How To Succeed Selling Life Insurance Like The Great Ben Feldman

How To Succeed Selling Life Insurance - Ben Feldman and Cold Calls

Ben FeldmanDear Friends, This is one of the most requested articles on how to succeed in selling life insurance. It has appeared in over twenty magazines and six newsletters, during the past years. This piece is loaded with wisdom from the Legendary Ben Feldman on how to succeed in selling life insurance. Just look at all key life insurance cold call tips, sales tips, and useful marketing information for you to succeed in selling life insurance. This piece from Forrest Wallace Cato was given out by the MDRT for eleven years during their conventions.

In my humble opinion, Ben Feldman’s key to succeeding in selling life insurance was he truly believed in what he did! He had a passion for helping people! And he was always well prepared! Please take a few minutes to read, study, and think about what you have read!

How To Succeed Selling Life Insurance Like Ben Feldman!

Cato: You went from a ten-dollar-a-week butter-and-egg salesman to one of the world’s greatest, wealthiest, and most successful life insurance agents. For fifty-two years you sold insurance for New York Life, from 1941 until 1993. Your lifetime sales volume exceeded $1.5 billion, with one-third of your sales coming after you reached the retirement age of 65. I would like to learn about your practical experiences that made this incredible achievement possible.

Ben Feldman: I never thought I could accomplish all that. I always tried to use it every day, and every hour, wisely. So I just kept trying. The time you spend wisely usually finds its way into your earnings. I figured out what was the most effective way to spend my time. I always tried to improve my ability to overcome objections. So, I would pick myself back up time and time again and start over. If you think you don’t know what to do next, then just keep on thinking. Organized thought is more powerful than anything else.

I tried to never really give up on any prospect regardless of how many times they rejected me. I found that persistence pays. If you keep up your good work then, at some point sooner or later, your good work will keep you up. Increased sales, plus increased speed, and improved skills, all come from the repetition of effective sales habits. Your success in selling life insurance results from proper practice. 

Cato: You were based in East Liverpool, Ohio, a sleepy river town of 13,000 folks on the banks of the Ohio River. Your town has been steadily losing population for many years. You sold during ‘hard times.’ That is to say, you sold when people did not have much money because times were rough and it was difficult for most folks to find work.

East Liverpool’s second claim to fame, is that this town was the birthplace of a football coach, Lou HoltzLou Holtz became the most-winning football coach in college sports history. I interviewed him several times. He was exceptionally high-class for a football coach. He did not yell, curse, threaten, throw things, or strut and he was not a loud-mouth slob. I admired him more than any other football coach I ever interviewed. Lots of people in your market area recognize Lou Holtz. Does the average person in East Liverpool recognize you when you walk down the street?

How To Succeed In Selling Life Insurance – Be Recognized

Ben Feldman: Some folks recognize me. I am not unknown. I have always sought recognition in my sales territory. You need publicity in the territory where you want to sell. You need this publicity to help you to succeed in selling life insurance. Advertising costs too much. So you have to get the right kind of free publicity.

Cato: Do people who pass you on the sidewalk know that you are nationally famous as ‘the man who has great sales power?’

Ben Feldman: There is an image I try to foster. That’s not it. I try to be known as the guy who can help folks with their money concerns and problems. I push that rather than claiming that I have great sales power.

ACCOMPLISHING THE IMPOSSIBLE – To Succeed In Selling Life Insurance!

Cato: How did you manage to sell, year after year, more life insurance by yourself than one thousand life insurance companies in America sold? When each of them had a sales force of many people? How did you accomplish such an incredible feat? This is almost impossible!

Help Other To SucceedBen Feldman: By not wasting even one hour, staying productive all of the time, hard work every day, trying different things, always seeking and welcoming new and different ideas, repeating my winning habits, getting publicity for myself, and learning from the success of other great sales achievers like my dear friends Mehdi Fakharzadeh and Norman G. Levine. I never gave up after a rejection. I always kept trying. And, I worked seven days a week, and these were twelve-hour days. At the end of the day, I would go home and work on developing my responses to objections and I gave presentations to my mirror. I would always read and study for another two or three hours. That was my main form of relaxation. My wife, Fritzie, helped make sure that I had quiet time to do all this. I loved what I was doing. I loved helping people.

Cato: Can you be specific about your winning ‘hard work’ habits?”

Ben Feldman: I can give you two worlds. Preparation always helped me. I read and studied the industry publications, plus related books, they never stop coming. I re-read and remembered what I learned. You should think about what you are studying and how that applies to your situation.

Chutzpah was part of it for me. Every week I made thirty to forty, face-to-face insurance cold calls to offices or homes. There were no warm-up encounters or introductions beforehand. There were no pre-approach letters. I had no advance referral calls. I simply walked right up and asked to see the prospect. This was my no-apologies approach. Knowing that I really wanted to help them contributed to my confidence.

THE NOW-FAMOUS FELDMAN METHODS – To Succeed In Selling Life Insurance!

Cato: Please tell me about your sales methods.

Ben Feldman: Well Wally, I rarely use the telephone because it is so easy to get rejected over the phone. The prospect may not want to see me. I have a better chance of seeing the prospect I wanted to see and talking with that prospect if I go where the prospect is. I see the people. Besides, phone-answering ladies and secretaries have become very good and screening people and blocking people. They think they are protecting their boss. Or possibly they are following the boss’s orders to see that they are not disturbed too much. They’ve learned to take you apart. They ask, Who, Why, What for? What company? So you don’t always get past them. I seldom call on the phone. I simply go visit.

Cato: Would you tell us more about your visits with insurance prospects – these are essentially your cold calls? You claim that every encounter is a cold call for insurance.

Ben Feldman: On calls, I just walk right in if I can, and my first barrier is usually the secretary or the receptionist. On the phone, they can stop me dead. But face-to-face, the odds are that I’ll get in. It is more difficult to reject anyone when eye-to-eye. And when I go I often have something to leave with her even if I am rejected.

I Attract Attention to Myself

Cato: What do you leave with her?

Ben Feldman: It’s a pair of little golden slippers. She doesn’t know what they are until I’m gone. Then she opens a little box. My card is also in the little box. Then I often get a thank you note. People don’t usually give her anything. She remembers me and from then on I usually get in. I attract attention to myself in the most positive way I can. Remember what Napoleon Hill said. He said, “Honest men invite publicity.”

Cato: It has often been reported that you are very direct.

Ben Feldman: I am. I’m very frank. Very open! But above all, I try to make things very clear and simple. I try to get to my point as quickly as I can. I do this from the beginning, I just say I want to meet so-and-so, whatever his name is. And, of course, I always know his correct name. The receptionist ordinarily announces me, but it is a cold call, and the odds are the insurance prospect doesn’t want to see me. I often get rejected at this point. The insurance prospect may not want to see me but to me, he is still my prospect. I still want to help him be protected or to be better protected.

Is Rejection The End For You Selling Life Insurance

Cato: If you get rejected is that the end of your trying to make that life insurance sale?

Ben Feldman: No! Not necessarily. I do not believe that a rejection means it is going to be impossible to close a life insurance sale. The first rejection may be the beginning of a successful relationship. There are many ways of saying ‘no’ and some ways mean ‘maybe.’ Many good folks won’t see me the first time. That isn’t so bad. Rejection is not always final or absolute. I never give up on a prospect after a few mere rejections from that prospect. Even strong rejections are not final if you can get your prospect to reconsider. You have to be careful and sensitive in how you follow up after an initial rejection. But above all, please know that rejection is no reason to quit. As long as you have hope you have a chance to succeed in selling life insurance.

Cato: Why isn’t it a waste of time to try again once you have been rejected?

Ben Feldman: Again I quote Napoleon Hill. He said, “Most failures could have been converted into success if someone had held on another minute or made one more effort.”

And when I go back I’m not a stranger. I’ve been there before. If I go back I may have a forty percent chance, or even less. But that is still something I can work with. If my prospect has a brain then I have a shot at getting him to re-think or re-consider. Most of my sales are made on the second or third call!

“Most of my life insurance appointments and sales are made on the second or third cold call!” 

Cato: I’ve read that you consider any type of visit or encounter to be the same as an insurance cold call. How do you prepare for any type of visit… for an insurance cold call?

Ben Feldman: I consider everything to be a cold call for insurance. They are the same. And neither is very difficult. The dynamics are identical. I used Dun & Bradstreet to learn who the owner was and who the key personnel were and to get other information about the company. So I could talk about the company. I tried to learn the age of the owner in advance and anything else that might be related. So, I am always conversational and informed.

Cato: How many times would you go back if you were rejected?

Ben Feldman: I guess you could say I was relentless. There was no certain number. The numbers varied. I’m sure there were some cases where I only went back three or four times. I’m not saying I never ceased. But I am saying rejection is not the end and you should go back as long as there is some chance you can make the sale. Most often it is just your gut feeling on this.

Over time the receptionist would become my ally. I generally went back again and again. If I call twice or more and keep getting rejected she would probably start to feel sorry for me. Now she’s rooting for me. Then she would often do her best to get the door open for me. Especially if she feels I would be helping her boss. You’ve got to have disturbing things to say to the receptionist that will make her boss want to see you, just as you have the same disturbing things to later say to the owner. Eye-opening things that will make your prospect think. If your prospect thinks so, then he will consider it. So you must make your prospect think.

Lew Nason’s Cold Calling Alternative to Succeed Selling Life Insurance

Lew Nason, head of the famous Insurance Pro Shop® insists, “I recommend the effective use of referrals, Joint Venture Partners, and educational workshops over straight insurance cold calls. It is not natural for agents or advisors, to cold call strangers to ask them to buy insurance. People selling anything resent having to do this. Phoning unknown folks is also very frustrating.”

Nason continued, “Of course, there have been lots of changes since Ben Feldman’s day, but many truths and sales techniques remain timeless. Cold insurance sales calls remain necessary, but they are not a necessary evil. I enjoy helping people and making a difference in people’s lives, so I always enjoyed cold calling for insurance. And that played a part in enabling me to close nine out of ten sales and make a ‘name’ for myself.”

Ben Feldman originated many now-famous quotes about how to succeed in selling life insurance. Those are detailed in other IPS newsletters. Possibly his best-known phrase was the simple line: “See the people. He also insisted, Making lots and lots of money is hard work until you learn what to do that works best for you, and then keep doing that correctly.

How To Succeed In Selling Life Insurance!

Do you want to guarantee you will succeed in selling life insurance? Then as Ben Feldman says… “be known as the guy who helps folks with their money concerns and problems! 

You will succeed in selling life insurance when you decide to learn how to deliver a constant message about how you are helping people!

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“The key to a life insurance sale is an interview, and the key to an interview is a disturbing question.”


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