Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Consummate Sales Professional

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to make it through the day, and this amazing true story is just that. I read about it in Jim Meisenheimer's newsletter - take a few minutes to read it and see it inspires you to bring some enthusiasm and creativity to your day!

Ben Feldman started selling life insurance just before World War II. The rest as they say is history. He almost single-handedly changed the insurance industry. 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. You should be too! If you want to succeed in sales you have to be different.

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. 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. 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.

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, not improvisation. And boy did he ever practice.

"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.

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.

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.

"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 question."

"Most people buy not because they believe, but because the sales person believes."

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.

Jim Meisenheimer publishes The Start Selling More Newsletter, a fresh and high content newsletter dedicated to showing salespeople how to start selling more. To subscribe and receive a copy of his special report, The 12 Dumbest Things Salespeople Do, visit www.StartSellingMore.com.

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