Doing nothing costs a lot more

By Lew Nason

Insurance Pro Shop


The late, great Ben Feldman was one of the most successful salesmen in history, and has been written up in the Guinness Book of World Records for his accomplishments. He went from being a $10-a-week butter-and-egg salesman to one of the world's greatest salesmen. Ben made the record books by selling life insurance! For 52 years, from 1941 until his death in 1993, he sold life insurance for New York Life. His lifetime sales volume exceeded $1.5 billion, with one-third of his sales coming after he reached the age of 65. And, he did it all in Liverpool, Ohio, a small town of only 13,000 people.

There have been many books and articles written by and about Ben Feldman that have attempted to explain how he was able to achieve this extraordinary level of success. Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that he mastered the basics, and did them better than any of his competition.

Nothing has really changed in our business, only our perceptions. If you want to be successful selling life insurance (or anything else), then you need to get back to the basics.

One of the primary reasons for Ben Feldman's outrageous success is that for most of his career, he spent two hours every night, from 10:00 P.M. to midnight, studying the field of life insurance. He not only studied life insurance, but also selling methodologies, persuasion skills, financial planning, actuarial tables, and every other subject he could think of that would make him more knowledgeable and, therefore, more capable of "serving" his customers.

In Ben's words, "Read! Study never stops, because publications never stop coming in. It's read and study. And think about what you're studying. Take it apart and put it together. Ask 'why?' And know the answers."

How many of you have the intestinal fortitude to do this?

Ben became respected far and wide for his extraordinary ability to tailor a variety of life insurance instruments to help individuals achieve and maintain financial estates that would live on after them. He became a walking embodiment of "expert power," and because of that power, he had tremendous ability to influence others. As a result, he became a very wealthy, successful, and respected businessman.

As Ben Feldman stated many times to his fellow life insurance agents in his articles, books and talks; "The biggest asset you have is your earning capacity, and that depends entirely on your attitude."

"You haven't done anything wrong. You just haven't done anything, and that's what's wrong."

"If you've got a problem, make it a procedure and it won't be a problem anymore."

"Fundamentals are right down to earth. And one fundamental is: You have to make calls. Nothing happens until you make a call. It's that fundamental!"

Ben Feldman was famous for his "power phrases" that helped motivate his prospects to take action. One of his most famous power phases was, "Doing something costs something. Doing nothing costs something. And, quite often, doing nothing costs a lot more!"

The above quote certainly applies to everyone in this business. There is a price to pay in time and money if you want to be successful in this business. There's also a price you'll pay by doing nothing, and that price is lost sales.

What follows are some of the power phrases Mr. Feldman used to explain the importance of life insurance to his customers, and get them to take action:

"Life insurance is time. The time a man might not have. If he needs time, he needs life insurance."

"The basic purpose of life insurance is to create cash -- nothing more or nothing less. Everything else confuses and complicates."

"Life insurance is the only tool that takes pennies and guarantees dollars."

"Every man has problems that only life insurance can solve. In the young man's case, the problem is to create cash; for the older man, to conserve it."

Mr. Feldman would also say; "You'll have the same problems when I walk out as you had when I walked in, unless you let me take your problems with me."

Ben never allowed himself to be perceived as "selling life insurance". Ben would always position himself in the prospect's mind as selling customized packages of solutions. For example, he would say, "I have here a special educational package for your children's children."

This worked so well, and continues to work today, because people always want something that is specifically designed for them, or anything they perceive to be created specifically for them. All people feel more comfortable buying a product that seems to be a tailored solution for their problem, as opposed to a solution that is identical to the ones that everyone else uses.

Here are two more important quotes from Ben Feldman about selling life insurance...

"The key to a sale in an interview, and the key to an interview is a disturbing question."

"Don't sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do."

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