The Hand Talks

Dealing with rejection in new business

by The Hand

When it comes to agency new business, we can be very focused on getting a ‘yes’. It’s our whole reason to engage and what we put all our energy into.

And so, being told ‘no’ is never easy. No one out there actually likes rejection. In fact, we’re programmed as humans to fear it, even if it does help us to learn.

But it’s a simple truth that, like any form of sales, agency new business is filled with opposition and rejection. Whether it’s in prospecting, pitching, submitting proposals or in chemistry meetings, there’s always the potential of being told ‘no’, even after we’ve invested time, effort and energy into the process.

So, how do we protect ourselves from it?

The simple answer is, we can’t. But what we can do is equip ourselves to handle it better and grow, as a result.

Here are our top tips:

  • Have some objection handling positions in your back pocket; sometimes you’re told ‘no’ simply because the person isn’t ready to have a conversation at that particular moment. Or they might have made some incorrect assumptions about your agency. Being able to articulate clearly and quickly what the value you bring is, might just help them think differently.
  • Have the courage to ask and take time to understand ‘why’ it’s a no; often we want to just walk away (and hide under a stone) after being rejected. But understanding ‘why’ can turn this into a learning experience. Maybe they felt another agency had more experience in that particular area? Or maybe it was a price issue? Whatever the reason, knowing and understanding this will help you in your next new business interaction.
  • Once you’ve processed ‘why’, then draw a line under it emotionally; sometimes we let rejection slow us down. You were told ‘no’ on the phone and so you don’t want to make any more calls. Fear wins. Put it to bed and don’t let it paralyse you. Move on.
  • Focus your time on those who will say yes; every time you get a rejection, it helps build a clearer picture of who your ideal client is. Rather than focusing on the ones who’ll say no, make sure you’re spending time refining your pitch to those who will want to work with you.

Rejection can feel brutal. But it doesn’t have to win. Confront it head on, accept it, learn from it and you’ll be all the stronger for it.