Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners for advice on handling rejection from current or potential clients. This is what they said.
• “I try to treat rejection as an opportunity to improve,” said Darian Poliachik, owner of Poly Graphics Invitations in Apex “It motivates me to work on my product. If I were never rejected, I’d never know what I could do better.”
• “Always maintain a positive attitude. Rejection doesn’t mean that future opportunities won’t arise. Keep the doors open, and review why the customer rejected you and consider changing your tactics,” said Shelley Brady Cook, owner of Carolina Garden Co., a Durham landscaping firm that offers design, installation and maintenance services. “There is always room for change, both for the business and the customer.”
• “When a customer or a potential customer rejects an idea I propose, I simply bow out and do not bring up the same opportunity again,” said Lee Hansley, owner of Lee Hansley Gallery, a modern and contemporary fine art gallery in Raleigh. “That does, however, open the door for future proposals. I listen to my customers intently and try to respond to their needs. I really don’t believe in putting pressure on people. It is very off-putting to them. In the art business everything is so subjective to begin with, it is wiser to seek common ground. It is important to take the lead from the customer and build from their point of view.”
• “Understand why it happened, how it could have been handled differently on your end, and learn what tell-tale signs to look for in your future dealings,” said Rob Jordan, president of Fortis Design, a Raleigh firm that develops unique products.