How to Handle Rejection

You’ve worked up the courage to approach some wholesale buyers for the first time. What happens if you get rejected?


No Sale


Actually, the question should be “when you get rejected” – because it will happen.

Sales is mostly a numbers game, which means that only a portion of your attempts to land prospects will be successful. If you get a 10 – 20% closing rate on new accounts, you have done well. That means you need to contact quite a few stores to end up with a few wholesale customers.

The good news is that wholesale is all about repeat sales. Once you have found a retailer who is a “match” for your handmade line, you may continue that relationship for a long time, perhaps years. Repeat business is what builds business. This is what leverages your efforts in the studio and in your marketing, and will increase your income.

Prospecting for customers may seem totally foreign, and at first it will require you to step outside of your comfort zone in a big way. After a few experiences, though, you will feel a lot differently because your comfort zone expands every time you put yourself out there. It gets easier, and with a little success you might actually look forward to calling on those new prospective accounts.

So how do you handle it when you hear “No”?

Understand that it’s not personal – it’s business. Buyers need to choose the merchandise for their stores that suits their customers. That means that even if they may love your line, if it doesn’t really fit into what their customers are looking for, they may take a pass.

The best way to bow out gracefully after getting rejected is to thank them for their time and consideration, and ask if you can keep in touch in the future as you bring out new designs. No doesn’t always mean no forever. Unless your work is absolutely not a good fit for them at all, the buyer might be willing to hear from you when you release new merchandise.

Sometimes your collection might not be a match for the price points in the store.  If your prices are simply too expensive, the store most likely will not be able to sell your line. And if your prices are too inexpensive, their regular customers may think your quality is inferior, or not see the value in the work.

Developing the “tough skin” that you need when facing rejection can take a while, and you will most likely always be disappointed at hearing “No.” However, as you mature as a businessperson and a salesperson, you will be able to take this in stride, and also spot the right prospects more accurately.

So, what do you get besides battle scars when you are out fighting the wholesale wars? A more polished presentation, the ability to get over rejection and move on, and most likely some strong relationships with retailers who do well with your line. Being rejected doesn’t mean that you have failed. It means that you are willing to take the risk and engage in an extremely important part of your business, which is selling. And that is the beginning of success.


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