Handling sales call rejection

Mar 24

Handling sales call rejection

It may be a cliché breakup line – but as far as call centre agents go, they certainly deal with a lot of “It’s not you, it’s me.” Sales call rejection handling isn’t easy for anyone, especially when it happens on such a frequent basis – in many cases several times an hour.

Your agents are going to hear “no” on quite possibly many sales calls before they hear yes. And no matter how well trained they are, how positive they are, and how hard they tried to work with every potential customer, they will never be able to completely stop sales call rejection. No matter how long an agent has been working in the call centre environment, they may have days where it’s harder for them to handle rejection. And if you’re working with a brand-new agent, you may find they tend to take it personally even more often.

One of the best things you can do for your company, and your agents is to include a significant amount of training on sales call rejection handling. After all, if all you did was sitting listen to annoyed customers tell you no all day, wouldn’t you feel pretty terrible at the end of the day?


Think about each sales call as a numbers game

I’m reminded of a song from REM – Everybody Hurts. True, it was once voted the most depressing song of all time (probably along with most of the REM back catalogue) but  I take comfort in the reminder that everybody has those kind of days – agents and customers alike. What you need to do is help your staff remember that “if you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone…”

One of the big things you can do is help your agents learn not to take a customer’s rejection personally. Go beyond teaching them how to push customers from a “no” to a “maybe” or even a “yes”, to helping them learn techniques to deal with the emotional aspect of the rejection. This can help boost employee morale, and as a result their sales call productivity.

One trick you can share is to think about each sales call as a numbers game. For instance, if close to half of your contacts give you a favourable response – whether it is a yes, a request for more information, or the consent to follow up again in the future, and only around 20%  say they’re completely not interested, your agents know they’re going into the next call with better than 2 to 1 odds of a positive outcome. Knowing the odds are with you helps keep motivation flowing strong from one call to the next.

It doesn’t really matter what your particular numbers are as long as the agents know they’re not facing an uphill battle from the start. Sometimes, it’s all about confidence and faking it until you make it.


Encourage them to relax with some stress management techniques

Handling all that rejection, when combined with the stress and pressure of closing sales and the possibility of rude customers is the perfect recipe for a stressed and burnt out call centre agent. While your training should focus on how to get the job done, at least part of your training should consist of teaching your staff how to manage their stress so they can be a healthy and productive member of your team.

Stress management will help decrease their heart rate, lower their blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, increase blood flow, and slow their breathing. While this makes the job easier to handle, it also provides an increased tolerance for frustration, and most importantly – increased productivity.

When your agents can effectively manage their stress, they will be more satisfied with their jobs, better able to effectively handle sales calls, and be a more valuable employee.

The following stress management techniques are options your staff can use while at work, without disrupting the flow of business into and out of your call centre.

4×4 breathing

This simple and effective deep breathing techniques will combat the effect of stress. Deep breathing will decrease the heart rate and blood pressure. Providing agents with this technique can help protect themselves from the negative effects of stress, and keep them on track after a rough call. Coach your agents to close their eyes, sit up straight, and place their feet on the floor, while inhaling through their nose for four seconds. Then exhale through their mouth for four seconds. Wait for four seconds. Repeat four times.

Encourage your agents to take a few minutes throughout the day to practice this breathing technique. It’s also a good way to reduce stress outside of work, to ensure agents come into work feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.

Encourage laughter

Laughing naturally reduces cortisol, the body stress hormone while also increasing endorphins to improve the mood. Taking a few seconds to read a funny joke, watching funny video, or read a funny quote can dramatically decrease stress.


Remind them that a no now, doesn’t mean it won’t be a yes later

Teach your agents to realize that when a customer says no right now, it doesn’t mean it will not turn into a yes later. Sometimes, customers need to be exposed to an offer more than one time or need to take time to research on their own before they can decide whether or not they want to invest in whatever it is you have to offer.

Your agents also need to realize that if they get a firm no from a customer who also asks not to be contacted again, it is not necessarily a reflection on them. You never really know what to customers going through, you don’t know the details of their financial situation, and depending on the source of your list, you may not know how well the offer is targeted toward the person you are calling. You could just catch a prospect on a bad day.


Recognise the importance of sales call goal setting

Show your agents the value in setting goals for themselves every day. Teach them to set realistic and attainable goals for things other than the number of sales for yeses they get from prospects.Examples of metrics you could use include the number of dials, the number of requests for additional information or the number of appointments set.

Using these metrics will allow your agents to see success regardless of the number of rejections they receive on any given day, and you can use your call centre software to help track and report on these goals to help your agents know how they are progressing.

So – when you develop your training materials for your team, dedicate a portion of your time to rejection handling. Teach those stress management techniques. Practice those rejections, and how to prepare yourself before, during, and after the call. By focusing on rejection handling, your agents learn they won’t automatically be fired for not making the sale every single time.


You’d be surprised how much more effective a happy, motivated team can be on each sales call. Download your free guide to the Psychology of a High Performing Call Centre today.


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Image via Flickr CC/Britt-knee