21 Ways to Overcome a Series of Sales Call Rejections

By Stacy Sacco | December 15, 2010

As every small business owner knows, a large percentage of their day is spent selling something — from initially convincing their family to support their plans to start a new business and, once started, selling their business idea to a lender to obtain a loan, or selling their products and services to prospective customers, and so on. Since the typical sales pipeline involves making a large number of presentations that result in only a few sales, the small business owner’s never-ending challenge is to stay motivated when facing so much rejection. Indeed, most mail houses are happy when they garner a 1% to 2% response from a mail campaign. Imagine 98% to 99% of your sales calls resulting in a “no” sale.

For over 12 years now, I’ve taught a Professional Selling course in the Entrepreneurial Studies Program at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management and every semester I ask my students to list 10 things they would do to overcome a series of negative sales calls. As noted below, their answers are entertaining as well as instructive for the small business owner.

When facing a conflict situation, there are two standard responses, either “flight” or “fight.” The students who favor a “flight” response suggested the following things to do when facing a series of negative sales calls:

  • Read the comics.
  • Take my dog for a long walk.
  • Eat chocolate.

Students who choose to fight their way through their failures suggested:

  • Keep trying and don’t give up on myself.
  • Work on a new, creative approach to make the next sale.
  • Find new prospects rather than dwell on past rejections.

Then there were the rationalists who would look for a logical explanation to their situation:

  • Realize that after “x” number of rejections, I will make a sale.
  • Rejections aren’t personal since they rejected my product or service because it didn’t meet their needs, not me…
  • I would remind myself that “when one door closes, another one opens.”

Another group of students said they would consider the situation a learning experience including:

  • Develop a script to follow every time I hear “no.”
  • Review my presentation in detail to see if there was something I could have changed to win the sale.

Some more novel ideas included:

  • Call my mom and tell her I need some cheering up.Play with a “stress ball” to release my frustrations before making my next sales call.
  • Draw a picture with crayons to remind myself to not take myself too seriously.
  • Make random phone calls and tell everyone who answers “no!”
  • Learn to love rejection!

Some of my favorite suggestions the students made, all of which are reflected in the more popular books on successful sales by Jeffrey Gitomer, Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar, included:

  • There’s an endless supply of opportunities so why get broken up over this situation?
  • Persistence overcomes resistance.
  • Don’t keep count of the no’s, but only the yes’s.
  • Send thank you notes to the prospects who said “no” to let them know I’m in it for the
  • What’s the problem? Selling really only begins when they say “no?”

So, who said teachers have all the answers?

About the Author


Stacy Sacco

Stacy Sacco is Regional Manager of WESST’s Rio Rancho office. He also teaches sales and marketing at UNM Anderson School of Management in both the UNM MBA program and entrepreneurial studies program; and he serves as one of 15 instructors in the SBA’s national Emerging 200 program for inner-city entrepreneurs.
Stacy has over 25 years experience in marketing management with Hyundai, Transamerica, Avco Financial Services, Kirtland Federal Credit Union and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. He has served as the President of both the New Mexico and Orange County Chapters of the American Marketing Association, publishes several lists including the New Mexico Directory of Professional Association, and hosts the annual New Mexico MARCOM Mixer which brings together over 350 members of the key marketing-related clubs statewide.

Stacy has been recognized as one of 100 Power Brokers and received the NMAMA’s Marketer of Excellence Award for his contribution to professionalism statewide. He earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Arizona.

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