Overcoming the Fear of Rejection


Extracted from the book “Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale” by Peter Collins

This FEAR (the FEAR OF REJECTION) is perhaps the HARDEST to detect in a salesperson  –  but by far, the EASIEST to correct.  Yet far too many salespeople tend to take rejection personally.  This type of (so called) rejection stems from prospect’s and can include as diverse a range of easily solved problems as:

  • “I can’t afford it”
  • “Your price is too high”
  • “Your product is overpriced”
  • “Your competitor has a better product”
  • “I don’t think the colour will match”
  • “I’ll pay too much interest” . . . and so on.

To any other salesperson, these are normal objections, and are easily answered.  But to someone who has begun to take rejection personally, they become an affront that cannot be answered easily.  This personal rejection mainly rears its ugly head when these salespeople experience problems with their closing rates:

  • When their attitude changes from one of “I can” – to one of, “I’m not sure”.
  • When life offers them a lemon – and they simply suck on it.

In other words, personal problems enter into and prioritise themselves in the individual’s workplace performance.  Here too, the solution is simple.  What the prospect is rejecting is not the salesperson, but the offer.  In fact, most times, the prospect is not even rejecting the product or service being sold.  Again, the only thing that is being rejected is the offer.  One thing the salesperson can learn from this encounter is that the prospect is REALLY saying “GIVE ME MORE INFORMATION ON HOW I CAN BUY FROM YOU.” . . . “IF YOU SELL ME PROPERLY,  CHANCES ARE I WILL BUY – BUT SELL ME PROPERLY FIRST“.  But if the attitude is wrong, the salesperson doesn’t hear what the prospect means – the salesperson only hears what the prospect says.


Many years ago I was taught a mnemonic.  Fear stands for:-

                        False Evidence Appearing Real  =  FEAR

I don’t know where it came from, but I know it’s true.  Fear should never set-in in selling.

The salesperson is the expert for that product or service.  The salesperson has more expertise, more experience, more knowledge and better back-up than any prospect.

Apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, fright, horror and terror are some of the by-products FEAR can instil.  The salesperson should realise that most good selling presentations are designed around FEAR.  In fact, FEAR sells far better than any other sales structure or process available to the salesperson today.  If the salesperson learns to put this knowledge into the right perspective, they will  benefit  from FEAR.

The prospect should be made to experience FEAR during the presentation.

  • The FEAR of what will happen if he or she doesn’t own your product
  • The FEAR of what the competition will do left to their own devises
  • The FEAR of the additional cost of outdated technology vs new technology savings
  • The FEAR of losing a competitive edge in a volatile market

Good salesmanship always builds an element of FEAR (the “what if”) into a cleverly presented presentation.  Without it, the prospect will most probably never be challenged to either look at new technology or a at more innovative and better ways of doing what they are now doing.  FEAR should be one of the most highly respected and used sales tools in the hands of the salesperson.    

FEAR should be embraced – it should never be FEARED.             


By now you would have noticed that I have dwelt more on this one issue than perhaps any other book on selling techniques written over the past fifty years.  The reason is simple – I believe until this one area is better understood and acted upon by the selling profession in general – sales performances overall will continue to fall as they have over the past ten years or so – while the income gap between the average salesperson and the professional superseller will widen even more.


In the next few pages you will realise how wide that income gap has become.  But remember, income is related to performance and results.  Besides, those professional supersellers in the top 10% of all sales performers around the world generally work on a commission basis only.  It’s their choice – not an option given to them.  But the main reason why I have chosen to lead with FEAR as a major problem is because it is just that – A MAJOR PROBLEM.

So let’s look at some of the side issues associated to FEAR.


So then, how big do I believe this problem to be?  After around 30 years of sales (and more than 20 years of management), I am convinced that this is perhaps the greatest ONE PROBLEM AREA facing the modern salesforce in Australia today.  The costs associated with call reluctance are enormous, to say the least.  Not only is it bigger and more wide-spread than most executives will admit to, but statistically it remains the main reason for a high turnover in any salesforce.  But the most staggering part of the research I have carried out personally, with some hundreds of my colleagues, employees and salespeople who have called on me in the course of business over the past few years, is that in excess of 95% of all those questioned admitted that they too suffered call reluctance on a regular basis.  What’s more, most confided that they were aware their colleagues were also concerned by this one issue.

After studying the reasons for call reluctance, anxiety and a host of other ailments amongst salespeople for over 15 years, George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson (co-authors of the Psychology of Selling) wrote this article titled, “Fear in Performance”. 

“In 1986, sales people struggling with call reluctance averaged $40,000 in commission per year while those who had overcome the problem averaged over $200,000, despite the fact that both groups were essentially equal in talent, ability, motivation, intelligence, preparation and experience.  To add insult to injury, the call-reluctant group had invested far more time and money in learning what to do.  They were just emotionally unable to allow themselves to apply what they knew.”

Statistics compiled by sales experts tell us that 84% of all salespeople suffer call reluctance to some degree.

The following pages explain and provide answers to some of the most common reasons for call reluctance amongst salespeople today.


This is not just the number one reason for call reluctance, but also the number one indication that a problem is developing.  Procrastination draws to it non-essential tasks.  The more time these tasks take, the more productive time can be spent avoiding facing the client.

The Thesaurus provides these definitives to procrastination – hesitating, dawdling, delaying, loitering, waiting and lagging.  Dr Michael E. Bernard, author of “Procrastinate Later”, tells us

“Do not be afraid of something that might not work out, but be confident of your ability to succeed.  And if you approach your work replaying past experiences that were not successful, and your dialogue is filled with negative stuff such as “I’ll never be able to do this; I’m hopeless at this; this is too hard, I shouldn’t have to do it; this is unbearable”, then what will be your chances when the going gets tough?”

Famous American philosopher Elbert Hubbard, put it a little better when he said “The greatest mistake you can make is to be afraid of making one.”  But perhaps the best solution to procrastination I have ever heard came from long-time friend and former Managing Director of mine, John Auciello.  John runs Australia’s largest direct sales in-home cookware company.

“The best way I know to overcome procrastination is to book as many presentation calls as you can a day, every day – you will become too busy to think of anything else … In no time your confidence level will rise and rebuild your enthusiasm in yourself and your product – it’s your enthusiasm that gives you results.   And if you’re making money, you don’t procrastinate.”


This shows up when the salesperson loses the ability to understand that the selling process is a transference of feeling.  A high degree of confidence transfers high enthusiasm.  Low enthusiasm transfers doubtBut remember, prospect’s want what already appears to be successful, and they will buy what they want.

If, for whatever reason, the salesperson does not radiate confidence, the same person will radiate doubt in the mind of the prospect – a worrisome combination on any call to an existing client, but a deadly poison on a first call to a prospect.

Perhaps the best way to regain confidence is to remind yourself of the times you were successful.  Simply let your “minds eye” wander back to a successful sale; an award;  an achievement; a good win at your favourite sport; the support your family gives you or any other form of recognition for a job well done.  Then focus your thoughts and sense the sight, smell, touch of your successes.

Once this is accomplished, remind yourself that no matter how successful, powerful or wealthy your prospect may be, he (or she) makes mistakes just like you and I do.

No one can be a success 100% of the time.  The road to the top is always littered with mistakes, obstacles and hurts.  And the higher the position, the more mistakes, obstacles and hurts these people had to overcome.  The minute you realise your prospect is human, (just like you are) and is subject to the same hurts (you are), you are less likely to be intimidated.


This one FEAR symptom I have been told is attributed to more executive burn-out than just about any other.  It has no boundaries in a working environment, and is credited with being able to creep up on the most enthusiastic individual, without even those close to them being able to pick the symptoms – until it is too late.

These people are easy to pick.  They talk about the good results of their peers as being “on a role”, having “more luck”, “more talent” and so on.

  • They gossip – “Have you heard what so and so did today.”
  • They listen to other peoples gossipthen add to it.
  • They put down “I couldn’t sell that way, it’s too pushy.”
  • They lose focus “The company expects me to do too much.” 
  • They complain“I don’t think my territory is as good as hers is.” and 
  • They look for excusesrather than getting on with the job.

Whereas those with a healthy self image understand that Results ALWAYS Follow effort.  They love to sell, and love to be face to face with prospect’s.

In his book titled “Ziglar on Selling”, Zig Ziglar sheds light to this problem this way.

“My friend Fred Smith, whom I so highly regard, says even those people who are mean, rude, ugly and nasty to you are not that way because they want to hurt you, but because they are hurting.  Had I understood this concept in my early years, my production would have been considerably higher and a great deal more stable.  Additionally, my self-image would not have taken the beating it did.”


This is perhaps the least understood aspect of FEAR.  It is not pressure applied onto the salesperson by the management or by peers – it is pressure applied by the salesperson themselves . . . onto themselves. Instead of accepting targets, budgets, limits, on-going training and so on, the salesperson keeps asking how will I ever reach this budget; there’s not enough time; the training is taking up too much of my time …. This type of pressure causes a distortion of the truth.

Once the salesperson begins to realise that he or she is the navigator of his or her own destiny, and that decisions made today will govern what tomorrow will bring, targets, budgets, limits and on-going training take on a new perspective.

The most wonderful part of anyone’s life, is that LIFE is an accomplished teacher.  The things you tend to avoid today have a habit of returning on as many tomorrows as you ask them to.  On the other hand, if you learn to master your problems, new ones will always take the place of the old ones.

Dr Norman Vincent Peale actually prays that the Lord will bring him new problems each day of his life by asking “What’s the matter Lord, don’t you trust me anymore?  Give me some problems!”  That way, life no longer offers any new surprises.    And that’s not bad for a man in his 80’s.



In essence, Closing is not a series of magic formulas that get the customer to want to buy, but to simply make the customer aware he or she has a problem if they do not buy your strategically planned and effectively presented SOLUTION to that problemAnd Closing should definitely not be FEARED, but welcomed by the seller.  On the other hand, the prospect should be presented in such a way that they should be FEARFUL OF NOT BUYING from the seller – not the other way around.

If the sales presentation has been effective, closing the sale is nothing more than simply:

  • Getting the details down on paper,
  • Obtaining a signature,
  • Exchanging a product or service for a sum of money,
  • or the promise to pay a sum of money on delivery, or even at a future date.

So then, what is the best way to get these final details settled?  Well, that too is simple.

Your prospect’s should be asked a series of well-planned questions specifically designed to promote a feeling of ownership – the prospect’s ownership.


This book details over fifty separate closing techniques, in addition to:

How to recognise buying signals which are either verbal or non-verbal

  • Statements that create buying appeal 
  • How to recognise dangerous moments in closing
  • How to find the prospect’s hot button and act upon it
  • Key words and phrases to improve closing
  • How and when to use loaded closing questions 
  • The real definition of closing the sale
  • And above all, a reminder that the sale is not closed until it is paid for, or, in other words, it is not the customer’s property in his eyes until he or she physically owns it.

Then as you work through your book, you will find that you will gradually develop a new idea or hunch on how you can better close your next sale from the many formulas and principles presented.

Extracted from the Book “Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale” by Peter Collins and available for purchase at a special price of $15.00 and downloadable in PDF Format.

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