Rejection From Customers: Why Customers Can Seem So Mean and How to Handle It

Despite all of the perks and joy that can come from being a salesperson in the automotive industry, it can be a very emotionally taxing job. No salesperson is perfect so there are inevitable times when you’re going to say or do certain steps of the process wrong. There are going to be times when you even lose a customer over it. There could even be times when your customer comes in with a chip on their shoulder and you lose them because they were never a buyer in the first place. That rejection from a customer can feel really difficult to take. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with that rejection.  

Don’t Take it Personally

Our industry gets a bad rap, because quite honestly it’s earned it. The traditional way of selling a car involves sales tactics that try to pull the wool over the customers’ eyes so to speak and sell them the most expensive thing you can. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dealerships today that still operate like that, and the dealerships that are trying to do it the right way suffer from the reputation of their competition. If a customer comes into the dealership already defensive and distrusting, that’s something we can try to change through how we treat them, but it’s not always going to work. Know that this kind of customer is mad with the way business has been done in the past and they don’t want to get burned again. It usually has little to nothing to do with who you are as a sales pro or a person.

Lead By Example

As hard as it is to do sometimes, take the customer’s rejection with grace and understanding. Like I’ve stated above, their view of you as a sales pro often has nothing to do with you personally, so don’t lash back at the customer in anger. Apologize for their experience, offer help if they decide to change their mind, and thank them for their time. Changing somebody’s preexisting beliefs about you as a car sales pro is difficult, but we as the new generation can lead that change in the auto industry.

Acknowledge the Feeling

After the customer has left, give yourself the space to feel what just happened. If you try to pivot quickly from that customer to the next, that negative experience is more likely to carry over to the next customer. Instead, go for a short walk, grab a cup of coffee, spend a moment alone. Do whatever you need to do to feel the emotions the customer’s rejection might bring up and reflect on what was out of your control and what you could have done better.  

Prepare for Next Time

Some things are simply going to be out of your control, but acknowledging the things that were in your control can help you form a plan for improvement. Did you greet them and make them feel welcomed at your dealership? Did you set the right expectations with them for what their time at the dealership would look like? Did you show genuine concern for their needs or were you just trying to make the best sale to benefit yourself? Be honest with yourself and be your own biggest critic, but don’t beat yourself up about the things you couldn’t control.


Rejection from customers is inevitably going to happen and it’s never going to feel good. Try not to take the rejection personally because most likely it is a result of the reputation of the auto industry. Act as an example for the rest of the auto industry to follow by responding to the customer professionally. After the customer has left, make sure you acknowledge the negative feelings that have come from the interaction and spend some time with yourself. Lastly, reflect on what you could have done better and let go of what you couldn’t control.