If you market through email, you probably ran into these two words before, and probably more than once:

“Not interested.”

Of course, you’ve probably seen many versions of that message, some being nastier than others. Does “Go to hell” sound familiar?

There’s no other way to frame it: sending cold emails means that you’ll have to deal with rejection – and lots of it. If that’s outside your realm of comfort, you’re in the wrong business. The question is not if you’ll be receiving a negative reply, but when. Still, receiving a large volume of negative replies does not mean that you should stop sending cold email.

Don’t Let Feedback Discourage You

Even with companies specialized in sending cold emails, with well-researched content and with copy written by professional copywriters, it’s not uncommon to see a 50% negative reply ratio.

Regardless of the divide in reception, what’s important are the positive replies.

That’s why I don’t like to focus on minimizing negative replies. The only way to ensure 0% negative replies is to never send emails.

The only choice we have is how we deal with rejection.

Cold Mail Conversions Demand Patience

Say, for instance, you’ve received five replies on the first day of your campaign, all of them being negative. You can take this response to heart and shut the campaign down the next day.

But, what if that campaign resulted in 10 replies on the second day, all of them being positive? You will have likely lost out on some big profit, all because of some negative comments.

That should outline the importance of pursuing your campaign despite a tough crowd response. If this niche hasn’t hardened your hide to feedback yet, it sure will eventually.

Dealing With Rejection

There are two main schools of thought on how to deal with rejection.

The first is to, essentially, “toughen up”. In this approach, you get better at dealing with negativity through practice. You persevere because you understand that there’s no telling what kind of emotional space your recipient is in. Also, you keep in mind the fact that you’d be doing a disservice to them if they would have benefitted from your offer if your emotions didn’t hold you back. 

The second approach, and my favorite, is to simply pay no attention to rejection at all. Use your Gmail filter to round up all messages with common hate words so that you never see a nasty email. Or, set up an automated campaign, only coming back to check your inbox in a week or so when there will likely be a healthy spread of good and bad feedback.

Another approach is to pay a virtual assistant $6/hour to filter your inbox and archive all the negative replies.

Feedback Is a Useful Tool

The drawback with this approach is that it results in you missing out on some valuable feedback. When a reply contains some constructive criticism (rather than the standard, three-letter “Go to hell”), your recipient is doing you the favor of outlining the problem with your campaign, letting you know (sometimes in a variety of colorful words) how you can improve it to obtain a more favorable reach.

Let’s imagine that your cold emails are carefully crafted dialogue starters, you’ve done your research, your pitch is clear, and you have no intention of employing shady marketing tactics to get a reply. Looks pretty good, right?

Right, except the vast majority of your replies are negative. Most of them read like a variation of, “Take me off your mailing list.”

If your end goal is to sell, receiving mainly negative feedback won’t seem helpful at all. In the long run, though, you might find that this burst of criticism wound up helping you in your career. Tough feedback is actually a very good thing. It shows you what sort of sample you’re better off avoiding. Your campaign’s poor reception serves as evidence that your methods are in need of improvement.

Spinning the Conversation

With all of that said, a skillful sales person can convert even the most binary “No” into a “Maybe”.

For example, your recipient replies to your approach with, “Hey, I’m not interested because I happen to be in Europe so this isn’t a good fit for me, please don’t contact me.”

In this case, if you happen to have a few contacts in Europe, it’s completely reasonable to reply with something like, “Hey, no problem, but just so that you know, we’ve got six companies in Europe that are doing X, Y, Z, and you can still benefit from this if you’re interested.”

This turns the rejection on its head and puts the ball in their court. In little time at all, you might have a dialogue going from an initial reply that seemed like a dead end.

Even if the email is a pure rejection that offers little to no elaboration, you can ask your contact if they’d have the time to provide you with details on how you can improve your approaches moving forward.

The majority of your recipients won’t put time aside to write you some notes, but send enough follow-up emails and you’re bound to see some good feedback. From that sample, there’s a chance that the digital chit-chat might lead to a productive conversation.

Still, time is money, and changing someone’s mind when they initially responded negatively to your approach is time- and energy-consuming. In most cases, especially when working in high volume, your hours will be better spent generating positive leads from new contacts.

Think about your market size. If there are only 100 people in your campaign, then maybe reaching out to each one individually makes sense. If there are thousands of recipients, your time is generally worth more if you spend it working on the positive replies.

Keep Soldiering Forward

In the end, negative replies are part and parcel of email marketing. They will come, no matter what you do and regardless of whether you’re ready for them. The key takeaway here is finding the value – if any – of negative feedback, finding your own way to cope with it, and never allowing it to prevent you from moving forward.