Author Dan Pink writes in his book To Sell is Human
that sales professionals face an “ocean of rejection” on their path to success.
Pink references research by University of Pennsylvania Psychology Professor Martin Seligman
, which shows that people’s ability to bounce back in the face of so much rejection largely depends on their explanatory style – how they explain negative events to themselves.
People who “give up easily, who become helpless even in situations where they actually can do something, explain bad events as permanent, pervasive, and personal.” They tend to believe that the negative conditions will last a long time, that the causes are universal rather than specific to the circumstances, and that they’re the ones to blame.
Instead, after a negative experience trying to sell (indeed, after any negative event!), Pink suggests that you ask yourself the following 3 questions and find a reasonable way to answer No to each one:
1. Is this permanent?
Bad answer: Yes. I’ve completely lost my skill for moving others.
Good answer: No. I was flat today because I haven’t been getting enough sleep.
2. Is this pervasive?
Bad answer: Yes. Everyone in this industry is impossible to deal with.
Good answer: No. This particular guy was a jerk.
3. Is this personal?
Bad answer: Yes. The reason he didn’t buy is that I messed up my presentation.
Good answer: No. My presentation could have been better, but the real reason he passed is that he wasn’t ready to buy right now.
As Pink notes, “the more you explain bad events as temporary, specific, and external, the more likely you are to persist even in the face of adversity.”