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We fear what we do not understand


What happens when someone is confronted with something they don’t know or understand? They experience anxiety, apprehension, or even panic. It’s safer to avoid stepping out into the unknown or even worse to find out our biases are not rooted in fact. Consequently, most do not take the necessary steps to achieve a meaningful change in their circumstances. Remember that human emotion is always baked into the sales equation. 



Here’s a maxim each salesperson or reverse mortgage professional should commit to memory. Apprehension is inversely proportionate to understanding. 


The less a homeowner knows about reverse mortgages the more likely they fear the loan while understanding fosters a sense of calm or even confidence.


Mortgage Professionals of America reports that WSFS Mortgage’s recent survey of 750 homeowners aged 60 and over, found that 79% of those familiar with the concept believe it could help them age in place, while 76% see it as a means to enhance cash flow during retirement. 



Does this mean we should counter a homeowner’s fears with a barrage of facts and figures or walk through every nuance of a proposal? Not so much.



Insight Demand CEO Michael Harris says salespeople should be countering emotion with emotion. Instead, “Telling a story that paints the buyer as a hero, or makes the fear of status quo seem more frightening than the fear of change”, says Harris.  The stories must be relatable to the individual and crafted around what you’ve learned about the homeowner’s background, career, or interests. 



The stories we tell should focus on providing specific insights into the homeowner’s objections or fears. Harris calls these Insight Scenarios.“Look for the biggest gaps in what your customer believes today and what they need to believe to buy your product”, says Harris. For example, if the fear is that the home won’t go to the heirs then recount the story of one of your borrower’s adult children who successfully purchased or acquired the home after their parents passed.



Stories should be:


  1. Relatable
  2. Specific
  3. Concise
  4. Weave in the specific facts about the reverse mortgage



If there’s one thing older homeowners and every individual should fear, it’s the status quo. For most, that means remaining cash flow constrained, stressed about meeting unexpected expenses or missing out on opportunities to travel to visit family members. It’s okay to ask what’s their Plan B if they don’t get a reverse mortgage. What would they personally sacrifice if they did nothing? 


What stories can you tell homeowners who fear the unknown? What follow-up questions will you ask? Make a plan and prepare to meet your prospect’s fear of the unknown with stories that speak directly to their heart and mind. Embrace the fact that emotions are part of the rational decision-making process.



All the best in your sales endeavors.



Leave a Comment


  1. Selling is nothing more than satisfying a need. The first step is to establish the need. We can agree many, but not all, seniors can benefit with a Reverse Mortgage. Our job is to get those who can benefit from a Reverse to raise their hands.

    There’s a great book entitles, “Sell With a Story”, by Paul Smith, that makes selling so much easier when you can master the technique. Telling a story can be fiction as long as it’s factual. Have you ever seen the disclaimer, “This story is based on actual events”? That means they embellished a little. We have the right to embellish in the right situation, as long as it’s not B.S.!

    • Thank you, Thomas. Good insights and context.

    • Interesting this right you claim. Where does it come from?

      I read stories from some that 2024 is so much better than 2023. Yet endorsements and Case Number Assignments do not show that

      So either we are hearing from only winners OR…. Perhaps some are using an element of truth to create fiction you know like historical fiction. Then again maybe fiction ain’t a strong enough word.

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