Strategies to Get Over Your Fear of Rejection

Updated on 24 June 2019

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One of the most common factors that can limit the growth of a business is an entrepreneur’s reluctance to sell and the fear of rejection, says Kevan Wright, a business coach, mentor and workshop facilitator at Fetola Business Development Professionals

Based on his experience working with entrepreneurs enrolled in the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme, a skills development programme; Wright says the two activities avoided most often by business owners are sales and asking for money, even though without these essential activities a business cannot survive – let alone thrive.

This is regardless of  how passionate the entrepreneur may be or how much they may believe in their business and its offering, he adds.

Wright offers the following insights into why your fear of selling may be holding you back:
– What causes the fear of failure
– How fear can affect your confidence and impact your business
– Possible solutions to help you overcome your anxiety

What’s behind the fear

Although comfortable with the usual rigors associated with entrepreneurship, the prospect of asking somebody to part with their money in exchange for their product or service seems to strike fear into one’s core.

Furthermore, the attributes of a ‘successful sales person’ are commonly defined using phrases like ‘has the gift of the gab’, ‘can sell ice to an Eskimo’ and ‘is very pushy’. However, implying that the art of selling is a natural, God-given talent couldn’t be further from the truth.

I believe the most prevalent reason for sales avoidance is a fear of rejection, inherent in most individuals – whether due to cultural reasons, social conditioning, low self-esteem or other reasons. But the fact remains – if you’re not selling, you aren’t in business!

Expecting to win every sale is unrealistic

How rejection affects you and your sales

1. You feel like a failure

Rejection can be a bitter pill to swallow as it instills a sense of failure within oneself and amongst one’s peers. It is taken as a personal affront, often leaving one disillusioned and dejected. But it should never be seen as personal, specifically since we all unwittingly reject businesses every day – like when we walk past shops without buying anything.

It’s not that we don’t like the store, its owner or its products – we merely don’t need that particular item on that day.

2. Your confidence takes a knock

Rejection can make one feel inadequate and unworthy, resulting in a decline in motivation and self-belief. This potentially leads to a downward spiral in performance, which in turn fuels self-fulfilling prophecies and further decline.

3. You lose your effectiveness as a sales person

A fear of rejection often constrains salespeople to their comfort zones, which is usually aligned to the perceived seniority level or social standing of the relevant decision maker.

As an avoidance measure, they most often engage with inappropriate role-players who command minimal influence – resulting in wasted time, resources and a further decline in self-esteem.

This translates directly to forecasting integrity and is often a collateral result of the fear of rejection. Examples include:

  • Not seeing enough prospects – expecting to win every sale is unrealistic. Just as the best sports teams in the world are expected to occasionally lose games, so does every salesperson lose sales. Sales are about statistics – accept that you will lose some, but the more prospects one engages with, the more sales will be concluded!
  • Inaccurate and unreliable data due to not asking direct and relevant questions of the appropriate decision makers. A dismal looking, but accurate sales pipeline is more useful than one that looks good but cannot be relied upon for decision making.

If you’re not in it to win, why be in it at all?

How to overcome your fear

1. Think about the customer, not yourself

Successful salespeople need to passionately believe in the value that will be received by the customer, not just the technical features that are being offered. Appropriate research, asking the right questions and placing oneself in the customer’s shoes will help in establishing their exact needs.

Shifting the perception from “getting the deal” to “helping the customer” will significantly reduce the fear of rejection due to an unyielding belief in the value that is being offered.

2. Remember the squeaky hinge gets oiled

Successful salespeople are structured and strategic thinkers who maintain a strict discipline of prospecting and follow-up activities, irrespective of whether a previous sale has been won or lost.

Customer needs change continuously and tomorrow they may need what they didn’t before. Never stop calling!

3. Ensure losing is not an option

Although not all sales opportunities will necessarily be successful, a winning attitude to each opportunity is essential in fostering the appropriate commitment to the sale. “If you’re not in it to win, why be in it at all?”

4. Don’t make closing an isolated, final activity

Often portrayed as an isolated and feared final activity in any sales cycle, closing should actually be no more than a confirmation and formalisation of the scope, terms and conditions as mutually agreed during the initial proposal phase.

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