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The Feldman Method Part 1: How Insurance Producers can Overcome Objections with Creativity

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Mark Sonders

Sonders' Selling Tips

Let's jump into the mind of one of the world’s greatest insurance salesman. 

He's a world record holder AND in your industry. To understand what made Ben Feldman the world’s great insurance salesman, we need to understand who he was, why he did what he did, and learn about his methodology. In my estimation, three of the greatest factors that resulted in his remarkable sales success was his ability to: (1) overcome objections with creativity; (2) his belief in his product; and (3) his ability to convey his message. I'm going to start by providing you with a little bit of background information before diving into the first topic about overcoming objections with creativity. This is a three part series so make sure you come back each Thursday for the next tip. 

Who Was Ben Feldman? 

For most seasoned insurance sales professionals, you’ve undoubtedly heard of him. If not, allow me to introduce you… Mr. Ben Feldman was an American sales icon. He was undoubtedly one of the most prolific sales people in the world. In fact, he holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most outstanding salesperson in history.

Ben Feldman was born in New York City in 1912 to Isaac and Bertha Dardick Feldman as one of nine children. Eventually, the family moved to Salineville, Ohio and started a chicken farm. The Feldman insurance sales dynasty began when Ben Feldman decided in 1938 that he no longer wanted to be a poultry farmer and began selling life insurance. What brought about this sudden change in the direction his life would take? Ben was earning $10 per week selling butter and eggs for his father. He had met the girl of his dreams and proposed marriage. This was what she said to him, “Do you intend to support me on $10 per week?” At that point, he knew he had to change directions but he lived in a small town with very few options.

It just so happened that a friend was working with a small life insurance company earning $35 per week and indicated to him that there just might be an opening. From this lowly start began one of the greatest sales careers ever launched. He started working for New York Life Insurance in eastern Ohio, a career that would span for over five decades including accolades like being one of the first to sell a $1 million policy in the 1950s.

As you can see, there's nothing about Ben Feldman's life that particularly stand outs or indicates that he would be set up to succeed, ultimately becoming the greatest insurance salesman of all time. He was just an average Joe, son of a chicken farmer who was, like many of us, driven by his passion and emotions. I know I've gone into fair amount of detail about who he is, but that's because I really want to hammer home the importance of the message that greatness, in any field, starts from within. Ben Feldman is proof that If you are driven, and have a goal that you deem important enough, you can accomplish anything. 

Overcoming objections with creativity

A sales method Ben Feldman had great success with was overcoming objections with creativity. When most would have stood up and walked away, Ben Feldman made a living out of finding a reason to stay. He had a quiet confidence and belief in his product that would shine through in his demeanor and presentations. He wasn’t loud—he wasn’t forceful—what was he? Effective! Many called his approach a “soft-sell” method. He wasn’t in your face. How then did he have such success in selling? He did this by overcoming any objections a prospect might have for not buying life insurance.

Ben Feldman believed in meeting clients face-to-face. In fact, he rarely used the telephone. He said it is too easy to get rejected over the phone. You have a much better chance of success in a one-on-one meeting. He said it is more difficult for a prospect to reject you “eye-to-eye.” One of his best known phrases was “see the people.” Once, when he could not get an audience with a prospect, he offered five $100 bills for five minutes of his time. He told the receptionist to tell her boss, if he didn’t have good ideas for him, he could keep the money! Needless to say, Mr. Feldman got his five minutes. He ended up selling a $14 million policy to this man. A few years after this, he sold the same businessman another $20 million in coverage.

A fascinating part of this second sale was how he overcame this customer’s objection about not having time for the physical exam required to buy the additional life insurance. Again, when the prospect offered an objection, Feldman created a solution. He rented a van fully equipped with the medical devices needed, hired a doctor and a driver that was sent to wait for the business man. His strategy paid off big time. 

Check out this example of Ben Feldman's presentation skills: 

Sometimes, you have to get creative to make the big sale, even go the extra mile. Ben Feldman had an extraordinary amount of success by coming up with creative solutions that allowed him to overcome objections and close the deal. He was always willing to go the extra mile. EVERYONE in sales would do well do heed his advice and example. After all, it’s hard to argue with a career of over $100,000,000 in insurance sales!

Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something creative to close a deal? When was the last time you went the extra mile. 

Challenge yourself to get creative and stand out from the crowd.


Mark Sonders

Mr. Sonders is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Vertafore. With over 25 years of sales, marketing, and financial experience at companies like Thomson Reuters and Kaplan Financial, Mark’s career has focused on delivering long-term success for his clients in order to help them get the maximum value out of his organizations products and services.




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