpler yet deeper approach to how we could get at the info we need.

This majorly applies to sales.

How does it apply to sales?

You ever heard a dialogue like this?

Sales Director: “I don’t want to hear about how many leads you disqualified last month. I only want to hear about active opportunities!”

Account Manager: “But… but … but …”

I understand that business is very achievement and success-driven. In such a context/world, we all want to hear about solutions, hot leads, etc. We don’t want to ask questions — who has time? — or think more deeply about what’s really going on.

This exchange above is a mistake. It’s a big mistake.

Ask why. Ask how.

You need to understand who is getting disqualified to understand the process better. You need to go beyond the “basic business stuff” like counting up leads. You need to understand the power that lies in the rejections.

If disqualification is common, what’s the culprit?

Usually it’s going to be one of two things:

  • Poor sales message
  • Poor product/market fit

Both are problems.

Exposing these problems are the reasons that:

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The failure-success discussion here

Failure and success in sales are not enemies or opposites.

In fact, they’re closer to siblings or cousins.

If you can understand why you’re failing — why so many prospects are being disqualified — then you can understand and think on what’s necessary for success, which will usually be:

  • Re-examine your pipeline/targets
  • Re-examine your product/market fit
  • Re-train your principals
  • Re-organize your processes
  • Work on your sales message (message/persona fit)

You absolutely need to understand the why of disqualification to fix your sales issues. There’s power in those rejections. Take a look at our B2B Sales Essentials blog post.

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