Holvi Blog for Makers and Doers

Entrepreneur, even if you get hit you must sell

Small Business Tips · 19/05/2016, 15:07 · Arttu Talvitie

According to an old belief, the Finns don't know how to sell. The belief has remained strong. For example a study by the Association for Finnish Work says that 45 percent of Finns agree or somewhat agree with the statement: "Finnish don't know how to sell".

"Finland has a lot of room for improvement in the valuation of sales work and customer service functions. Sales expertise is needed more and more in many jobs. The importance of sales work is very important for the national economy, in particular because of the large proportion of Finnish export industries. The myth that Finns lack sales skills is a strong myth, which we have told ourselves for too long"

 Tero Lausala, CEO of Association for Finnish Work.

Traditionally speaking, social salesmanship does not fit the stereotype of the Finnish tongue-tied, but the sales work has many other features that make it challenging. Enduring failure is one of them. 

Seller, the punching bag of business

In boxing and as a seller - I have learned to get beaten up. The seller is a punching bag of business. It is a cold fact that a large part of the selling process ends up with no actual sales.

It was an important moment, when I realized that large part of sale is enduring failure. Until that moment I took failures to my Boxing-1heart. And if you fail constantly - it's discouraging. That's why it was really liberating to realize that most of the time spent on sales did not produce results. And it 's okay.

Negative responses affect the mood of the seller through work. Continuous negative experiences call for burnouts and although the seller remains in working condition, glum mood still shines through. Especially in as social process as sale. But how do you take these constant waves of rejection?

However, it’s important to remember that the customer is not abandoning you or your company . The customer is not likely to know you. Customer rejects the offer, which you have presented to him. This should not be taken personally.

Turn rejection to profit

In business, you try to create value for the company and thereby profit for the business. If the customer does not accept the bid, the client may not see the added value of your offering. This may be due to two reasons: either the client did not understand the added value, or the offer would not have brought him enough added value. Therefore, banning the purchase decision may have a significant learning experience. If the customer can’t add value to your offering, you're either offering the wrong product for the right customer or the wrong product to the right customer.

It's therefore important to find out why the potential customer refused. At this point it should be avoided not to seem bitter or force-feeding, because there is nothing to drive out the potential buyer as well as bitterness or force-feeding. It's important to keep good relationship with customers who do not buy right away - they can, however, buy later. Instead, you should go get some more information in a positive way, for example by asking: "How could I have done better my offer - one that you have picked up on it?".

When customers respond to this question, you can hear whether the fault might have been in insecure sales speech or in the actual offer. By asking the reasons for the refusal, you might hear why the offering was not interesting, and you can offer the product again with a different offer.

Entrepreneur, even if you get hit you must sell.

Still sometimes your customers don't care for a good offer. Then you should find out whether your product is really so good that it generates added value for customers. If the same problems arise in all the discussions, the problems should be repaired. Company that does not produce value to its customers, can not stay afloat - at least not without lying. And it is not a workable business model for anyone.

It is therefore important to remember not to take a refusal personally. It is not an attack on you or maybe not even against your value proposition. Perhaps the time was wrong or the client couldn’t afford your offer. If you know your product will create added value for your customers, you can confidently move forward. This just was not the right customer or the right moment to sell.

However, refusals should not be shrugged off. The refusal is always a reason and figuring out the reason for the refusal can help to improve your sales, the choice of customer or even your product. But you should not get discouraged, but rather keep trying, and be motivated from the challenges.


Adapt and overcome

Psychologist Carol Dweck has identified two different kinds of logic that govern a lot of our behavior: Growth Mindset & Fixed Mindset. Growth Mindset having people like failures as opportunities to learn, while the Fixed Mindset people think by personal characteristics, such as intelligence, to be given at birth. One major factor in the emergence of the idea of these models is the fact that whether a child was praised for his enterprise and the work, or the child was praised for talents and his intelligence.

It is important to remember not to take a refusal personally. It is not an attack on you or maybe not even against your value proposition.

The majority of people rank between these thought patterns, but some clearly represent only one of the two. What is worrying is that the idea of these models is easy to get stuck in. The man who thinks he can be successfully by trying, practices and is successful. While the person who takes everything for granted, begins to wallow in failure. Therefore, these thought patterns are a good theory to know, because it’s so easy to be disappointed by the failures and forget that they are actually new opportunities. Only by identifying why we are afraid of failure, we can overcome the fear of failure in order to face the future challenges.
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It’s easier to prepare for setbacks, when you know that they are coming. Therefore, it should be understood that a large part of sales is putting up the fight. When you accept this fact, you react to a negative answer better. Actually, the "failed" sales are not really failures, but only part of the everyday life of the seller.

How to prepare for a disappointment?

You can prepare yourself for disappointment, for example, by calculating the desired conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of successful sales in relation to sales offers. There are many ways to calculate the margin. For example, you can evaluate the sales of your industry, and keep them as points of comparison.

It is important to stay active even if setbacks come after the other: Create your routines according to which you act, and keep your patience even comes with a lot of setbacks. For example, target for a certain number of sales calls in the morning and in the evening.

You should pay attention to successful sales in the conversion rate. These successful sales should be compiled, for example with feedback. The number of satisfied customers and their comments will tell you what you do well, and they work as a motivators to seek more successes. Although you prepare for disappointment, you should not forget to enjoy the successes.

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Be sure to plan long term goals. If you start to monitor your results on a daily basis, few bad days can ruin your feelings - although on a monthly basis the situation could look very different. When refusals happen, they should be treated professionally. Whining or force-feeding only ensures that the customer is not coming back in the future. Even if the customer didn’t buy, he can buy in the future.

Peer support is also important. Not only for selling, but in entrepreneurship. It’s important to relieve stress and burden - especially in the company of peers. They know what is actually going through. People living in a similar situation are able to empathize strongly the emotions you go through on a daily basis. They also do not judge. Support for others will also help yourself, because you will experience emotional security when you feel that you belong to a community, even when you are not in the presence of the community club. It’s also great to share successes and good vibes with your own community!

Continued refusals may begin to accumulate and result in a crippling sense of negativity. Therefore, it’s important to boost positive emotions! Focus on successes and celebrate received goals - alone or with others. But only by appreciating the feelings of success, you can beat the bad vibes.

Success is stumbling from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

- Winston Churchill


  • Withstanding refusals is a part of sales job, and must be accepted. But do not assume you will fail before you have even gone to the customer, because then you are more likely to fail. In the worst case, uncertainty shines from your body language and choice of words.
  • Refusal is not a personal attack against you or your company. This time benefits of both parties don’t meet.
  • Figure out whether the reason for the refusal of the customer is because of your pitch, your product or you try to sell for the wrong people. Learn from failures and do not be discouraged.
  • Know your customers. By knowing your customer you don’t offer the wrong product for the wrong person. The knowledge and understanding increase the trust.
  • Human develops and learns, as long as it believes.
  • Celebrate your successes! Gather around a network of contractors or vendors who share the same challenges in their work.

Original post in Finnish by Holvi's marketing manager Arttu, who has also his own business: ATiimi. 

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