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Director of Sales
More From Cheri
On family. As a child, I was shy and somewhat reserved, but my father always pushed me to achieve more. He was always telling me that I had strong leadership traits. He instilled in me the courage I needed to take on new challenges.
On friendship. I've known my best friend for over 20 years. Although we don’t live in the same town any longer, we still talk on a regular basis. She is a fantastic listener and has always been there when I've needed her. It's great to have someone who always has your back.
On literature. My favorite book is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett—a heartwarming story that explores the struggles of black women serving white families in the old South. I was touched by the way the three female characters came together for a united cause.
On television. I enjoy Modern Family and The Office. Childish, slapstick humor.
On what she'd tell her younger self. Gain as many different experiences as you can throughout your career. It’s important to continually challenge yourself by taking on new positions, new opportunities, and even new projects. Operating only within your comfort zone will never allow you to grow to your full potential.
As a leading sales professional and single mother of two, Cheri O'Neil is no stranger to staying resilient in the face of adversity. Cheri's strong work ethic, for which she credits her supportive parents, has landed her coveted assignments, while her hands-off management style has consistently guided her team to success. Here, the tenacious leader sheds insight on how to handle one of the more difficult inevitabilities of professional life: rejection. Whether you're selling ideas and products in your current job or plotting your next career maneuver, heed her advice to navigate your way around a closed door—and through the next one.
Know your audience. You have to understand who it is you’re trying to convince, as well as what that person is looking for from you. Whether you’re selling your product to a customer or proposing a new project to a supervisor, seeing your idea from the opposite perspective is critical. Take advantage of every resource you might be able to use to make your case, and be aware that the business climate can greatly impact someone's decision to come on board.
Know what you're up against. Before you approach an individual with a pitch, visualize every possible outcome. Be ready for each different type of response you may get, including that painful (and even probable) “no.” By preparing yourself for every alternative, you’ll be better able to handle whatever reaction you get with grace and poise. After all, you don’t want to burn any bridges—a "no" today could become a "yes" somewhere down the line.
Know it's not personal. Encountering a rejection can be demoralizing and leave you feeling defeated or beaten down—especially when you’ve put yourself out there multiple times without getting any positive responses. Changing your perception to see each “no” as a step toward a “yes” can take the sting out of repeated rejection, as can remembering that many factors that contribute toward these decisions are beyond your control.
Know even more. A rejection usually comes when someone perceives that you don't have the ability to solve a particular problem. If you find that you are talking more than you are listening to what is needed, you’ll likely find yourself losing the sale. Asking the right questions can give you insights on how you might better serve the other person's needs. If you propose a solution without much success, you may be able to turn things around by probing more and suggesting an alternative. Sometimes making the effort can be enough to change somebody's mind.
Know it ain't over. Even if you don’t land a sale or convince someone to invest in your idea, you can still learn valuable lessons from the experience. Rejection allows you to grow, both personally and professionally, and the most frustrating situations sometimes end up being our greatest teachers. Coming out of a rejection, you'll know more about yourself and what others might be looking for in the future. You might even uncover some new opportunity of which you had no previous knowledge! Hold your head high, and continue plugging away. It never hurts to ask for what you want—even if nothing is gained, neither will anything be lost.