How Do You Handle Rejection?

May 06, 2011
Indianapolis, Indiana
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This topic came up in another thread, and I thought it very relevant given how competitive it is in today’s market.

We’ve all had the experience of putting our heart and soul into a proposal we REALLY hoped to sign, only to have the prospect choose someone else. It’s incredibly frustrating when we see ourselves as the obvious best choice, and discouraging to feel we’re being judged as less.

I've seen some guys lose a bid and act like the prospect just took a leak on their boot and gave them the finger. A purely business choice is viewed as a personal affront and they can't help themselves from taking a parting shot:

The angry hang up
"Really!?! Well you'll be sorry."
"Are you kidding me? Did you know that guy is a crook?"
"Well thanks for wasting my time!"

I've seen it a number of times, from both competitors and subs, and it's a big mistake.

Professional salespeople are hard wired to see beyond the word ‘NO’. Even if they’re unable to overcome the objections to close the sale—they can usually look past it and see there’s a chance that today's 'NO' might be tomorrow's 'YES'. But most craftsmen who start their own company don’t have much of a background in sales, and we learn those skills as we grow. In a lot of smaller construction companies, the lead guy in the field is the same one doing the selling. It’s not hard to see how such judgments can be taken personally when the company, the choice, is YOU.

It sucks to lose a project you've worked hard to put together. But taking it personal is unproductive at best, and damaging to your reputation as a professional at worst. It prevents you from looking at your sales process and figuring out what you could have done differently. But it's easier on our egos to find something to blame outside of ourselves, isn't it.

I've signed a lot of projects over the years that I lost on the first go around. For whatever reason, usually price, the homeowner chose someone else. My response is the same in every case: 

"Thank you for the opportunity to bid your project. I wish you the very best and hope it turns out beautiful." 

It's not an act either. A prospect will make the best choice they can with the information they are provided. I've either done a good job of demonstrating my value, or I haven't. Some will see it, and some won't--and some have needs I can't satisfy with my business model. But in a number of cases the owner came back and hired me later, after some issue with the other guy caused them to reconsider their choice. 

If you lose a project but the prospect later decides you were the best choice, how likely are they to call you back if you handled their initial rejection poorly? 

At the end of the process, you may look back and decide it was for the best that you didn’t get the job. It’s still unprofessional to take that parting shot, and you’ll probably lose future work because of it.


Christopher Wright is President of WrightWorks, LLC--an Indianapolis based design-build remodeling company. He started his journey in remodeling at the age of 16, as a carpenter’s helper. Since then, he has worked in nearly every trade and facet of the industry—with side trips into martial arts teaching and leadership with a Fortune 500 company. His project experience extends from inner city HUD rehabs to multi-million dollar estates. He has appeared in numerous industry publications and was recently named to the REMODELING Big50. - Facebook - Twitter 

You Can Get There From Here




Comments (10)

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  • No-avatar-62
    artiospaintingalmost 9 years ago

    I must take it good dont spend time thinking about it to busy running to the next bid. I'm just looking for the customer who wants my work. I dont think you start making money tell you can take rejection WONT A YES OR A NO THE SONNER THE BETTER

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    TileLadyalmost 9 years ago

    This is great advice. It makes me wonder how many people regretted their decision not to hire you but were to embarrassed to call you back when it didnt work out with their low bid.

  • No-avatar-62
    PowerWashalmost 9 years ago

    I do not worry about the no's. I only get about 50%-60% of my bids after I raised my prices and knew that I would get a lot of no's. No's mean that I am that much closer to yes.

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    skyhookalmost 9 years ago

    If you're getting all the jobs, you're not charging enough.
    No worries about rejection.

  • Thumb_avatar70379_1
    nccontractoralmost 9 years ago

    Posted by: TileLady

    It makes me wonder how many people regretted their decision not to hire you but were to embarrassed to call you back when it didnt work out with their low bid.

    In 12 years, I have received only a small handful of calls from jobs I didn't initially win. However, I suspect and agree there were many more homeowners too embarrased to call.

  • Thumb_378978_2777778850362_1434844664_3119815_1423009707_n
    kagealmost 9 years ago

    Thank them for the opportunity and move on.

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    jmilleralmost 9 years ago

    I throw their estimate in the trash. Not everyone can afford a non-hack.

  • No-avatar-62
    stevegiovinazzoalmost 9 years ago

    Every no leads you closer to a yes. I always remember that.

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    Warrenalmost 9 years ago

    As primarily a sub, I have dealt with this from a few contractors from time to time. A few have really pursued me and persuaded me to give input and submit a bid on some huge projects. The few times that it didn't work out were difficult to take. Think I appeared to handle it well, but it was difficult to make it appear that way.

  • No-avatar-62
    22 Constitutionalmost 9 years ago

    I bid jobs at the profit I need to make. Any bids I don't get I consider a favor. I haven't lost a dime on any of the jobs I lost.

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