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Three Rejections = Success

Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes

I recently got a call from my brother whose website we host. He asked me how he can see statistics on an audio file that was being accessed using a URL that was bypassing his domain (for those of you who have no idea what I just said, substitute “He asked me a favor”). I told him these statistics were kept in a file he could not access—rejection #1. He then asked me how he could get access to this file. I told him there was no way to give him access to this file—rejection #2. He then asked if it is at all possible for him to see these statistics. I told him there is always a way, but it would be time-consuming and costly to have a script made to do what he needs—rejection #3. Then he simply said, “Can you think of any way you can help me?” Not being one to walk away from an intellectual challenge, I immediately came up with a solution that took only seconds to implement for him. Result: he was grateful, and I was happy I could help him with something that meant so much to him. My brother reminded me of one of the most important and practical principles of success: one must often go through three rejections to get a “yes.”

In this context, I am using the term “rejection” to also mean “objection.” However, a rejection is most often in the form of a “no” type answer, whereas an objection is usually a statement stating why the offer cannot be accepted. An objection should normally not be seen as a rejection; it is nothing more than a request for more information. Not accepting a rejection is not being pushy; it is being persistent. It is not about being aggressive, but being assertive. Most people quit at the first rejection, but it is the small percentage who persist by not accepting the first three rejections and find success.

Why “give up” at rejection number four? Isn’t persistence the key to success? Persistence is a key to success, but so is knowing when to move on. Three appears to be the magic number when it comes to rejections and the turning point in the perspective of the person to whom the offer is being made. Rejection number one is generally reactionary; that is, the person has not really thought about the offer. Rejections number two and three are most often objections or requests for more information. Upon rejection number four, it is best to accept the fact that the other person is not ready or willing to accept your offer. From here, you can choose to a) retreat for now, but get more information, modify your offer, or reevaluate your presentation for presenting your offer to the same person or b) move on to the next person. In either case, be sure to thank the person sincerely for their time or part ways in such a way that displays no resentment or ill feelings.

Although I am not comfortable citing any statistics on the success of this principle in action, due to all the unknown variables, I would be willing to wager that anyone adopting this principle who usually accepts the first rejection, will see at least a 50% increase in accepted offers. This applies to the salesperson selling a product, the entrepreneur selling an idea, the single person selling him or herself (in a non-prostitution sense), and in any other situation where one is presenting an offer to another.

It is important to emphasize that this principle applies to an individual offer. It is not about quitting after receiving four different rejections from four different people. Not accepting a rejection may feel awkward at first, since most of us were brought up being told, “No means no!” However, remember to counter the first three rejections, rather than accepting them. Do not take “no” for an answer, unless it is “no” #4.


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If you like what you are reading, please consider these options in addition to this free course. They include a hardcopy of the book and an intensive course with action steps, assignments, and personal coaching from Bo.

  • Buy the Book. Year To Success - Available in hardcover, signed by the author. Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio from Amazon.com.
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Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.

 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

    (14 ratings)
    Personal Development : Personal Transformation
    Offered by VirversitY
    $19.95 FREE
    n/a
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