Life assurance - honesty is the best policy and why rejection is the biggest killer in the life assurance industry.

I have to say that some of the nicest, kindest, generous of spirit, honest and most genuine people I have ever encountered were life assurance salesmen and women. And of course, I also came across the rogues and crooks but they were few and far between. However, the commission only basis on which we all worked, often put pressure on even the most honest of sales people when their mortgage had to be paid at the end of the month.

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Having said this, I encountered very few unethical life assurance sales people in comparison to the huge numbers of honest and ethical salesmen I had the honour to work with.

Rejection or the fear of rejection was the biggest enemy most of us had to deal with. If you were making thirty cold calls a day, whether it was over the telephone or knocking on doors and twenty seven of them tell you to go away in jerky movements, it will take its toll on all but the strongest on a day to day basis.

Life assurance salesmen were not held in the highest of esteem. We were door to door sales people who interrupted people's television viewing and reminded them that they had responsibilities to their families that lasted after they were dead. I never met anyone who had enough life assurance and as everyone is going to die, I found it incredible that people didn't actually care. Consequently, the reception we received over the telephone or on the doorstep was often unpleasant and you had to learn not to take it personally. However, for many new recruits, the constant rejection or verbal abuse they received was unbearable and many quit on the first day or within a week.


When I moved into management I was determined to recruit the highest calibre sales people and provide them with the best support I could muster to give them the best chance of success.

One of my first recruits was one of my clients; a retired Colonel who had specialised in bomb disposal. The thought of a bomb blowing up in your face was the highest form of rejection that I think anyone would have to deal with. This was a man with balls of steel, a man used to discipline, educated and well spoken. I believed I had a recruit who would succeed at the highest level. How wrong I was.

Whilst he had no problem cold calling, he had been used to his subordinates following orders and doing as they were told. Being told to go away in no uncertain terms, being looked down on and given little or no respect just proved too much for him. It was a lesson that I learned early on as a manager and that was to let all recruits test the water before they gave up their careers.

Training people about the products and giving them the sales skills was not a guarantee for success. All the training in the world was not going to give people the qualities and characteristics they needed to succeed; these could only be discovered from within if they existed there in the first place. No salesman ever made sales without making appointments even if he was selling the cheapest life insurance.

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