Rejection is part of doing business in a highly competitive world. If you’re offering a product or service that others are offering, it’s obvious that there can be only one… winner.
But sometimes it’s easy to take rejection personally, especially if you’re a solopreneur. You don’t have the luxury of a sales team who takes the blows for you. You ARE your own sales team.
It’s up to you to uncover opportunities and go after them. Prospecting is up to you as well as follow-up. The challenge most solopreneurs have, especially when first starting their business, is balancing marketing their business while still completing client work and of course, administrative tasks.
Most solopreneurs do not respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal) the same way as a company. If anything, you may be asked for a quote or a proposal, but the process is not nearly as intricate and complex as if it would be for a large organization (which is a really good thing).
Still, how do you handle things when it’s obvious you didn’t get the business?
Here are a few tips:
Keep your goal clearly in mind
You started your own business for a reason and it’s not just about the money. It could be that you wanted the freedom to be with your kids, the ability to work from anywhere in the world, or the opportunity to volunteer more at your favorite charity. Whatever it is, you need to create a visual reminder of it and keep it near your desk.
My goal is to someday own an Airstream and travel across the country with my husband. We were able to visit the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio and I collected plenty of marketing brochures. I have a small Airstream booklet that is front and center on my desk. It reminds me that everything I do for my business is for that ultimate goal. Make yours just as clear and obvious. It will help you when you hit the occasional bump in the road.
Don’t take it personally
I know, I know. This is a tough one. I recently had an experience where I saw a prospect at a networking event and he deliberately avoided me. I had sent him a follow-up email after our initial meeting where he had expressed interest in my services. I then mailed a few samples to him and follow up with a voicemail and email.
From all of those contacts, I received no response. And then I saw him at the networking event.
It’s tempting at that moment to feel like the unwanted kid on the playground who nobody wants to play with, but don’t go there. You are a professional and you need to remember the BANT acronym: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline. My prospect had the authority and need, but sounded iffy on the budget. Realize that when your quote or proposal isn’t accepted, there’s a very good chance that one of those areas was the reason.
Remember the good stuff
Sometimes we can zero in on that lost sale and forget about the good that’s happening each day. My husband and I have had the tradition of toasting each other every night after dinner with a glass of wine. We recently added another part to it. We now say three things we’ve been grateful for that day. Yes, we’ve had some repeats, but it’s caused each of us to be appreciative of even the small things in life.
You have much to be thankful for, it’s just a matter of focusing on that instead of the rejection. Take time to celebrate your wins, even if they seem small.
And especially stop and celebrate those big wins! Maybe you were recognized on Twitter by an admired virtual mentor, or you received a referral from an unexpected source.
This is when having a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, can be priceless. They’ve dealt with the same issues regarding sales, so take advantage of their hard-won wisdom. My good friend Robin gave me a great reminder: “You don’t have to chase after anyone.”
And it’s true. There are so many businesses out there who need what you have to offer, that it’s simply a waste of time to stay stuck in self-recrimination. Learn from the experience and move on. You’re better prepared for “the next time!”
Rejection may be inevitable, but you can overcome it. Take the attitude that I did when I was single and dating around. I knew that every guy who wasn’t “The One” was bringing me one step closer to the guy who would be. And when I met my husband, it made every bit of that waiting worth it.
Great clients are out there. You just need to get through the “not-quite-the-right-fit” ones to reach them. Good luck!