Dealing with Rejection When You Lose the Sale

By Amy O’Connor
Hearing ‘no’ from a buyer when we ask a closing question is never fun. It can even feel an awful lot like personal rejection, and we often do take it personally. We internalize the perceived rejection which in turn can diminish our confidence and even make us question are overall sales ability.

Renowned psychologist Martin Seligman has spent years studying how people deal with setbacks both in their personal and professional lives, and he describes 3 P’s that can stunt recovery after a negative experience such as a failed close.

  • Personalization – the belief that it is our fault
  • Pervasiveness – the belief that an event effects all other areas of our life
  • Permanence – the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever

So for sales people, the 3 P’s after a failed close might sound like this: It’s my fault the buyer didn’t buy. I’m an awful sales person. I always will be an awful salesperson. Ugh. My life is hopeless.

Cognitively we know the above statements are ridiculous. Just because a buyer didn’t buy doesn’t mean you did anything incorrect. In fact, famed psychologist in the field of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman outlines the idea that a result of an action either good or bad does not necessarily mean the action that produced that result was right or wrong.

Simply said, right behaviors do not always lead to positive results. This means that you may have done everything right and other factors beyond your control resulted in the buyer saying ‘no’.

We also know that one failed close does not mean that you are a terrible sales person. As Daniel Pink would say “every day, sales people face an ocean of rejection” and it is not the event that matters, but what you do with that rejection that counts.

Finally, this state of perceived failure is not permanent. You will sell something again. And probably sooner than you think if you will allow yourself to shake this one off and focus on the next opportunity.

The 3 P’s are a natural reaction to any kind of negative experience. The trick is to recognize what is really happening and remind yourself: I did everything I could on this one. I am a good sales person. I will sell again!


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About the Author: Amy O'Connor

Amy O'Connor
Amy O’Connor brings a decade’s worth of industry experience and knowledge to her impactful and enlightening seminars. Working hand-in-hand with a majority of the top ten homebuilders in North America — as well as private and regional builders — Amy offers a wealth of real-world expertise managing, coaching and motivating new home sales professionals. Learn more at and follow Amy on Twitter.