It's been a while since I sat in the new business development seat. When I started Legion in 2009, I was the entire company, so I spent my days cold-calling potential customers and carriers. I heard no many more times than I heard yes, and after a while, I grew immune to it. I'd hang up, take a deep breath, blow it out, and dial again.
As the years went by, though, I did less and less of that work (as one should when one runs a growing company). I still did sales meetings, but they were the warm kind—someone had made an introduction, or referred us business, or I was simply brought in to close a deal because the customer wanted to speak to a woman, or the owner, or a woman owner. My thick skin thinned a bit, and I became more easily discouraged when those deals didn't go through.
Now that I'm in the midst of a new venture, however, all the sales are my responsibility. I'm back in the grind of reaching out to people, and being rejected. It stinks, just like I knew it would. No matter what business you are in, you are going to get more no's than yes's, and it helps to keep that in mind. It also helps to remind myself that people aren't rejecting me, they are rejecting whatever it is I have to offer. (That's a little harder when what I have to offer is consulting...with me, but I'm working on it.)
The real key, though, is what I've told my sales teams for ages—you have to have enough opportunities that one deal not closing doesn't matter so much. I've always found that the sweatiest, most desperate salespeople are the ones with only a lead or two in the works. They've put all their eggs in that basket, and if it doesn't work out, they have nothing to show for their effort. The salespeople who are able to float above the rejection and maintain a positive attitude, on the other hand, are the ones with so many deals cooking that if one or two or even ten don't work out, they still have plenty out there to work on. Nothing cures angst about a rejection better than a full pipeline.