How Top Sales Teams Embrace ‘No’

As you may be aware, I originally hail from South Africa. In 2004, my family and I made the life-changing decision to leave South Africa in search of a safer and more exciting future. In 2009, we turned that dream into reality for our family, which then consisted of four and a half members, as I was 36 weeks pregnant. At that point, we were unemployed and technically homeless. Despite these challenges, we boarded a plane with great excitement, heading to a country we had never set foot in before. It had taken us four long years of relentless effort, filled with literal blood, sweat, and tears, to reach this point.

However, when we first made the decision, the Australian government did not consider us suitable candidates for permanent residence. Rejection by a government organisation is a bitter pill to swallow. 😂

Thankfully, our upbringing in Africa had taught us that nothing worthwhile comes easily. There was no point in dwelling on negativity, so we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Achieving the lives we desired required sacrifices, instability, re-training, more rejection, grappling with control issues, and employing creative problem-solving when things didn’t go as planned. Eventually, our persistence paid off, and we were granted a shiny new Permanent Residence visa sticker in our passports!

Just as with our visa application, we realised that the word “no” wasn’t a permanent barrier, and we had a choice in how we responded. We could either reframe our approach, chart a new course, and work diligently, or we could accept it as a failure and close the door on potential opportunities.

I often reflect on this period in my life, particularly the challenging emotions that accompany rejection, which are so relatable to experiences in sales. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we tend to avoid things that cause us discomfort or pain. Unfortunately, this avoidance hampers the growth of our businesses, leading to even more uncomfortable feelings.

According to a recent Forbes article, The High-Performance Traits That Power A High-Performance Sales Team, one of the common characteristics of high performing sales teams is their solution & customer focus as it shows genuine care about the customer’s problems and needs, not their own wants and desires.

To ensure that we do justice to ourselves and our businesses, I believe that focusing on the following 6 areas is essential.

These key areas will help us overcome the tendency to shy away from uncomfortable situations in sales and instead confront and conquer the opportunities that come our way.


There’s a reason why I put resilience first on the list! It’s a vital skill that often goes unnoticed but it’s the one thing that enables us to deal with challenges in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

In the early stages, I took rejection, or worse, ghosting, very personally. The emotional toll of these rejections discouraged me from having any sales-related discussions or activities, ultimately stunting my business’s growth.

Resilience has played a significant role not only in allowing my family and I to thrive in this beautiful country but also in saving my business from potential failure.


Being well-prepared is crucial for building rapport & trust with your potential clients. When you thoroughly research your prospects and their needs, you can tailor and lead the conversations and solutions more effectively.

This not only demonstrates a genuine interest in your client’s unique challenges but also positions you as a trusted advisor. Being well prepared means you can confidently anticipate objections, respond confidently and provide persuasive arguments, creating a more productive and positive interaction overall.

Preparedness not only enhances the chances of closing a deal but also instils a sense of self-assuredness in you. It’s a win-win.

Mental Strength

Mental strength empowers individuals to navigate the challenging landscape of sales with more confidence and handle rejection, setbacks, and high-pressure situations with grace.

A mentally strong person is less likely to be deterred by a string of rejections or challenging clients. Instead, they see these as opportunities for growth and improvement. This mindset shift allows them to bounce back quickly from disappointments and maintain a consistent level of activity.

Critical Thinking

In sales, critical thinking involves the ability to:

  • analyse information
  • assess situations objectively
  • solve problems dynamically
  • make informed decisions
  • make good judgement calls
  • build trusting relationships
  • exceed customer expectations

When engaging with clients, strong critical thinking skills will help you quickly grasp their needs, challenges, and preferences.

Critical thinking skills specifically enable you to ask probing questions, uncover hidden pain points, and identify potential objections, making it easy to read the verbal AND non-verbal cues from your prospects.

Commitment & Belonging

Just as a good company culture needs a clear purpose for employees to connect with and belong to, so does sales.

Purpose driven sales are based in clarity and authenticity, creating a rare breed of sellers who show up with heart and soul. They put every ounce of their effort into driving the best possible results for their organisation and their customers.


In sales, empathy means being able to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of the client. When you genuinely empathise with clients, they create a connection built on trust and understanding. This connection goes beyond the transactional nature of the interaction and allows salespeople to address the client’s needs and concerns on a deeper level.

Empathetic salespeople are skilled at active listening, which enables them to uncover not only the client’s stated needs but also their unspoken desires and pain points. By showing that they genuinely care about the client’s well-being and success, salespeople can build stronger relationships and foster loyalty.

By embracing these qualities, we can face the trials and tribulations of the sales world with confidence and determination with the wisdom gained from our life’s journey.