It Isn’t Rejection

Robert Terson

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately for the launch of my book Selling Fearlessly and a word that keeps coming up in these interviews is “rejection,” or perhaps I should put it, “the fear of rejection.” How do you combat rejection? I keep being asked. Honestly, I hate that word—rejection. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t belong in any salesperson’s lexicon. So I’m going to give you Chapter 32 of my book, which is entitled Never Take it Personally.


Never Take It Personally

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” Michael Corleone in The Godfather

If you ask a non-salesperson why she says so adamantly that she wouldn’t sell to earn her living, more than likely she’ll say something like, “I couldn’t deal with all that rejection.” To a non-salesperson, a prospect’s “no” is seen as a harsh personal repudiation, a direct assault on her sensitive ego, a humiliation. A master salesperson is apt to roll her eyes at such a comment. As I said in Chapter 19, “Cold Calling,” it’s only business; a master salesperson never feels personally rejected.

A Numbers Game

I never took “no” personally. I took responsibility for it, but never personally, even when I sensed a prospect didn’t like me or something I said. No batter gets a hit every time up and no salesperson closes every prospect she approaches or presents to. Selling is a numbers game, a law-of-averages marathon. My father used to say, “You have to get the no’s out of the way, in order to get to the yes’s” That’s what a salesperson does. I celebrated victories and got over defeats as quickly as I could, usually in minutes, and then it was on to the next. Yogi Berra, famous for saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” just as easily could have added, “but when it’s over, it’s over.”

It’s a free country; everyone has a right to say no. To take it personally, to hang on to it for dear life, to keep replaying it over and over and over again is to surrender your power to someone who isn’t even a customer. Why would you do that? What possible benefit can it bring you? If you go to your next presentation with that kind of excess baggage strangling your concentration, you’re allowing a “no” to do double damage to you and your selling career.

Sacred Purpose

A salesperson must have skin as thick as a rhinoceros’s because prospects can be downright insulting at times. It should go in one ear and out the other. You’re there to make a sale, that’s all that matters; indulge in anything peripheral to that sacred purpose and you’re being self-destructive. I’ll talk more about this in Part IV, Chapter 42, “Killer Instinct.”

Never take it personally; it’s only business. When it’s over, it’s over. On to the next.


If you view it as rejection, it’s going to immobilize you, freeze you up, keep you from doing what you must do—picking up the telephone and calling people. You must reprogram this negative nonsense and turn it into a believing positive! Rejection? It’s nothing of the kind.

It’s only business.

Pick up the telephone and start calling people; and for heaven’s sake-enjoy yourself, have some fun while you’re doing it!