Who Mentored Ted?

The Success Margin

Saturday, January 17, 2009


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 milliondollars 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 ina 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