Ego starts to form at the moment you have your first painful experience in life. You begin protecting yourself with a wall which you build one brick at a time, outwards, and upwards. And as you receive slights, disappointments, you hurt yourself, you’re shamed for role failure (school, parents, peers) you keep building the wall to protect yourself.
Shutting people out, never letting people in, being afraid to ask questions or ask for help for fear of looking stupid, weak, inadequate, becoming a perfectionist so no one can ever shame you again like you were shamed when you decided, “Never again will anyone make me feel that way again” are all reactions to our sense of Who we are, our Identity, taking some kind of beating and wanting to protect ourselves from feeling diminished like we did when at some point or points in our history.
Ego is the voice in your head when you’re having an argument with your spouse that says, “Are you going to let her get away with that?” and despite the sensible voice in your head telling you not to do it, you do it anyway and you say something you are just about to regret for 3 weeks and suffer from a bad back from sleeping in the doghouse. Scoring points in a marriage or relationship rarely results in long term happiness for both parties, does it?
And in sales, how often is our ego our own undoing?
We are focused on our wants and needs so we project that to the prospect and they feel like we don’t have their best interests at heart. We are preoccupied with the row we are going to face when we get home so we don’t pay attention to what they are saying, and we ask a question that proves we weren’t listening, so we prick their egos and before you know it, we’re both at it. Scoring points, proving we are more credible, wise or knowledgeable than they are. If our egos are really huge we will not even realise what ewe are doing to others.
A financial planner I know visited an accountants to review one of their client’s portfolios. He spent the whole time saying how good he was, how bad and stupid the client was and how badly he’d been advised. In the end the accountant asked him to leave and he was left with the impression they liked him, they see the value he offers and that they will refer future business his way. I know the accountant and they will NEVER do business with him. Some people are blighted with a high sense of self that far outstrips their aptitude or altitude.
Ego is the thing that stops us from asking questions for fear of appearing ignorant, unprepared or naïve. Yet when I ask naïve questions I often get thanked by the others in the room who I’d assumed understood what was going on, but didn’t and my question and the answer that followed it helped them get clarity too. Ego is what limits us to charging market rate than premium based on the value you deliver to the prospect. Ego prevents you from allowing yourself to dare, to push to the limits of your talents and prevents you from turning your talents into strengths. Ego stops you talking about money with ease and comfort. It’s ego that is the nagging voice of self-doubt that undermines you so you regularly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It is ego that makes us feel like we are not worthy to be in the presence of people more successful that ourselves. It’s ego that causes us to fail to take responsibility, to see role failure as a personality defect, to believe we are bad people or doing a bad, dirty thing when we sell, when we discuss money, when we talk to strangers, when we make money easily. And it’s ego that causes us to think we know best, “Here, let me show you how I’d do that” or “Do you know what you should do?”,and blames and diminishes others, “You always do that”, “You’ve ruined everything”.
Ego NEVER serves you well and is guaranteed to find its match in someone else who as insecure and dysfunctional as you are (i.e. nearly every other member of the species). You will take one of three positions. That of Victim (“Why does this always happen to me? Life is sooooo unfair”), Persecutor (“You are a failure. You are a disappointment. You always ruin things. I might have known you’d mess this up! Typical!” and that of Rescuer (“I was only trying to help”, “You’re doing it wrong. Here! Let me have a go!”)
Staying non-attached to the outcome, letting go of your ego, being mindful and focused on the present moment takes you out of this dark and dangerous place. It leads to clarity and cohesion between you and your prospect. It leads to partnerships where you co-develop solutions and move forward by mutual agreement. You develop relationships based on mutual agreement, mutual understanding and mutual acceptance towards shared objectives. No mind reading. No mutual mystification.
Great salespeople never let their ego get between them and the reason they are in front of the prospect. Nor do they ever forget a good result is a clean Yes with an order, a clean No with a clear future next step, a clean No with a referral or a clean No with a lesson. Anything else and you have just wasted their time and yours.
Never allow yourself (ego) to get between the prospect and their decision to buy.