Part of being an entrepreneur and small business owner means you will have to learn how to deal with rejection. But, what really matters is how you deal with this negativity – will you let it derail you or will you take a step back and use the experience to learn from?
You always need to remember that just because an investor is meeting with you doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal – you still need to deliver. Whether you are pitching to Shark Tank or Auntie Pearl, you need to be prepared and ready to answer the hard questions. However, if your pitch doesn’t go to plan and you hear the dreaded “no”, you need to be able to bounce back and carry on.
To help you with this process, Catherine Wijnberg, a serial entrepreneur, and CEO of Fetola Business Growth Professionals shares these tips:
Face your problems
The way to succeed and move forward is to face your problems head-on. This means there is nothing to be gained from hiding behind your failed sales pitch because those problems will stay with you unless you deal with them.
“Everybody makes mistakes. If you scratch the surface of any successful person’s story, you’ll find one long series of mistakes that have been turned into an advantage. The trick is to learn from each mistake so that you don’t repeat it again and again,” she explains.
Once you have faced your mistakes you can learn and move forward. These lessons will help you prepare better for your next sales pitch.
Catherine offers these tips:
- Start by congratulating yourself on what you did RIGHT. You had the courage to try for one thing! Praise yourself first
- Next, write down where you went wrong and make a list of new behaviours to correct this. Make notes for your next meeting/call to remind you of this. Catherine, for example, makes a note to “remember to ask for the next meeting” to ensure she is in the power seat for the follow-up.
- If your sales pitch has gone horribly wrong, own up to it and admit your mistake. Ask for another chance to give your pitch. What do you have to lose?
Ask for clarity
“Entrepreneurs often leave a sales pitch with feelings of confusion and that can be unsettling. This can be hard to deal with and often we need an outsider’s perspective to walk us through what happened or just to listen,” Catherine says.
She suggests that you find a mentor. He/she plays a vital role in your journey as a small business owner. A mentor can give you insight and help you find solutions. Sitting down with your mentor and having a “debrief” will allow you to move forward.
SME South Africa agrees that you need to reflect on your pitch. According to Michelle Strydom ,many entrepreneurs make the mistake of pitching the processes of their product and not the impact it has.
In addition to Catherine’s tips, you can try the following:
1. Allow yourself the space to feel disappointed
No one likes to fail, and no one likes to be rejected, but you need to give yourself a chance to deal with the reality of a failed pitch. The best way to deal with feeling disheartened is to distract yourself – go for a walk, go to the gym or spend time with positive people.
Leave the office and come back the next day with a positive mindset and the desire to try again and again. Because chances are in sales you will hear “no” many times more than “yes” – and that’s okay.
2. Role play a pitch scenario
When you were in school and you were writing and practicing for an oral you read it to someone and practiced it. Use this same process to practice your pitch on someone. The person you practice it on needs to give you honest feedback. This process will help you polish your pitch and identify the gaps that you struggle with.
Again, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Who am I presenting to?
- Did I listen enough?
- Was I too pushy?
- Did I build a relationship with them?
3. Know who you are pitching to
If you are going for an interview for a prospective job, you research the company beforehand. It shouldn’t be any different when you are going to pitch to a person or a company. Do your homework.
LinkedIn is a great tool to use when researching a person and if you are going to a company look through their website and familiarise yourself with their work and their ethos. During your pitch you can drop a few of the things you learned in your research. It shows initiative and people like the fact that you have taken time to “get to know” them.
Everyone deals with rejection in their own way, but having a process to help you recover from a failed pitch will give you the confidence going into the next one.