Handling Rejection in Sales: When “No” Is a Good Thing

Just like early in my dating life—before I was a happily married many with three gorgeous children—I learned to appreciate rejection in sales.

As a sales professional, the word “no” can be the best thing you hear. Let’s face it, our biggest commodity in sales is time, and spending time trying to close a deal that will never happen is a fruitless labor. It’s better to know up front that the sale isn’t going to happen, so you can spend time closing more sales somewhere else.

A rejection doesn’t mean the sale is dead. And “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no.” It could mean “no,” “maybe” or “not now.”

Many young sales professionals take the word “no” too personally and get easily discouraged. Here’s how you can step back and analyze your situation.


One of the best sales analogies I have heard and still use today was by a guy named Wayne. Wayne was the director of enterprise sales for a great software company in Canada. This savvy sales vet once said, “I play sales like I play poker, I am all early! In poker, I hate playing for four or five hours only to walk away a loser. The same goes for sales. I don’t want to spend weeks or months pushing a sale that was never going to close in the first place.”

In talking with Wayne, he explained that a sales person should really know what his product and/or service can do and what its limitations are. If one of the limitations are a top priority for your prospect, you want to know that on (or as close to) the first call as you can so you can move on to a more promising opportunity. The most effective sellers don’t waste time with non-buyers.


With many sales opportunities, receiving a “no” typically doesn’t mean “never” … it just means “not now.” There have been plenty of times in my life when I have been told “no”—just ask my wife Rachael—only to eventually get the sale.

Acquirent CEO Joe Flanagan calls it “hanging around the rim.” Being a basketball player for Northwestern back in the day, he equates it to getting a rebound off a missed shot.

A number of deals Acquirent has won initially went with another vendor or they were “happy” with their current situation. If you truly believe that the prospect can benefit from your product and/or services, then be persistent and your opportunity will come!

Happy selling!