Commentary By Craig Orraj, Head of Business Insurance Claims for Farmers Insurance®

It's almost an absolute certainty that throughout the course of your career, at one time or another, you will experience setbacks, some minor, some major. History is littered with stories of highly successful people who triumphed over early failures. Yet time and time again, when things don't go our way we self-sabotage and fall further down the rabbit hole of rejection. We don't get back up on the horse out of fear.

What we don't seem to realize is that failure and rejection are common, even for those at the pinnacle of success. But too many of us don't know how to use failure as fuel. We hear over and over again that we need to give ourselves freedom to fail, but how does that come to life? What are our action items? What's the secret to turning setbacks into success?

Here are four tips you can put into practice today:

1. Expect rejection

As we've seen, rejection and failure are a part of life. Be prepared for rejection; forewarned is forearmed - and the rejection won't hurt as much if you've prepared yourself for it.

2. Stop and listen

Too often we're quick to take rejection personally. That's only natural, but if you don't move on from there, you'll never succeed. I recommend viewing rejection as merely a challenge to your thought processes. That way you're not being rejected, it's just that your thinking is being challenged.

That in turn helps you to listen to and understand the reasons for the rejection, whether you're recruiting some talent, making a sales call, or pitching to investors. It may be that there is a factual misunderstanding. Often you can do a little research, bounce some ideas off your colleagues and quickly return with a proposal that is better-suited to that prospect.

3. Learn from it

What if they understand you perfectly, and they still reject you? In this case, it's important to assume best intentions on their part. Most likely they're not rejecting you because they dislike you personally. In fact, legendary salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar categorized sales rejections into five types: No need, no money, no urgency, no desire, no trust.

And once you know which type of rejection you're experiencing, you can address it in appropriate ways.

If you're a small business just getting off the ground, it's especially important to be constructive. It can help you hone your product or service, narrow your market niche, or perhaps even discover a new need in the market.

4. Try a mental trick

One way salespeople cope with rejection is to turn a negative into a positive. They do this by knowing the odds of success. It helps to realize that every 100 cold calls, for example, will produce five or six hot prospects and that one or two of those will become a sale.

This turns success into a numbers game: Make enough calls, and you'll make enough sales. This way every rejection becomes just another step on the road to achieving a sale. That is, rejection now means progression, not regression.

If you're a small businessperson, sales is a primary responsibility, so track your efforts and your successes so that you can know the numbers that will tell you how much effort is needed to produce a win.

Sales can be daunting, especially for those running or working for a small business or startup. The stakes of failure and rejection seem heightened in what can feel like an "all-or-nothing" prospect each morning. Cut yourself some slack, know the odds, learn from your mistakes and move forward. The results may shock you.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
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