When I first started out in the family business back in 2012, I was super excited about looking for new clients to help my family make money and expand. I thought it was going to be a cakewalk. After all, make some calls here and there. Get some clients. Make money. And boom, my business will be on the fast track towards significant growth before you know it!
Well, it’s safe to say that that expectation didn’t come out exactly as planned. I’d say I’ve cold called hundreds, if not thousands, of times to customers over this past decade. To different people, to different companies, across different countries, and different cultures. And let’s just say that 99.9% of them have been outright rejection in some form or manner.
When I say rejection, I don’t mean that they completely hang up on me at the drop of a hat. It just means that the potential project didn’t go commercial, and we didn’t make any money off of the project as a business. There are so many factors that come with operating a successful project.
For example, the customer has to be okay with testing our product. Then, it has to work in their formulation, which is proprietary and different across every company. Then, they have to have a successful marketing of the product so that they can generate sales for their customers on their end. And from there on out, you have to hope that there are no other external factors that can tank the project, like inflation, recession, government policies, or how about a worldwide pandemic!
There are just so many factors that are dependent on success. And cold calling customers is the first step that I need to take. These days, I still cold call customer, because it is a necessary step for the opportunity to find suitable business partners. But I now come with the expectation that most of these calls will result in eventual failure – whether it be immediate or some time down the road.
But I continue to call. I continue to put myself out there. I continue to send out feeler emails. I continue to look for potential opportunities. Because for me, that’s what running a business is all about. And there is a sense of excitement that comes with going into the unknown and calling a completely new contact.
I guess cold calling can be a metaphor for life as well. How most things in life are out of your control. And quite frankly, the vast majority of things will simply not go your way. You will not be able to sell to every single customer. Not every customer will enjoy talking to you. You will make some mistakes along the way that will cause you to lose the customer. And external factors out of your control could also affect parts of your business. It’s kind of a slippery slope. And rejection is a big part of sales.
Life is filled with rejection for the average person. It will be filled with dissatisfaction and struggles and challenges and agitation and anxieties from tons of external stressors. We are only human. We can’t control everything. And most things in life will not go our way, no matter how hard we try. It’s important to accept loss and defeat and failure and all the supposedly negative stuff that comes thrown our way. Because that’s how it is.
And I say this not with a pessimistic attitude. After all, there are many things that we can learn from negative experiences as well. It can help improve our mental fortitude. We become stronger in dealing with discomfort and living with it. We become more accepting and at peace with ourselves because at the end of the day, we can only do what we can do. And we are also perhaps more grateful when things do go our way every once in a while.
So, rejection itself is not inherently bad. It is a snapshot of life. And we will get over it hopefully eventually. I don’t take rejection in business that personally. I accept it and I simply move on to search for the next opportunity. Having said that, I do realize that it is not as easy as that for some people. Especially if the loss or rejection is something more serious, like the death of a loved one, or the loss of a partner, or a decline in overall health.
It’s definitely easier said than done to just move on. But I think at some point we just have to accept that rejection and failure will happen to us all. Even to the best of us. Even to billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. It’s important during those times to gain some perspective and to push thru the discomfort. To remind yourself that this discomfort is not who you truly are as a person. You are more than your feelings of rejection. You are more than your emotions. You are more than your mind. You are beautiful in every single possible way.
So, if you’re in sales and you need to cold call potential customers, be okay with rejection. It comes for us all. And we are all the better because of it.