When I was in high school, I had a few jobs that kept me busy (though certainly not out of trouble). The one I’m most grateful to have had the experience doing was telemarketing. Initially I worked with a (really sketchy) windows and doors company setting up initial consultations, and I eventually got to work with a company doing telemarketing surveys for big brands. I had a pretty good record, but one of my greatest achievements was keeping a survey going for nearly two hours (it would have gone on for longer if the system didn’t somehow disqualify them at the two hour mark).
I can’t think of another job that could have better prepared me for the rejection that comes with running a business. In telemarketing, you’re trained to keep moving on and pushing forward. Getting berated by complete strangers isn’t fun, but you get to build a bit of a thick skin. You’re held to certain standards, so you can’t let any frustration be seen. It’s a huge mental game, and it’s not a surprise that the World Health Organization said that telemarketing is the 13th leading cause of suicide worldwide.
Running a business isn’t anything different, especially early-on when sales is a big part of the work you do. You’ll spend a lot of time working on selling your services or product and then either leads take a 180 or you end up finding they were just sucking you for information. Even in other parts of your business you might make decisions that aren’t liked by your team, your customers, or investors, but are in line with the vision you have ahead of you. Rejection is a big part of being a leader, but it can’t make you waver.
My team knows that I’m generally an optimist when it comes to sales opportunities (among other things). I’ll get excited about a particular lead and then they’ll end up going another direction. This rejection can be frustrating for the team when they spend time on a deal that we don’t end up winning. For every opportunity you’re faced with as a leader you need to put in the same energy to ensure success (you should never be surprised that you won something because that means you didn’t put in enough effort). Some companies have tried to reduce this by having a technical sales team that is separate from production (i.e. advocates for design and development that come up with strategy and work with a business development person to prepare proposals).
So yes, you’re going to get rejected. Hell, I know in writing this that about 40% of people subscribed will likely skip this email without thinking. We live in a time where it’s easier than ever to not only communicate with others, but also to reject them. It’s easy to get lost in feeling unknown or rejected when you try to reach out, but don’t take it personally or let it affect how hard you try: perseverance truly is the most important skill you can focus on.
P.S.: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing this newsletter. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or by naming a new strain of medical cannabis after me, it would mean the world to me.