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Where do I fit in?



Where Do I Fit In? Rethinking “Sales” as not a dirty word.

For many people, one of the dirtiest words in the English language is spelled s-e-l-l. The image of the used car salesman or a telephone huckster evokes apprehension and distaste.

Yet everything in life involves “sales” in one form or another. How did you build the new fence in front of your house? Somebody had to sell you the wood and nails. And before that, a supplier had to sell these items to the lumber company or hardware store where you purchased them.

It’s amusing, if you think about it: everybody loves a “sale”, but add an “s” and the word assumes a negative connotation. So this is the first misperception to recast.

Sales, according to Shannon Hicks, vice president of marketing and product development for ReverseFocus.com, is best defined as: “Effective communication in order to help people make decisions in their best interest.”

Next, determine your optimal sales skill set. As a reverse mortgage professional, are you most effective on the telephone or in person? Speaking one-on-one, or to a group? Playing to your strengths will enhance your success.

The core sales traits include:

  • persistence
  • confidence
  • motivation
  • education

Beyond this, a plethora of personality factors will determine your approach. Take an inventory of your strong and weak points when relating to others. If you find you’re more relaxed and articulate over the phone than in face-to-face meetings, for example, plan to do the bulk of your reverse mortgage counseling by telephone or Skype session (if your prospects are Internet savvy).

There’s no need to force a square peg into a round hole, especially when everyone shines in certain areas. People who excel as motivators can be formidable in captivating a large audience, while educators may be better suited to building kitchen table relationships.

We have aspects of each core trait within us, and can certainly work on developing our weaker areas. Knowing where your strengths lie will also affect how resourceful you are in building your business: if you accept that you’re not a powerful lead generator, for instance, it may behoove you to partner with a lender who provides leads, rather than frustratingly trying to go solo.

The greater your self awareness, the more fulfilling the service you’ll be able to offer seniors to help them make the best decisions for their retirement years.


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

Leave a Comment


  1. Ms. Rose,

    Your blog puts sales in perspective. Our industry should embrace it.

    While the strategy we may employ in presenting our message is educational in its roots, our true function is sales. Even as the partner in charge of taxes at the ninth largest CPA firm in LA County, I had a limited sales responsibility.

    As a CPA, I have looked inside of many industries. This industry segment is one of the strangest. Our industry is based entirely on cultivating new participants. It is all about marketing and that dirty little word “sales.” It is utterly amazing that the largest producers in our industry have consistently denied that they sell. They claim to educate. They are actually trying to say they limit their pressure tactics which is an accurate description for many.

    When the managing partner at my old CPA firm was asked what he did at our firm, he would straighten up, throw out his chest, put on a huge smile, and proudly proclaim: “I sell.”

    Why are we ashamed of selling HECMs? It is ridiculous. HECMs are a great product and I do not have a single borrower of whom I am ashamed for originating any reverse mortgage. Many have complimented our team for spending the time and providing the information we do. They feel we care about them and gave them the information they needed and by limiting as much pressure as possible allowed them the space to make the right decision.

  2. James,

    You are a tremendous voice for the reverse mortgage industry. I enjoyed the way you describe your former firm’s managing partner. Had I known this earlier, I would definitely have included it in the article. What an excellent way of honoring the place sales has in moving business forward!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Ms. Rose,

      We need people calling us back to basics. You do a great job of that.

      Our future is bright but our immediate horizon is still dark. We have a lot of problems and potential problems to deal with. Sometimes we get lost in those problems rather than in their solutions.

      I look at the overemphasis on education as a hindrance to allowing ourselves the right to be ethical and responsible salespeople. No one is fooled by these slogans. They just look at our commercials and say inside: “sure you are educators and not salespeople.” We are what we are and a HECM is not a product I am ashamed of selling. I am just careful to allow the seniors I deal with the courtesy and time they need to reach their decision.

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