by Cheryl Bezuidenhout | Featured Contributor
It’s just business
Rejections are part of the business landscape, and as an entrepreneur, you experience them more often than you’d like. They come in all forms – from calls that aren’t returned, job quotes that are not accepted, proposals that are kicked out and, the worst one, unpaid invoices. It seems a major part of being in business is developing a toughness that helps you deal with the constant barrage of rejections. Toughness is one thing that is essential to surviving in a world full of negative feedback. I’m going to give you some tips to take the sting out of your rejections and put a positive spin on even the worst of them.
1. Build relationships:
Develop a close, working relationship with your contact person at a client’s business, or directly with your client, themselves. This relationship is key to making future rejections hurt a little less. When a contact knows you, they are less inclined to treat you with impersonal indifference. Our contacts are our business’s treasures. Every relationship should be nurtured to reap the benefits of a deeper connection. Get to know your contact as a person – who they are when they’re not in their work role. Are they a parent, grandparent, do they like music, etc.? These nuggets of information help you to interact thoughtfully with them, and let them know you value them enough to know who they are. Offer something of yourself in exchange, so it becomes a mutual experience. At least, if they have to let you down, it will be like getting bad news from a friend.
2. Learn from your mistakes:
For each rejection, try and establish exactly what the cause was. As an author, rejections from publishers are, almost always about how the publisher views a work in relation to their stable of books and authors. They examine if your book is a good fit for their business, how hard it will be to put it to market and what return on investment they can reasonably expect. Their justifications are seldom based on personal preference, but it’s easy to think that they just don’t like the book. What’s needed here is a change of perspective and a little understanding of the landscape from the publisher’s point of view. The same can be said for most business interactions – if the product or service is not a good fit for the client, it is up to you, as the vendor, to try to understand their point of view. It is incredibly helpful to do follow-up phone calls or emails if it’s a, potentially, important account. Learning about what needs improvement helps advance our understanding of what we offer.
Once you have a bigger picture of what is causing your products or services to be rejected, take a good look at what you can do to improve what you offer. Is the product too expensive? Does the manufacturing process not fit in with a client’s sustainability requirements? Does the service contract require traveling you aren’t able to do? There are always reasons for a rejection. Getting to the bottom of those reasons allows you to innovate solutions that will help you with future proposals to those clients. In fact, your commitment to improving your product or service, in order to meet their requirements, may turn that ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’, if you stick with it and show a willingness to innovate and adapt.
4. Walk away:
When business relationships become acrimonious, it can be increasingly difficult to get work to be approved. The tensions between you and your client will need to be resolved in a face-to-face discussion, but if this still doesn’t resolve the problems (eg. unpaid invoices, consistently late on delivery of service, etc.), you may have no option but to walk away. Severing business relationships is difficult, and wrought with unseen perils. Many businesses in a community will belong to a chamber of commerce, or other business association, or have a ratings systems that allows someone the opportunity to have an impact on some of your other business relationships. Going back to my first point of building relationships, it is a lot easier to sever ties with a client if your businesses have a good relationship. Try to maintain a mutual respect for each other, and never bad-mouth your clients to any of your business contacts. If you have to end a business relationship, be sure to do it on good terms with honesty and respect.
Turn rejection around
I hope the tips I’ve suggested above help you to turn your business rejections around. Sure, there will be days when a rejection, or six, will leave you reeling, but it is how you process that rejection that will make it a business ‘win’ for you. When you can truly see the value in all your interactions – the good, the bad and the ugly! – you’ll realize you are capable of turning it all into something that empowers you to build an even better business.