Last week, I stumbled across the story of Ben Feldman. Ben was a short, pudgy, droopy-eyed, balding man that talked with a lisp. He didn’t look like salesperson, or do the cheesy salesman rituals (back-slapping and two handed handshakes come to mind). He wasn’t funny or charismatic, but he did believe in the product he was selling.
Ben Feldman was an life insurance salesman and, by all accounts, he was the greatest one the world has ever seen. In the 1970’s, Ben personally wrote more business than 1,500 of the nation’s 1,800 life insurance companies. He’d often write more business in a single day than most others would write in a full year.
Ben was a workaholic. He saw four to five prospects a day, but he didn’t just “see” them – he knew everything about their businesses. The man did his research.
It’s often said life insurance isn’t the best investment for most of us, but Ben’s clients were young ambitious business owners. Most of his clients were perfect-fits for the coverage he was selling. He knew he was helping people and his conviction showed.
He spent hours crafting “power phrases”.
Ben said things like:
“When you walk out (pass away), the money walks in.”
“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.”
But what really grabbed my attention was this quote:
“If I don’t buy it, I can’t sell it”
Ben’s own life insurance coverage was $6 million.
That statement reminded me of a story Zig Ziglar once shared. Zig had a co-worker struggling to sell the same high-end cookware that made Zig a wealthy man. After a brief conversation, it was discovered the struggling salesman didn’t own the very cookware set he was trying to sell. Zig Ziglar INSISTED the man buy the cookware immediately.
How can you overcome the objection “The cookware is too expensive for us”, if you don’t own a set yourself? The lad probably gave in the minute he heard the “expensive” objection, because he believed it himself.
Long story short, the under-performing salesman purchased the cookware and quickly became successful.
I imagine, after purchasing the cookware, the “too expensive” excuse was met with something like – “I felt that way too, but in the six months since I bought my set, I’ve saved $100 in cooking supplies. And these pots will be the last set you ever have to buy. A tight budget is all the more reason to buy this set. You’re actually LOSING money everyday you DON’T have these in your kitchen.”
(By the way, to “LOSE money” is a much more powerful phrase than to “SAVE money.” – maybe I’ll cover that in another post.)
As I thought about this “buy what you sell” topic, I recalled that my previous branch manager carried pest control and termite coverage with us. It seemed silly for a man that was more than capable of performing the duties himself would pay to have them completed by branch technicians.
I just assumed he wanted to get an idea of how well we were performing the services.
Little did I know, this HIGHLY regarded sales expert was following an important sales model – Buy what you sell.