Tips for Taking Negative Ego Out of Reverse Mortgage Sales

While the word “ego” can often come with negative connotations, there are positive aspects to it that can be important, and which should be accentuated for people who are in positions related to sales. This can be especially important for those aiming to sell reverse mortgages, since a good sales strategy in selling products dedicated to equity release involves projecting confidence without projecting arrogance to seniors.

This is according to Tabatha Addison, VP of sales and development of the wholesale division at American Advisors Group (AAG), during a presentation at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn. last week.

Ego is not always a negative thing

When having discussions specifically centered on ego in a sales environment, the first thoughts many people come to when hearing the word can center far more on arrogance than on confidence. This can potentially harm a reverse mortgage professional’s ability to sell their product, however, because it discounts many of the personality nuances that come with ego which are both positive and negative.

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“Whatever your role in this room, the human part of us has to work first,” Addison said to the assembled audience of reverse mortgage industry players. “We can’t be great leaders or facilitators without first having ourselves in check.”

Those nuances reveal that regardless of a documented association between the word “ego” and the more negative personality attribute of arrogance, accentuating the positive things that come with a person’s ego is important particularly for senior clients.

“In thinking about the word ‘ego,’ the word that comes out in the research at 5-to-1 was ‘arrogant,’” Addison shared. “There are a lot of positive sides to ego, regardless of the largely negative connotations that are perceived in the word. We don’t often realize when the negative side of ego can encroach on the positive side.”

The positive and negative sides of ego

For instance, if a person is confident, that can lead to them being decisive when faced with an important decision, and courageous in pushing a business forward, she said. It’s a conscious choice, however, to try and mitigate the negative attributes of confidence, including being perceived as closed-minded, domineering and intimidating.

Sometimes, those negative aspects associated with a part of a person’s ego can come out in ways that affect the larger business that the salesperson is a part of.

“There can be costs of ego to an organization,” Addison said. “Ego can cost an organization a lot of money because it can attach certain ideas to a person’s identity.”

Finding the right balance

This is where the concept of “egonomics” – a portmanteau of “ego” and “economics” – can come into play, where a person makes choices about how to accentuate the positive aspects of a character attribute while minimizing the negative aspects of that attribute, so that they don’t have a pronounced effect on the employee in isolation or the larger organization.

The idea was first conceived by economist Thomas Schelling and expanded upon with the 2007 publication of a book titled “Egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability)” by David Marcum and Steven Smith.

It can be easier to minimize the effects of the negative side of ego by observing four warning signs, Addison said. These include being comparative (and feeling jealousy or inferiority); seeking acceptance (being conflicted or embarrassed); making an effort to showcase brilliance; and being defensive.

“With egonomics, it’s about learning to control the positive and negative sides of ego, and that’s how the warning signs can be leveraged,” Addison said. “You have to stick with knowing what your triggers are, responding in a positive way and not allowing the negative sides of your ego to take over. That way you’re not confusing your ideas with your identity.”

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