Plus it's an awful lot of hard worked riddled with daily rejection.
You couldn’t tell that to Ben Feldman though. Ben was eighty-one when
he died November 7, 1993. He started selling life insurance just before World
War II. The rest as they say is history. He almost single-handedly changed the
And he was just a sales person - but what an incredible and extraordinary sales
person he was.
It’s been said that he didn’t look like a salesman, didn’t
sound like a salesman, and didn’t act like a salesman. Ben was different
in every imaginable way.
If you want to succeed in sales you have to be different - keep reading.
Here’s some background on Ben Feldman. He was born to Russian, Jewish
immigrants that settled in eastern Ohio. At his father’s insistence he
dropped out of school to sell eggs for $10 a week. He met Fritzie Zaremburg,
a teacher, who later became his wife.
After selling insurance to all his friends and relatives, he then targeted
businesses in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Without going beyond a
sixty mile radius, he often sold more insurance in a day than most agents would
sell in a year.
In the 1970’s it was reported that he personally sold more insurance
than 1,500 of the largest 1,800 life insurance companies.
Imagine that he single-handedly outsold 1,500 entire companies. He was obviously
the consummate sales person.
During his lifetime, he sold insurance policies with a face value over $1.5
billion. One-third of it was sold after he turned sixty-five.
According to many, Ben wasn’t ordinary - he was exceptional. Harry Hohn,
Chairman of New York Life at the time said, "Ben really felt everyone in
the world was underinsured."
He believed passionately in his product and how it could help and benefit his
customers which of course helped him become the consummate sales person.
You see, he was genuinely excited about his products which in turn got his
sales prospects and customers fired-up about his products too.
Ben knew how to really WOW his customers. His words were his craft. According
to Rick Hampson, an AP writer, "He’d sit up late, crafting the pithy
sayings that he called power phrases and rehearse them with a tape recorder."
He knew perfection came from practice. And boy did he ever practice.
He achieved one goal after another. In 1975 he was the first salesperson to
sell $2 million in a single week.
He was extremely goal focused becuase he was the consummate sales person.
"He sold life insurance by talking about life, not death. People didn’t
die, they walked out, as in, when you walk out, the money walks in - the insurance
money," according to Rick Hampson. Taped inside the front cover of his
presentation binder were a $1,000 bill and several pennies. He would tell his
customers, "For these," pointing to the pennies, "you can get
this" - the bill.
He was creative, very creative!
In 1992, New York Life created an insurance selling contest they called "Feldman’s
February." The program was to commemorate his fifty years of selling life
insurance. The national contest was of course in honor of Ben’s history
with the company.
Obviously no one told that to Ben. He viewed it as a challenge and won the
contest himself. He was eighty years old and in a hospital recovering from a
cerebral hemorrhage during the month of February.
That February, he sold $15,150,000 worth of insurance from his hospital bed.
Ben had an incredible selling attitude.
He never gave up.
He never, never, never, never gave up.
Listen to some of Ben’s phrases and how his words worked magic. Imagine
hearing them as you consider making a decision to buy insurance from the consummate
"No one ever died with too much money."
"Do you know anyone who has a lease on life? It isn’t a question
of if; it’s a question of when."
"Put me on your payroll. The day you walk out, I’ll walk in and
pay your bills."
"The key to a sale is an interview, and the key to an interview is a disturbing
"Most people buy not because they believe, but because the sales person
A little side-bar here: Unfortunitley most of today's salespeople have this
twisted belief that the customer gets excited first. Well - that's not how it
works. Never has and never will.
For Ben, success wasn’t fleeting, it was consistent. He loved his product.
He loved his customers. He loved his company. He loved his work.
Here’s something for you to think about. If Ben Feldman sold for your
company, how would he do it?
How well would he do it?
Ben’s gone now. His legacy, however, should serve as an inspiration to
all that call sales a profession.
Ben Feldman gave new meaning to an old profession.
Ben was the consummate sales person because he blended hard work with a passion
for his work and his products.
Nothing hard about that - right?