Who Mentored Ted?

The Success Margin

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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I've had numerous mentors that have helped shape
and define my life and career.

One of the most influential is the late Ben Feldman
(1912-1993).

Most people would think of Ben as a successful
insurance salesman.

Allow me, dear reader, to tell you a little about
him. And what he taught me.

Ben was one of the most prolific salespeople in
world history.

Here are a few of his accomplishments:

He lived and worked in a small town, East
Liverpool, Ohio.

As a single agent working alone, he personally
outsold many entire insurance companies. His total
sales for New York Life Insurance Company were
$1,800,000,000 (that's One Billion Eight Hundred
Million!) from 1942 until his death in 1993.

To this date, he still holds the world record for the
most products (by value) by a salesman in a career.
In a single day he sold $20,000,000 (Twenty
Million Dollars!).

His annual commission totals exceeded $1,000,000
per year.

Ben had a somewhat eccentric personality (self-
confessed.) He had a gift in talking with people and
helping them understand the value of life insurance.
And proper financial planning for their families.

When once asked how he could sell such enormous
quantities of an intangible product such as life
insurance, Ben responded:

"I do not sell life insurance. Instead I sell a red
wagon and a pop gun for daddy's little boy. A
dress or new doll for daddy's little girl.

I sell a college education for Mary.

I sell food for the kitchen table.

I sell fuel, oil and light.

I sell homes where children play happily in the
front yard. And flowers bloom brightly in the back
yard.

I sell self-respect to old men. But I sell it to
them when they are young.

Life insurance is the most tangible form of
economic security yet devised by man."

Toward the end of his career, Mr. Feldman would
often take two armed bodyguards and duffel bags
containing $1,000,000 in cash on important
appointments.

After presenting his prospects with the sight of
the million dollars, he would hand them a $100
bill. This was to help them understand they could
purchase the benefit of a million dollar policy
for a very small sum.

** What Ben Feldman taught me about success **

* Love your product. Ben believed deeply in life
insurance and bought a million-dollar policy as
soon as he started out and later much more.

* Asking clients questions and actively listening
to the answers is even more important than talking.

* With some creative thinking, you alone can
position yourself favorably in any business of
your choosing.

* Being an eccentric individual is often a great
virtue in life and in business.

* Go the extra mile. Making one more telephone
call and/or just one more appointment each day
results in far greater success each year.

* His use of power phrases helped me a lot with
drafting headlines. For example, a typical
prospect's objection to Ben's presentation of a
large policy to pay estate taxes was, "My
accountant and lawyer are helping me with that."
Ben's typical response was, "Your accountant and
your lawyer compute your tax bill. They will be
very accurate and complete in their work. But I
am the one who will bring the check for a million
dollars to your widow."

* Dramatizing your benefits always helps produce
far greater sales as it touches the real hot
button--your emotions.

* You don't have to be handsome or beautiful to be
successful. Ben was a short, bald, roly-poly human
being. You wouldn't be overly impressed by him in
a crowded room. But through his sincerity,
personality and sense of humor, he endeared
himself to nearly everyone he ever met.

* While it can be a big asset, you don't have to be a
great public speaker to be a success. Naturally very
shy, when Ben was asked to speak publicly he
didn't stand on the stage. He stood behind the
curtain. He had too much stage fright to face the
audience!

Every entrepreneur can gain enormously valuable
tips about success from Bed Feldman. To discover
more about Ben, here are a few books which could
help you:

-- "Creative Selling: The World's Greatest Life
Insurance Salesman Answers Your Questions" by
Ben Feldman

-- "Creative Selling for the 1990's" by Ben Feldman

-- "The Feldman Method" by Andrew H. Thomson

What is your reaction to Ben's approach to
business? Do any of Ben Feldman's success lessons
resonate with you?

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas

© Copyright MMIX Ted Nicholas