Don’t Take it Personally

By Theophan, Executive Sales Coach

Just because a prospect tells you no doesn’t mean they’re saying no to you. Being able to separate yourself from your role as a salesperson is a critical component of being consistent in building a successful book of business.

It was just before noon when I walked through the doors of the crowded deli in northwest Portland. The deli was obviously in the midst of the lunch rush as I made my way past the folks munching on their sandwiches. Fortunately there was no line; I must have arrived during a short lul. Diners made small talk as they ate and were oblivious to my presence. The lady behind the counter however, was well aware of the salesman making his way toward her. She knew my intent the moment I walked through the door. She’d seen my type many, many times before: dress shirt and tie, slacks and dress shoes. Walking briskly through the front door with a confident stride and a gleam in my eyes.

I thought I was flying under the radar – no briefcase or folder in my hands. My goal wasn’t to sign her up on the spot but simply to find a convenient time to come back to meet with her to explore which credit card processing company she was currently using and to find out if I could provide her with a superior level of customer service while offering her lower processing rates. Easy peasy.

I approached the counter, “Is the owner available,” I asked.

“I’m the owner,” she said.

“Oh, great,” I replied, “I’m Theophan with Transaction Solutions. We provide credit card processing services to companies in the Pacific Northwest.” I deftly pulled my business card out of my pocket and handed it to her across the counter. She looked at it and without missing a beat handed it back.

“No thanks. I don’t need your services,” she said with a very stern, uncompromising tone.

Have you ever seen a dog that’s been disciplined by its master? With my head down and my tail tucked neatly between my legs I made my way back toward the front door. It was quite possibly the longest walk I’d ever made in my entire life. I could feel her eyes on the back of my head as I made the 100 mile trek back from whence I’d come. I felt like everyone in the deli was staring at me as I shuffled out the front door.

A light, refreshing breeze blew past me as I stood outside the deli. I took a couple of deep breaths, and mentally brushed off the weighty beating of rejection I’d just suffered. I’d suffered this beating hundreds of times during my years as a salesperson but the initial rejection still hurts. After taking a moment for myself and realizing she was saying no to the service I was offering and not to me as a person, I looked to the left, realizing there was a coffee shop next door. I walked through the door of the coffee shop, making eye contact with the barista behind the counter…..

When a prospect tells us no they’re saying no to the salesperson standing before them. They’re not saying no to you as a person. Heck, if they knew you for who you are you could very well become good friends, going to watch the Timbers play soccer and maybe hang out at the Rose Festival or grab a drink together after work.

In closing, just remember, you’re a good person. There’s nothing wrong with you. The prospect said no to your product or service, not you.

I hope you’re having a great week so far. Good selling!

Theophan has been a professional coach since 2005 and has been in sales for more than twenty years. As an executive sales coach he helps executives, sales managers, sales teams, and individual salespeople overcome the challenges and obstacles that keep them from seeing explosive growth in their companies. He can be reached at or you can schedule an initial consultation with him by clicking HERE.