Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books.
Email her to ask a question for the next Ask Holly How email@example.com.
I have created a product that was patented about a year ago. I was really excited about this, and thought that because of this, my product would be a sure success. I started meeting with companies to sell my product, and I was quickly met with an overwhelming amount of rejection.
I’m frustrated. I think my product is genius, and will transform their business, yet I’m having a really hard time convincing people to buy it from me. I’ve been at this almost a year now and I feel ready to throw in the towel. I’m feeling completely uninspired by this process and would like some advice on how to keep moving forward amidst so much rejection.
Sounds like you need a jump start on this venture. In all of the excitement of starting a business, we can overlook the fact that we are totally exposing our thoughts and ideas to everyone for critiques and criticism. Rejection can be painful and draining, if you don’t keep an objective perspective on your business. Keep in mind that everyone deals with rejection, and it’s up to you to decide how to incorporate it into your process and use it to fuel your success.
The first question I would ask you is this: are you listening to the feedback you get when you have these sales meetings? Often when we feel like our product is amazing, we subconsciously tune out feedback. When you are being rejected, ask why and really listen. Is it bad timing, wrong price point, poor design, wrong market? Beware of thinking that “you know better” because you developed the product. Your ultimate purpose in business is to fill a need in the marketplace. If you aren’t clear on the real needs of the consumer, you won’t make a sale just because you love your product. Rejection is always telling us something. Listen to what is being said in those meetings and use it to refine your sales process.
Next, make sure that your self-worth is not connected to your product’s worth. Too often we personalize rejection, and it can become detrimental to our business. This is why developing our leadership in business—even if we are solo entrepreneurs—is crucial. A strong sense of self will help you be able to receive rejection and not spiral into a pity party. Being self aware is one of the most vital needs of an entrepreneur. Reflect on whether or not you have personalized all of this rejection. It could be that you have, and you’re bringing this baggage into your sales meetings. There’s a saying that success begets success. So take the time to ground yourself in this sea of rejection and do not equate rejection with being a failure. If you present with an air of success, you’ll be more likely to inspire a sale.
Finally, keep going. It could take months and even years to find the right fit for your product. Think about authors who deal with years of rejections before a publisher takes their book. Look at it like this: profit, a financial gain, comes when we find a pro-favoring, fit- matchup, for our product.
Be patient. If your product is as good as you say it is the right fit is out there waiting for you. The quicker you incorporate feedback and the more self aware you are, the faster you’ll find the right fit and reap the rewards.