Learning To Learn From Rejection


Sharon Alt is on CRN's list of Women of the Channel. Here, she discusses that bugaboo of all salespeople: Dealing with rejection.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor.

We all know that if you’re working in the channel you’re in sales—and that involves a lot of rejection. So many of us spend a tremendous amount of time looking for that magic potion to help us in dealing with rejection and stay focused on the deal. We read books. We attend lecture series. We might even look for mentors to advise us.
We’ve got it all wrong.

Success in this business isn’t about overcoming rejection, but about staying thoughtful, determined and persistent throughout a sales cycle. That mantra applies to both men and women, and keeping it top-of-mind has helped advance my career over the years. You really have to be a bit of a pit-bull to succeed in the channel, meaning that if you bite on something, you should not let anyone shake you off of it – if you believe it’s the right thing. You’re out there to represent your company, your partners and your clients to the best of your abilities. You really can’t afford to take things personally when they don’t go your way. I know it is human nature to get down now and then, but for the most part, try not to spend much time thinking about rejection. Shift gears mentally and stay positive.

When a deal doesn’t come together, don’t give up. Go into analysis mode. Take a hard, objective look at why you did not win. Try to understand why someone told you “no.” Completely rethink the situation. Come up with a new strategy to re-engage with that partner or client. You are selling something that could provide tremendous value, and you need to think about how to create an environment where they’ll be more receptive to your message the next time around.

That has worked really well for me at Intel. High tech is a male-oriented world, but that doesn’t mean you cannot succeed as a woman. I’ve found that by working hard, being detail-oriented and by effectively prioritizing my work, I am more valuable to stakeholders and earn respect along the way.

That last point about respect is very important. I’ve seen situations where corporate executives walk into a room without knowing anyone and think people will trust their every word because they have a lofty title. It really doesn’t work that way. Not in the channel.

Respect isn’t handed to you; it’s earned. And that takes time. You get there by showing respect for others while demonstrating good personal integrity, a solid work ethic and by bringing the right level of knowledge to the table for the right situations. You have to be confident enough in your abilities to know your limitations and be willing to bring in outside expertise to augment your knowledge and skills. Nobody respects a know-it-all, but people do respect people who know a little about a lot and involve colleagues to fill in the rest. I recognize my strengths and limitations, and I love teaming with colleagues to deliver the most complete picture of the great programs we offer to channel partners.

Related: How To Get Great Vendor Training

Success in the channel isn’t about how you handle adversity, but about staying positive and persistent and doing your utmost to deliver consistent results.