The cheapest life insurance is not always the best assurance of getting a payout on the death of the life assured.

Mike and I were not the biggest producers in our office but all the other life insurance salesman would gather round of a morning to hear us recount our previous evenings adventures. Nearly three decades on, colleagues we are still in contact with recount tales and quote us verbatim. Laughter was the best medicine and repaired many a wounded morale and set us all up to face another day.

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We would often go on appointments together and act as a double act and many a time we would have the client in stitches with our stories and antics. Some of the more serious insurance salesmen believed we weren't professional but many a client would express disappointment if only one of us turned up for a service appointment. Many considered an evening spent with us was better entertainment than watching the television.

I'm not just talking about small clients either. We had a number of wealthy clients who would recommend us to friends and many clients who would invite us for dinner if we had an appointment with them. They trusted us and with good reason because we became friends and looked after their best interests.

One of us would normally do the fact find, then the other would explain the benefits of life insurance policy we were recommending and one would close the sale. On one occasion, I had drifted off and missed the point where I should have closed the deal and started to complete the application form. Mike gave me a nudge to wake me from my day dreaming and I re-entered the conversation with a comment that was totally unconnected to the stage of the presentation, causing the client to dissolve into hysterics.

Having completed the paperwork, Mike and I started arguing in front of the client about who had actually closed the sale. It was all done in good humour, whilst the client and his wife rocked back and forth with tears running down their faces. In the end we asked the client to adjudicate as to who had closed the deal.

Recounting this story back at the office, our colleagues were amazed that the client had actually bought the life insurance policy from us. Not only had they bought, they had also recommended some friends they thought we could also do business with. We may have come across like Laurel and Hardy but our clients liked us.


We all laughed at lot in those days. One afternoon, Mike and I were out knocking doors and Mike knocked on a door that was opened by a very small and very skinny man wearing a sweat shirt with "Muscle" printed across the chest. Except the "M" and the "E" disappeared under his armpits.

"Can I help you?" he asked in a high pitched voice. Mike looked at him and started to giggle and as a result, the guy started laughing too, which in turn made Mike laugh even more. The two of them stood on the doorstep in hysterics whilst Mike, unable to control himself just staggered away, leaving the chap perplexed as to why Mike had knocked on his door and started laughing.

On another occasion, Mike knocked on a door and peering through the lounge window saw a man lying on the sofa with a leg in plaster up to his crotch. He struggled up, placing a pair of crutches under each arm and hobbled, obviously under a great deal of strain and pain to the front door. All Mike could do was watch in trepidation as he agonisingly reached the door and opened it. "I suppose it's a bit late to interest you in accident insurance?" said Mike, to which the man, who had sweat running down his forehead simply nodded, closed the door and hobbled back to his sofa.

Humour was our shield against the rejection we faced as life insurance salesmen and whilst some things that happened were sad, somehow we always managed to see the funny side of it. We had a colleague called Norman Wendell who whilst a really lovely guy who stuck around for years, never really made a good living. "Stormin Norman" we called him, simply because he was so slow and boring.

He came into the office one morning and his manager came out to enquire if he had sold any insurance policies that night. Norman went into a long and slow account of the appointment he had been on; telling his manager about the client he had been to see, the fact find he had completed and the sales presentation he had made. This all took about twenty minutes whilst the manager grew more impatient. "So what did you sell?" he asked Norman. There was a pregnant pause before he answered. "I didn't get the sale, they fell asleep on the sofa, so I just let myself out." The whole office fell about laughing.

Norman would recount many stories like this. The time he opened his briefcase on the floor and the clients' dog cocked its leg and pissed all over his application forms. The time, having learned from this lesson, he opened his briefcase on the sofa and a young child threw up in it. One minor disaster after another would befall him, I don't know why but it always prevented him from selling much life insurance.

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