How to Respond to a Rejection Email in Sales

How to Respond to a Rejection Email in Sales

For better or for worse, rejection is a normal part of the sales process. 

Still, as common as it is, rejection can be hard to swallow, even for the most poker-faced sellers. Being rejected can be discouraging, confusing, and demotivating.

It can especially sting over email, where you can’t necessarily hear the sender’s tone. 

Remember: although you can’t control how people respond to you or your offer, you can control how you respond to them. 

And make no mistake — although the sender is ultimately turning you down, every professional sales rep makes it a point to send a response to a rejection email.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to respond to a rejection email, including how to extract the most important information from the rejection while remaining professional and helpful. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Carefully Review the Rejection Email

As prevalent as it is in sales, rejection can trigger all kinds of negative feelings in salespeople. Opening a rejection email might make you feel angry, frustrated, sad, or even anxious. Remember — while unpleasant, this truly is just another part of the sales process

The first step here is to try your best to take a step back and remember to not take the rejection personally. Acceptance is key. 

Instead, use the rejection email as an information-gathering challenge; every “no” is an opportunity to learn more. 

Adopting a growth mindset can go a long way in helping you learn how to use failure to keep moving forward. how to respond to a rejection email: growth mindsetAfter you’ve taken some time to process your emotions, spend some time analyzing the rejection email. Why, specifically, are they turning you down? 

Does it seem like budget is the primary concern, or is it more of a timing issue? 

Is it a hard “no,” or more of a “not right now”? 

Did they give any other reasons, concrete or otherwise, for their rejection? 

What, specifically, about your presentation and/or approach didn’t meet their needs, preferences, or specific scenario? 

Look critically at their email message with careful attention to detail. 

You may also want to look at the rejection email in the context of the rest of your interactions with that prospect. In hindsight, can you identify any signals that you missed throughout the process that, if addressed, could have changed the outcome? 

Remember – most of what we say is non-verbal, as proved in Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s Rule of Communicationhow to respond to a rejection email: rule of communication A salesperson will often realize upon reflection that there were subtle social cues throughout the conversation that may have been indicating a need to adjust the approach. 

cursor-clickEliminate the guessworkKnow when recipients open your emails, click on links, and view attachments

Crafting a Professional Response to Rejection

Although your first instinct might be to leave well enough alone and skip responding to a rejection email, it’s actually best practice to take the time to send a response (even if you’re still feeling a bit stung). 

Avoid the temptation to ignore or delete the rejection message. It’s okay to keep your response short (in fact, that’s probably your best bet), but even a brief acknowledgment is better than none at all. 

Depending on the exact verbiage of the original message, the following tips will help you determine how to respond to a rejection email. Some responses may include just some of these components, while some messages may call for all of them. Use your discretion and what you know about the sender to help you decide what to include. 

Express Gratitude

This part is relatively non-negotiable when it comes to responding to a rejection email: be appreciative. 

Always thank the prospect for their time and consideration — no matter how early in the sales process they opted out — and for the opportunity to learn more about their needs. 

Not only is this polite and best practice but there’s actual science to back it up; brain research shows that gratitude can increase serotonin and dopamine, two of the “happy chemicals” that can influence our moods for the better. 

how to respond to a rejection email: serotonin vs. dopamine

Maintain Positivity

A positive tone is also a must, and sales reps need to be very mindful to not let their (valid!) disappointment creep into the overall takeaway of their response. 

Always be professional and respectful, and absolutely never criticize the prospect for rejecting you (or anything else, for that matter). 

Seek Feedback or Clarification

In some cases, it may be appropriate for the rejected sales rep to solicit feedback about the overall process or more clarity around the rejection. 

This kind of insight can sometimes be hard for reps to hear, especially after the initial rejection, so it’s important that you make it clear that you’re looking for constructive feedback. 

Not only will these insights help improve your process for next time, but it also shows the prospect that you’re willing to improve and that you value their input. 

Keep the Door Open

With select prospects — perhaps those who made it very deep into the sales funnel or those who you suspect might just need a bit more time and nurturing before they decide to sign — there may be a window to keep the door open to future opportunities through your response to their rejection email. 

Be very careful here — this is, by no means, an invitation or excuse to argue, beg, or pressure the prospect to change their mind and re-engage. 

But, if you’re confident that you have a good read on the prospect and feel like they could be receptive to it, you might ask for permission to stay in touch in the future. 

Ultimately, how you respond to a rejection email will depend on the unique relationship you built with the prospect throughout the course of the sales process, up until the point of rejection. 

To the best of your ability, reframe rejection from failure to a chance to learn. When you leverage rejection, you give yourself an opportunity to learn more about your target market, more about your buyer personas, more about overcoming objections, and more about your value proposition.

Tip: Anticipate common prospect triggers and behavior patterns with the free ebook below.

Psychology Principles + 13 Power Words for Winning SalesData-backed psychological principles, nonverbal cues, and persuasive phrases to win more deals.

Examples of Responding to a Rejection Email

Here are two examples of how to respond to a rejection email. 

As a reminder, it’s important to note that there is no one right answer for how to respond to these kinds of messages. The exact language you choose should be based on the relationship you have with the email recipient.

In the following example, let’s imagine that the prospect has made it to one of the later stages of the sales funnel.

After listening to the sales rep’s pitch or proposal, the prospect decides to look elsewhere and sends the sales rep a rejection email. 

Here’s one way the sales rep might respond to that rejection. 

Hi {!Name},

Thanks for getting back to me. Sorry to hear that we aren’t quite what your team was looking for. 

If you don’t mind me asking, can you spare 2 minutes to share a bit more about how you’re going to refine your search moving forward? What are you looking for that we couldn’t provide? 

I’m always looking for ways to meet the needs of folks with similar challenges to yours. Any insights you have would be much appreciated!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if your needs change in the future.


{!Your name}

Notice the way the sales rep maintains a positive and courteous tone throughout their response. They share generous appreciation for the relationship and the prospect’s time and invite feedback (without being pushy).

In the next example, let’s imagine that a sales leader reached out to another organization with the hopes of collaborating. The other company responded with a rejection, explaining that they were already in the middle of a few different high-resource projects. 

Here’s one way the sales leader might respond to that kind of rejection. 

Hi {!Name},

Thanks for getting back to me, and for taking the time to share your thoughts on a potential partnership. Sounds like you’re busy — busy is good!

If it’s okay with you, I’d love to check in sometime in the next 6 months to see if the timing might be better; let me know what you think.


{!Your name}

Again, this sample response is professional, friendly, and appreciative. The sales leader makes an earnest but non-aggressive request to get back in touch at a better time, and leaves the door open for feedback.

Use Yesware to Track and Monitor the Success of Your Email Outreach

Yesware’s Email Templates can help sales reps create, save, and personalize the highest-converting responses to rejection emails. 

how to respond to a rejection email: email template

With a library of ready-to-go templates already available, as well as the ability to write custom templates from scratch, there’s no limit to the number of proven email templates you can store and use throughout the entire sales cycle. 

The Template Tracker gives real-time updates on what’s working.

Our Reporting & Analytics tool gives even more insight into exactly how your prospects react and respond to your messaging and content. 

how to respond to a rejection email: template report

How do you respond to rejection emails? How do you use them to move your sales process forward?

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