Success Unfiltered Podcast

learning from failure

Failure and NO can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be! Learning from failure can turn your whole outlook around. 

Each time that you hear a NO, it will be one of two things: failure, or an opportunity to learn and grow. However, that is your choice.

When I still had FITzee Foods, I had a potential partnership with Jamba Juice that I had been pursuing. This was before we made it into the Vitamin Shoppe: it was one of our first partnerships that we knew would be a perfect fit.

Our fresh, healthy, pre-packaged meals and protein bars were a great match for Jamba Juice’s fresh lineup. 

I’d dotted all of my i’s and crossed all the t’s. All I needed was the final YES so that we could finalize the deal and start distribution inside Jamba Juice!

But then, on June 8, 2015, I got a devastating email: “We’re going a different direction.”

That NO was devastating. Everything had been in place, and it looked like it was a done deal. Turns out, I was wrong about that!

But you know me, I bounced back. I look at NO as just another step on the path, another way to keep learning. I was able to learn so many lessons from that NO, and FITzee Foods ended up in the Vitamin Shoppe in ten locations in New York & New Jersey!

Marcus Murphy, a guest on the Success Unfiltered Podcast, is a serial entrepreneur. He’s done almost every sales job imaginable, from selling vacuums as a door-to-door salesman, and is now working for Digital Marketer. He shared his steps for dealing with NO’s and rejections, and I am here to share those tips and tricks with you, because we will all face NO’s and rejections in our businesses.

Learning from Failure

NO doesn’t mean failure unless you let your mind focus on that. 

Sometimes, a NO can feel like it’s time to quit and walk away from your business. But what if, instead of feeling like a failure, you chose to flip the script on failure? 

What if you began learning from failure? Every time that you fail, or hear a NO, it’s a chance for you to do your research and comeback from what feels like a defeat. 

Failure is only truly failure if you fail to learn from it. Otherwise, it’s just another course in your hands on, real life MBA you’re earning.

How can you flip the script and learn from failure? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Ask for Feedback

If you’re willing to humble yourself and learn, the person who said NO to you will be able to give you the exact feedback you need to learn from! Ask them why they said NO? Was it cost? Was it the product?

The feedback may feel personal: what if it was YOU? You’ll have to be prepared for this possibility!

Getting feedback from those who said NO to you will help you to learn and grow: you never know when you’re going to get the information that you need from this feedback that could completely change your business.


Take time to deconstruct what happened. Did you miss parts of the sales process? Did you not build a sense of need and urgency into your pitch? 

This will require that you be brutally honest with yourself, and dig deep. It’s hard, but it’s worth it to learn from the experience!

Work With Your Team

The worst part about a NO is when you’re sharing that NO with your team. You’ve all worked for months on your product and pitch, and in just a few minutes, you have a NO!

Now, they are going to be some key parts of learning. When you all work together to ensure you’re all learning from failure, and you want to improve things you will be able to find a solution that makes clients and leads say YES!

Improve Your Sales Process

What does it take to successfully make it through the sales process?

Have you ever been to the mall, and been confronted by people selling skin care items? They’ve got kiosks in the center of the mall, always have the product in their hands, and quite aggressively market their product. You can’t walk past them without them asking if you want to try a sample … you know exactly who I’m talking about!

Most people avoid them at the mall, because their sales process skips quite a few steps. 

When you skip steps in the sales process, it can almost feel like you’re being assaulted by a sales pitch, and no one wants that!

Instead, take time to learn more about the process. 

In his book, Intimate Behavior, Desmond Morris spoke about the steps towards human intimacy. It all starts with eye to eye connections, and goes all the way to physical intimacy. There are 12 steps in that process: skip any of them, and you’ve lost that connection!

Since sales is all about those human to human connections, it often follows those same steps of intimacy, but instead, it ends with a YES!

When you learn and follow all of those steps, you create a natural progression from initial pitch to final handshake after the deal is done.

Always Be Prepared for a NO

Why is NO so devastating? 

Most of the time, as we’re building our business plans and dreaming about how we will be serving others, NO isn’t even an option we consider! 

Who would say NO to our amazing product? Who would say NO to the service that we offer?

I understand that mindset: I felt that way about Jamba Juice and FITzee Foods! It was a perfect match in my mind, so there was NO reason for them to say NO.

When they did, I was surprised!

That’s why Marcus Murphy recommends always having a plan B. Having a backup plan means that when you hear NO (you will hear NO at some point!), you already know what your next steps are.

Having a back up plan isn’t giving up on your business or your dream. It’s a bounce back plan: it’s what you’re going to lean on when you’re not quite sure what’s next. Plus, if you do your research and ensure that you are learning from failure, your backup plan can help your business dreams soar.

Being prepared for a NO makes the YES feel even better!

In Conclusion

How do you approach NO’s and failure in your business? If you’re a serial entrepreneur, or you’re in sales, you’re probably used to hearing a lot of NO’s and rejections. How do you overcome that failure and keep pushing forward in your business? Do you take time to evaluate what went wrong in your sales process that led to failure? Tell us in the comments, you never know who you will inspire!

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