5 ways to Overcome the Fear of No and Turn Rejections into Positives

Freelancers, business owners, creatives, and entrepreneurs alike have a fear of a simple word:


In sales, no is worse than a four-letter word. But entrepreneur, author and sales expert Shari Levitin suggests entrepreneurs get comfortable with the word no in order to learn how to use that initial rejection to give buyers more reasons to say yes.

“Objections are a critical part of your sales process,” Levitin writes. “Objections mean your customer is interested…The problem is many salespeople cower when the hear no. They haven’t been coached on methods to handle to Nos.”

So how can you move from a fear of that no, to mastering the skill of turning initial objections into a reason to buy? Here are five basics to consider before that next sales pitch.

Don’t take no personally.

No actually isn’t the worst possible way for a potential customer or client to respond — because no is better than ignoring the concept entirely. Working in a creative field or leading a small business, nos feel like personal rejections — but don’t let those rejections feel that way.

Instead, Levitin suggests listening completely to that rejection, without interrupting. Then, she suggests finding something in that negative explanation that you can agree with. Don’t criticize the reasoning, but find something to agree on from the start, or they’ll never agree with you at the end.

Find the reason behind the no.

No may be a short, two-letter word — but usually there’s much more behind the response. If you can find the reason behind that rejection, you may be able to give that potential customer or client a reason to say yes. Ask questions, Levitin suggests, in order to get to the root cause of that no. 

Join Levitin as she explores authentic sales pitches that both result in more sales and reduce that dread of walking into that next sales pitch. RSVP Today.

Are they saying no because they just don’t have the time to switch? Demonstrate how saying yes will save time later. Are they saying no because they’ve had a bad experience in the past? Share with them the strategies that you have in place to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Read between the questions.

Asking questions is a great way to get to the real reason behind the no — but questions from the client or customer can be just as revealing. While asking questions is great, that potential client probably won’t spell out the real issue in exact detail — but they may allude to the issue in the questions they ask you. 

Levitin says that concerns often come out under the guise of a question. Asking a question about the timeline probably means they are concerned with getting everything doing in time or had a bad experience with a long wait in the past. Asking a question about what’s really part of the product or service could mean they’ve been bit by the fine print in the past.

By identifying the concerns that aren’t spelled out in so many words, you can create a better response to help address those issues and even set yourself apart from the competition by factoring in the concerns that others may not.

Learn from the nos — and listen to your customers.

Sometimes, pinpointing that reason behind the no allows you to detail what, exactly, about your product or service addresses that exact concern in order to turn that no into a yes. Other times, that no is a way to gather ideas to improve your business and your approach. If several potential customers ask about the same thing, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s a need for that one thing.

Levitin suggests avoiding the temptation to drop prices after a no and instead to just listen to the reason behind the suggestion. She shared, for example, a story of a street vendor who tried to sell her a hat. When she tried it on and said it didn’t fit, the vendor still kept trying to sell the hat by dropping the price. A price drop didn’t address the issue — but expanding designs to accommodate more sizes would. If you can’t address the problem with your existing business model, save those rejections to reference as you look for ways to expand to more customers.

Don’t buy into the misconceptions on why customers say no.

Why do most people say no to a sales pitch? Is it really the price? While that’s a common perception, it’s not accurate. Levitin suggests that time, not money, is often one of the biggest reasons customers don’t buy. Switching to a new computer system takes time. Switching to a new service provider takes time. Training a new freelancer takes time. 

Understanding the most common reasons behind a no allows you to focus on the potential nos before the conversation even starts and allows you to be upfront about the factors that make that concern a non-issue. Knowing the most common answer doesn’t replace actually listening to that customer’s specific concerns, but that knowledge does help you prepare for the pitch before you even make that first handshake.

Most entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners don’t choose that career path because they like making sales — in fact, for many, sales pitches are one of the most challenging parts of the job. But getting comfortable with sales — and nice in cozy with the word no — can help you finish more sales with a yes.

Join Levitin as she explores authentic sales pitches that both result in more sales and reduce that dread of walking into that next sales pitch. RSVP Today.


Hillary Grigonis FOLLOW >

Hillary K. Grigonis is a web content writer and lifestyle photographer from Michigan. After working as a photojournalist for several years, she made the leap and started her own business and now enjoys sharing tips and tricks with emerging photographers.