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The Importance of Ego

It takes a strong ego to face rejection, but do you know where the line is between assertive and abrasive?

By Bill Brooks

Research clearly shows that a strong ego is essential for sales success. It is also key for strong leaders. But here’s the rub: An out-of-bounds ego can get in the way of a lot of things. Friendships, business relationships, business strategies, alliances and careers have all been destroyed by ego clashes. Not to mention what happens when an out-of-control ego alienates prospects and loses customers!

A strong ego needs to be tempered with a good dose of intuitive insight, empathy and diplomacy. Mix unbridled arrogance with a lack of any of these four components, and you are looking for trouble.


Key for salespeople
It takes a strong ego for a salesperson to face rejection, refusal and the rigors of constantly having to persuade someone to see your point of view. But remember, there is a significant difference between being assertive and abrasive. There is also a big difference between being persistent and being a pest; your value is in knowing the difference. In the final analysis, the strongest performers are the ones who understand those subtle differences. How about you? Do you know when a prospect is telling you, “I’m not interested?”

Let’s take a look at six principles to keep in mind as you exercise your ego:

  1. Understand that success depends, a great deal of the time, on finesse rather than power.
  2. You need to know when to back up and let a situation, co-worker, subordinate or prospect have a rest from your “assault.”
  3. Understand that there is a difference between interrupting someone and pounding on them to buy your product or service, and allowing them to step up when they are ready to discuss your idea.
  4. The tone of your voice, body language and written communication can help or hinder your positioning.
  5. People want to do business with people who are competent, punctual, professional and sensitive to their needs.
  6. Your time schedule may not necessarily match your prospect’s. In fact, it probably won’t!

As I reflect on my years of business and sales experience, I can’t help but be reminded of situations where others or I attempted to violate any of these six simple principles. Over the long haul, these principles have held up time and again.

Yes, your agenda is important—just as the other person’s is important to him. And it isn’t just about meeting somewhere in the middle. The problem with sales is that you have to meet your prospect far beyond the middle. After all, he is in control. At least in my sales career he is, and probably in yours as well. If you’re not sure that is the case, you are either selling something that sells itself, or you haven’t been around long enough to figure that out yet.

Bill Brooks is the founder and CEO of The Brooks Group, a sales and business development research, training and consulting firm. He is the author of 14 books including The New Science of Selling and Persuasion: How Smart Companies and Great Salespeople Sell. To get his free monthly email sales newsletter, send an email to or call 336-282-6303.


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