Whoever told you, “the worst they can say is no!” forgot how discouraging and frustrating it can be to hear it. When someone says “no,” to you, your sales confidence is zapped and you might not know what to do next.

It’s easy to succumb to defeat after getting a hard “no,” but that isn’t going to help anyone — especially not you.

The way you phrase a sentence on a sales call could be the difference between getting a “hell yes” and a “hell no,” right? The same goes for handling rejection. Whether you realize it or not, your reaction to hearing “no” could be what’s standing between you and success in your career.

The good news is you’re not alone — Andrea Waltz, speaker, best-selling author and one half of the “Go for No!” team, joined an episode of the Inside INSIDE Sales podcast to show you how to overcome rejection and find the value in “no” in three tangible steps.

Take notes, Padawan.

1. Success means changing your mental model

Most of us fear rejection, but…why? You can’t overcome it without knowing why, so except for some details, it’s quite simple:

  • As a kid, your parents teach you to be polite and respectful, not to interrupt and you didn’t hear the end of it if you didn’t.
  • During adulthood, you’re trained to avoid — ding, ding, ding! — rejection.

In sales, how do you adapt to the demands of a career that requires you to shoulder your Achilles heel or sidestep your subconscious reluctance to hit your numbers?

Give yourself permission to fail by changing your mental model of failure and success:

Right now, you’re in the middle doing everything in your power to avoid rejection.
Right now, you’re in the middle doing everything in your power to avoid rejection.

Your current mental model leaves huge gaps for self-doubt, worrying about whether you’re liked or too aggressive, and none of those behaviors represent what “going for no” means.

The idea behind “Go for No!” is to “intentionally increase your failure rate to go out and hear no’s more often, so you build your skills, you build your confidence and you find those ‘yeses.’”

Yes, we’re saying: Let yourself fail more often. Rejection is an inherent part of the process and you can’t bypass it on your way to success.

That’s tough for salespeople because we naturally want to whip out protective mechanisms and avoid failure entirely, but what do you risk by doing that?

You’re left with the choice to have a mediocre sales career because “you’re never putting yourself in a position to fail, you’re never willing to [take a] risk or go that extra mile.”

2. YES is the destination, but NO is how to get there

With a refreshed mindset, you can put the next step into action: set “no” goals.

“Instead of just setting a typical ‘yes’ goal, why don’t you set a goal to get 10 ‘no’s or 50 ‘no’s’?” asks Andrea. The idea is to have a plan in place for dealing with no’s so you can avoid the trap of making assumptions and excuses.

You have to figure out what you’re going to do with “no’s” and decide your next steps, then continue to pursue those opportunities and push through.

Now, I know this is going to be a struggle. But the alternative is an emotional rollercoaster that impacts your success and doesn’t allow you to be consistent or productive. When your mindset isn’t in tune with your “no” goals, the emotional rollercoaster comes about because of two things:

  • How you mentally respond to the ‘no’. Do you think: I’m a total failure.
  • The initial actions you take post rejection. Do you spend the next week avoiding calls?

It’s like playing a mind trick on yourself — by going for “no”’ the rules of the game change and you can let yourself fail. You can even be excited about reaching your goals and crossing the 20 or 50 “no’s” off your to-do list, right?

It won’t be this soul-crushing moment anymore, but rather a stop you make on the way to your destination. And when the “yeses” do come, it’s like a bonus.

“Going for no” is all about action, people. When you focus on behaviors, your mindset will change on the backend.

“We actually have to embrace [rejection], seek it out and get the answers,” says Andrea, because, sometimes, you need a no to make the progress you’re looking for.

3. Your new coping method

achieve your goals

Now that you know negative reactions to rejection lead to inconsistency and unproductivity, here’s your final step: celebrate the “no’s!”

“This is the new mental model all great business people operate from. They don’t shy away from failure and they don’t run from rejection; they move through it.”

Your goal is to even out your emotional reaction, and you can’t do that if rejections have you in a funk. When you set “no” goals and create room to celebrate failure productively, your prospecting activity will skyrocket:

  • Don’t do this: 4 “yes” goals per month – You’ll hit your goal before the deadline and stop all productivity for the rest of the month.
  • Do this instead: 50 “no” goals per month – You might get four “yeses” the very first week of the month, which leaves three weeks to keep “going for no” and simultaneously create opportunities to get more “yeses.”

Let the value of ‘No’ boost your sales confidence

It comes down to “seeing the value of those rejections and the value of ‘no’ as opposed to not asking the question, picking up the phone or making progress with that potential customer — that’s really where the failure comes.”

As you work to adopt this new mindset, remember what it means to “Go for No!”:

  • Continue to pursue your ideal prospects
  • Continue to offer value when possible
  • Have positive persistence as you try to turn a “no” into a “yes”
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