JIA JIANG KNOCKED ON A STRANGER’S DOOR, and asked to play soccer in their backyard. Another day he asked a police officer if he could drive his patrol car. And on a flight, Jia Jiang asked the flight attendant whether he could give the safety announcement.
Jia Jiang is not crazy. In fact, these unusual requests were part of his own rejection therapy; to overcome the fear of ‘no’. Perhaps what’s more surprising is that he received a ‘yes’ to many of his bizarre requests. A ‘yes’ to playing in a stranger’s backyard. A ‘yes’ to driving a patrol car, and a ‘yes’ for giving the safety announcement on a commuter flight. Don’t believe me? Watch Jia Jiang’s account on TEDx Austin (Youku link). Oh, and he went as far as asking for rejection over 100 days!
Jia Jiang has turned rejection into a game; a game based on the psychotherapeutic technique known as ‘Flooding’. Flooding helps rid fears and phobias by highlighting their irrationality. The drawback is that it can also be traumatic, since it bombards the senses, eliciting the fight-or-flight response – again, and again, and again. Of course, this isn’t such a bad thing, in hindsight. Remember your first presentation in front of a class, asking a girl or boy out on a date, or attending your first job interview. Where would you be today without enduring those painful experiences? Unmarried and unemployed, probably.
But it’s one thing to cope with life’s rejections, it’s another thing to actively seek rejection. And yet that’s what sales professionals do everyday.
But it’s one thing to cope with life’s rejections, it’s another thing to actively seek rejection. And yet that’s what sales professionals do everyday. For every cold call, tender submission, or verbal request for business, a salesperson is setting themselves up to be rejected. Few jobs are as emotionally challenging. Which leads me to a number of strategies that can help any salesperson overcome the fear of rejection.
Be rational about your irrationality
A fear of the unknown is perfectly normal, but also completely irrational in the modern age. If we didn’t try new things we wouldn’t travel, upgrade our mobile phone, or try Indian food. This irrationality is even more detrimental when working in the field of sales, where a clear unique selling proposition, or USP, niche markets, and the increasing attractiveness of the ‘long tail‘, means that most people will not need, nor buy, your product or service.
For example, the company delivering nappies sold to Amazon.com for $545 million US dollars!
The bigger you are, the bigger the rejection
As Jia Jiang reminds us, US President, Barrack Obama, got 51% of the vote, which means that he was rejected by roughly 61 million Americans who didn’t provide their support. Puts that recent failed cold-call into perspective, right? In short, success doesn’t mean less rejection, but the opportunity for even more. Sorry, what is inevitable isn’t just death, taxes but also rejection. Get over it!
Focus on the activity, not the result
Tough words. I know. So if you are a glass half-full kind of salesperson, and like to focus on the positives, remove rejection from the equation all together. Sales guru, Brian Tracy, calls this the 100 Calls Method. ClarkMorgan uses Checking. Both focus on the the activity of communicating with your client, and not the result of ‘closing the deal’. As a consequence of this strategy there are two direct benefits:
1. The salesperson has a reduced fear of rejection, because their line manager is focusing on the fact that they are making the calls, which they have 100% control over, and
2. The prospective clients are going to be thinking more about the salesperson, because of the regular reminders. And we know that clients can only buy when they are thinking about the product or service in the first place. Mmmm. Pizza cones.
The concept ‘Checking’, isn’t new. Its originals stem from author and founder of the School of Thinking, Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, who wrote about the concept in his 1990 book, New Sell: the Heresy of Newsell. We, at ClarkMorgan, just go a step further and quantify Checks. For example, an email is 1 point, a phone call is 5, a networking event meeting is 15, and a face-to-face meeting is 20.
…the physical act of putting pen to paper is under the complete control of the client.
This focus on the activity also removes much of the fear of rejection, because a salesperson has 100% control over making a phone call, or writing an email, but they don’t have any control over a client signing a contract. Sure, a salesperson can move the client closer to that decision, but the physical act of putting pen to paper is under the complete control of the client.
In sales, the mantra, ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ is absolutely true with respect to rejection. Jia Jiang’s story of rejection seeking may be unusual, but it is also an example of his journey to mindfulness and experiencing life fully. And after all, isn’t that why we sell in the first place? To gain an income that can let us explore the world as we wish. Jia Jiang is just reminding us that we can start that journey now, rather than later. All it takes is a little heart in your mouth and butterflies in your stomach and a competitive desire to seek a ‘no’.