Warning! – Here comes the word you don’t want to hear

Here in New Zealand there is a word that is rarely spoken during Sales meetings.

It is not a rude word, nor is it an ambiguous word which is difficult to pronounce.

In fact, it slips off the tongue quite easily and is likely one of the first words that we learn as young children from our parents.

Salespeople fear hearing it from their customers and when they do, they will hide it from their colleagues out of shame.

The word is so powerful, that sales people will pretend to be its friend, much like the groupies around a school yard bully, egging the bully on towards their next victim, so as not have the wrath directed towards them.

Have you guessed what it is yet?


That’s right, these two little letters put together in that specific order strike fear into the heart of all salespeople.


Because we’re emotive, sensitive and fundamentally we are human beings before we are sales people.

This article is aimed at helping salespeople try and overcome that feeling of hearing the word, as having been a sales person for close to 18 years, I hold some experience of hearing it more than once and have learnt that I cannot stop feeling what I feel, but I can manage the way I respond to the feeling.

Let me start by telling you an anecdote about a ‘friend’ of mine, who we shall call ‘Karl’

An 18 year old Karl used to work part time at a market research agency in the UK, along with some of his mates.  During his shifts, he had to call a certain number of households trying to get them to complete a 20 minute survey.  Karl was not very good at this, as most of the people told Karl to “get f***ed”.  Karl used to get sad about being told to “get f***ed” (which I’ll simplify to a ‘no’ moving forward), so Karl decided to pretend to make calls, speak to people who weren’t really on the other end of the phone and fulfil his targets; all because he was afraid of hearing ‘no’.  After a few days Karl got called into a HR meeting by his team leader, who proceeded to play audio of Karl speaking to himself (recorded for training purposes).   Karl felt pretty embarrassed as he was escorted from the building, with his mates laughing loudly as he went.   

The moral of this story is that in Sales you cannot run away from the word ‘no’, because it will always find you.

As I…oops I meant Karl found out!

All sales people will have to face the feeling generated by the word ‘no’; the feeling we commonly label as ‘fear of rejection’.

Good sales people still experience the same feeling as everyone else and it still disappoints them to hear it, but they do not get debilitated by hearing it and instead challenge themselves to persevere.

Poor sales people shy away from situations where they have a higher probability to hear the word, because they get debilitated by hearing it and it has them making their excuses and looking for the next role on Seek.

Here comes the cliche; I manage a rejection, by labelling it as an opportunity to learn how to overcome that objection in the future, not as a reflection of my personal ability.

Hear me out before you lose interest.

Of course I feel gutted hearing it, I’d be lying otherwise, but I accept that I am not a sales god.

Sales is about providing a solution and like other professions that involve trying to diagnose a problem such as Doctors or IT Technicians, it is a process of elimination from the experiences and knowledge that they’ve learnt from in the past.

Other professions don’t just stop trying to solve the problem at the first hurdle they come across.

They learn each time they tackle a new problem and the expectation they have on themselves and others have on them, isn’t that they will always get it right first time.

I don’t shy away from making the next business development call, or organising the next client meeting, just because I didn’t convert the customer the last time I tried.

That’s why you too should stop labelling an unconverted customer as a ‘failure’, as you will never convert every customer, just like every other profession doesn’t get it right first time.

Instead label it as an ‘opportunity’ to understand, preempt and eliminate an objection that could come up again in the future.

High expectations of oneself are perfect for Sales, unrealistic expectations are not.

I cannot be expected to know it all, but I can be expected to learn from it all – Kalv Hayer 2018 (whilst sitting on his sofa drinking a tasteless green tea)

For those of you who regularly read my articles, I have to apologise as I will only be posting them every fortnight from now on, as opposed to weekly.

The reason is that I am trying to balance new business development requirements, client delivery commitments and all the other aspects of being a business owner, with carving out time to share my voice with you all.

Right now, I can only do this by freeing up my finger tapping time.

For those of you who are absolutely gutted about this (I’m sure there’s at least one of you out there), feel free to read my previous catalogue of articles here.

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