Why No Doesn’t Always Mean No: How to Manage Rejection


Dealing with rejection is a reality in sales and marketing. Fortunately, rejection isn’t always negative. It provides professionals with an opportunity to set themselves apart from the crowd. They can analyze their roles as knowledgeable resources, use the time to learn more about their prospects and themselves and create a competitive edge to help them with future success. Help your sales and marketing personnel better respond to no by considering the underlying meaning, motivation and reasons why these responses occur.

Rejection Reasons: Initial Contact

There are two main points during the sales process where a no thank-you response occurs. The first is at the beginning, when the marketing team makes initial contact with potential customers. By using customer-centric messaging, the right marketing channels and consistency of outreach, marketers seek to identify those who have a need, interest and readiness to enter into a dialogue with them. On this continuum, a no rejection takes four forms:

  1. No need. The prospect is currently using a competitor’s product or service. This, however, doesn’t mean that the prospect will always be happy with that product or service. This response also can mean the prospect hasn’t identified a problem/challenge that would require a need to buy.
  2. Not now. The product or service is not a priority at this time.
  3. No budget. The prospect doesn’t have money to fund a purchase.
  4. Lack of response. This can be a knee-jerk reaction to any form of outbound marketing. In this case, the prospect doesn’t reply, return a call or provide any insight or information to the marketing team. In this scenario, the marketing team might need to reevaluate the quality of the list, the messaging, the offer or the channel being used.

How marketers respond to these scenarios is important. Be polite, professional and acknowledge that business priorities and conditions change frequently. Determine how and when to follow up and thank the prospect for his or her time.

Rejection Reasons: During the Buying Cycle

The second point where rejection occurs is after the marketing department turns a lead over to the sales team. Here are five reasons a no response can occur during the buying cycle:

  1. A failure to develop rapport. When the prospect and the salesperson do not make a personal connection, it is difficult to move the sale forward. The salesperson’s job is to nurture trust and demonstrate that he or she is likeable.
  2. A failure to reinforce the prospect’s need. This occurs when the salesperson, after trying to uncover a meaningful and real need, is unsuccessful. The prospect agreed to a conversation or meeting, but upon further exploration, both parties mutually decide not to move forward. While this might seem like a rejection, it isn’t. It just means the opportunity doesn’t exist yet.
  3. A failure to put the seller’s company in a positive light. Here, the prospect has some fears or misgivings about the company’s reputation, brand or ability to deliver on the salesperson’s promises. In this case, a prospect likely will choose a competitor.
  4. A failure to demonstrate value. When a prospect is making a buying decision about a product or service, it is the salesperson’s job to create a compelling reason to make a purchase. In addition to explaining features, highlight the benefits of making the purchase. Effective salespeople ask the right questions while answering the question, “What will it (the purchase) do for me?” in a meaningful way.
  5. A failure to close the sale. When prospects show an interest and a need, some salespeople simply don’t ask for the order. They don’t address the investment or the time to buy. Sometimes this occurs due to lack of training or simply fear of rejection.

Learn From No


In sales and in marketing, it’s crucial to understand that no doesn’t always indicate the end of the relationship. Every rejection is a chance to explore and uncover new opportunities. Think about other solutions to the prospects’ problems and don’t be afraid to ask what it would take to turn the answer into a yes. Review every interaction and presentation and use this information to keep moving forward with a new plan. Every no gets you one step closer to a yes. Expect rejection and be prepared to hear it frequently. By harnessing the power of the no, you can use it to propel yourself past the competition and into a successful future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *