How to handle customer rejection

How do you handle Customer Rejection? – Tough Sales Interview Question

How do you handle customer rejection? – is a challenging sales interview question.
Learn how to smartly handle it and set yourself apart!

For any role that involves customer interaction, interviewers want to know how you deal with tough situations. The customer is the king when it comes to any business. That is why the ability to handle them in any scenario skillfully becomes important.

How do you handle customer rejection? – is a question that becomes important for the same reason. Handling a “NO” in general is tough. When a salesperson faces it during a sales interaction, it becomes more challenging.

Before you answer this question, you need to know the effective ways to handle this question to score better in an interview. Practicing important skills related to this situation and question can differentiate you both in sales and the interview!  

In this article, you will not only get the right approach to answer this interview question but also get an idea about the skills related to this question. A general answer to this interview question will instantly hamper your chances of getting selected.

Sales makes you handle customer rejections with the common responses like not interested, not required, not budget-friendly, etc.

According to LeadGibbon, 44% of the sales representatives give up after the fourth “NO” from a prospect.

That is why from time to time, this question is asked to measure your capability to deal with these rejections and proceed further. 

Related Reading: Check the “Fresher Interview Questions” section to prepare for multitudes of tricky interview questions.

Why do interviewers ask – How do you handle customer rejection?

Let us explore the main reasons why interviewers ask you about your ability or process to handle rejection.

1. The hiring manager needs to ensure that you are good at handling a difficult situation and you can accept rejection. According to natural human instincts, people get demotivated after rejection. Studies show that 44% of salespeople give up after one rejected pitch instead of trying for a second time. 

2. Any sales position requires powerful soft skills like active communication and listening, attention, patience, self-motivation, etc. That’s why companies want employees who can accept rejection, use these skills, and try to close any deal till the final opportunity.

3. This question is asked in a sales interview to examine whether a candidate is able to overcome a refusal and convince the prospects to get the offered product or service. They may want to see what kind of rebuttals you can come up with.

4. Also, it is important to showcase that you’re emotionally strong and results cannot drag you back.

5. This also checks your ability to think on your feet. Every situation of rejection is not only emotionally daunting. It is also different with each customer. This requires you to think on your feet and skillfully handle it.

Even if it is a common question asked in almost every sales interview, it is always advised to prepare properly to answer it. This one answer can set you apart from 99% of other candidates. 

Useful Read : How do you handle Stress and Pressure?

How to prepare for – How to handle rejections?

Some key skills should be showcased in your answer to this question, how do you handle customer rejection.

1. Be an Active Listener

The most important task in a sales job is not to speak, but to listen. Active listening enables different opportunities to solve a refusal and get another chance to offer. Prospects reject a proposal for two main reasons. One is if the product or service doesn’t match the requirements or it is not pocket-friendly. Until you can find the main reason behind the rejection, you cannot sell anything. 

According to a study, active listening is one of the top three skills a salesperson should have and it enables 80% positive feedback from the prospect’s end. For a potential conversation, it is mandatory to listen to them first. 

2. Be Empathetic

When you are an active listener and able to find the root of the refusal, you can start a convincing conversation. For a fruitful conversation, it is important to maintain a low, empathetic voice. You cannot force a prospect’s decision but help them to find another way to rethink an offer. 

An empathetic voice also helps to build a rapport. While you can understand the actual problem of the target customer, they can also listen to your pitch carefully. Your body language and tone can accelerate the conversation up to 80% to close the deal. 

3. Be a Solution Provider

Preceded by active listening and empathetic conversation, you need to provide a solution instead of offering the product or service directly. It will show your concern and add clarity to your pitch. You need to summarize what you want to offer, what are the benefits, and how would it help to solve their problem. 

Step by step pitch would provide room for the customers to think about the product or service more and your pitch won’t sound like a push. To do so, it is important to have strong research about the prospect. This research can be according to the formal sales processes or by your own keen observation skill. 

5. Have a Positive Approach

A warm and personalized conversation always attracts a potential customer. Maintaining a positive approach is beneficial for your personal morale and sales. You need to understand the difference between rejection and objection. A no can be the cloaked request to get more information from the salesperson. Handling these objections is all about the right sales attitude. 

With a positive perspective, you may diagnose the buying process and use objection as a negotiating tactic. There is nothing to ake personally in a sales rejection. And in most cases due to a lack of self-motivation, a salesperson cannot close a deal. A positive approach can influence a prospect’s buying process indirectly. 

5. Build a Rapport

According to a study, only 13% of customers believe that a salesperson can understand their actual needs. To reach that trust level you need to build a strong rapport and make them your potential customer. 

You need to remember that in front of your prospect, you’re the representative of your company. So, your behaviour, tone, body language, and presentation might affect the company’s image as well. All the four points mentioned above are equally important to build an effective sales rapport. It helps to get a long-term relationship with the prospect. Also, you may get referrals from their side. 

Sample Answers for – How do you handle customer rejection?

1. “In my previous sales position, I had to deal with more than one rejection. But I kept myself motivated and every time I hear a no I tried to find why not? Rejection is not separate from sales but is included in the process. I try to reach the pr prospect for another time and try to find their boundaries. Util I cannot find their needs, I can’t offer the right product. 

So, for me, the first priority is to listen to them and their requirements. Only after that, I can present my pitch to them. I love to think from the customer’s perspective before reaching out to them. It helps to understand them in a better way and prevent rejection. I always handle rejection as an opportunity to make the pitch better. “

2. “Last year, I had to handle several customer rejections. To deal with those rejections, I need to be professional enough. What I learned from those rejections is, it is a process of this job. And instead of leaving them behind, I need to go back again to them to find out the reason behind their rejection. 

I try to make a conversation with the prospect to understand their needs. So I can offer them their requirements instead of presenting something they won’t buy out of their need. To handle customer rejection, I needed to work on my soft skills and obstacle handling skills in order to brainstorm multiple ideas to sell the product with the right pitch.”

3. ” From one of the last job experiences, I had one prospect who rejected our pitch three times. So, I personally called him for the fourth time and instead of making a pitch a tried to make a warm conversation. Gradually, he told me that he has some other requirements. I told him that I would try to help him to get the requirements done. 

I went to the product manager and asked if some inline products can be offered to the prospects. They had a meeting and in two months we had a new chain of inline products, 

As I built a rapport with the prospect, I made a follow-up call and explained the new product. He finally agreed to try the new product and I closed the final deal. ”

6 Tips to Remember while talking about Customer Rejection

1. According to statistics, it takes an average of 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. So, you cannot get demotivated after a single rejection.

Self-motivation is very important to becoming a successful salesperson. You need to keep calm while dealing with a customer rejection and maintain a positive approach.

2. In your answer, you need to show that you’re professional enough. Know how to keep your personal feelings separate from professional failures.

Also, mention that you don’t entertain any kind of sales failures and don’t let them be an obstacle to your success rate. Be enthusiastic while answering your experience. 

3. Maintain your confident tone and body language while speaking about the refusals in your career. Tell your interviewers that you took the customer rejection as a learning opportunity.

Don’t speak for the sake of a good answer but try to make an impact with honest examples. If you cannot speak confidently in front of the panel, they won’t consider you as a potential salesperson. 

4. Mention your soft skill which is important to handle a customer rejection. Practice what you want to preach in the interview so it makes sense. 

5. Retaining existing customers is 6 to 7 times less costly than acquiring new ones each year for a company. So tell them how you can retain the customers with better ideas and generate better revenue. 

6. Tell the interviewers that you always remember that you’re representing a company. So you maintain your attitude to let the customer have good feedback and positive review on the product sooner or later,

4 Mistakes to Avoid about handling customer rejection

1. Make it Personal:

While answering, when you mention your personal breakdown due to customer rejection, it won’t highlight your passion but your professional instability. You cannot take a customer rejection personally as they have several reasons to refuse like requirements or budget or room for negotiation. Customers have nothing personal with you.

As an efficient salesperson, it is expected that you can handle rejection and make yourself better. Also, if you’re applying for a sales manager or sales executive post, you also need to boost your team morale. In such cases, you cannot showcase your personal feelings after getting rejected more than once. 

2. Act as if you have never been rejected:

This is one of the biggest mistakes sales interviewees can do while answering this question. As mentioned earlier, rejection is a part of sales. So, if you answer that you have never been rejected, it would imply that you don’t have enough experience. Or, it would show that you cannot handle rejection and that is why you are hiding the actual story. 

The interviewees know that everyone in their career gets rejected. They wanted to know if you can handle the situation with a positive approach or gets depressed. You cannot deny the situation but be stronger by overcoming it. 

3. Expressing your dejection:

If you get emotional while answering, your tone gets choked or you shiver, which means you are not good at obstacle handling. You cannot express your emotion in an interview round, especially with these types of tough interview questions. 

4. Talking Rudely:

While describing your experience of rejection, f you talk rudely about the customer or past situation, that reflect you are not good the handling customer rejection. Even if a prospect rejects your proposal, as a company representative, you cannot behave unprofessionally with them. 

Similar Interview Question on Customer Rejection Handling

1. Tell me a time when you dealt with a difficult customer or client.

2. When have you had to deal with an angry or irate customer?

3. What would you consider when dealing with a challenging customer?

4. How would you deal with an angry customer?

5. How would you deal with a difficult customer on the telephone?

6. Does it affect you personally when a customer rejects your call or pitch even after multiple tries? 

7. Tell me your experience with a difficult customer.


This article would help the interviewees to understand the exact process of answering this question in a sales interview.

Note down that you need to answer them about how you handled rejection instead of answering them about how to prevent any rejection.

Interviewers want to measure your obstacle handling skill with this question, not your management skills. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top