LunchBreak Live Special // Sales! Sales! Sales! A three-way panel discussion on the art of sales

One of the things I enjoy most about hosting business panels is that no two are the same. People’s advice and experiences are always different, and every panelist offers a fresh take on the topics we discuss. I also believe that having three business professionals, often from different professions, offers a unique learning opportunity for all of us to see how business sense, advice and tactics translate across a range of industries. There is always something to learn from listening to people have succeeded in their respective fields. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to host a panel which consisted of noted insurance agent Sruly Engel of Engel Financials, sales expert and educator Menashe Friedman of Astar Home Capital, and Volvy Mendlowitz of Heritage Silver.

The panel discussion was enjoyable and entertaining, but more importantly, very informative. I hope that in putting our talk down on paper, I have succeeded in capturing the flavor of the live event.



Nesanel: I’d like to welcome Volvy Mendlowitz, Sruly Engel and Menashe Friedman. Let’s start with a bit of background from each of you. 

Menashe Friedman: My first job was as a salesman for a printing company. That lasted about four weeks. It was not a pretty sight. Then I got a job in a retail store and worked my way up to sales. Eventually, I got into sales in an international company where I was a traveling salesman. I literally knocked on doors.

I was in the diamond business for many, many years. I started out lower than a salesperson, worked my way up to sales, ran a division, and then ran my own company for many years. I realized that I had a knack for teaching people and helping them grow.

Currently I am one of the two sales directors at Astar, a mortgage brokerage company. We give our salespeople everything we can.

Sruly Engel: I’m originally from Montreal, Canada. I have my own company called Engel Financials, where I sell life insurance. My father, z”l, was in the life insurance business for over 40 years.

After getting married I went to kollel. I lived in Monsey at the time, and in order to get around, you need a car. It’s not like Brooklyn. I started driving for play groups in the morning and afternoon just to be able to cover the car expenses. After a couple of years, I figured that I had to do more. I was 21 years old.

My father told me, “Life insurance is a good business. I think you should join.” So I went down for an interview. I had a very good conversation with a GA [general agent]. He told me he thought I would be great at it. Then he sent me a test that people take when they’re trying to enter the business. One question was “How much do you want to make a year?” I had one child, and I thought, I don’t know—$50,000 is probably nice. It asked about prior work experience. I didn’t have any. Education? Yeshivah. So they came back after a week and told me, “This business is not for you. Look for something else.” A year passed.

Then one day the agency ran an advertisement for a symposium that it was hosting in an effort to recruit more agents. My father told me to go and see if I liked the business. I went, and I loved what I saw. It’s a business where you help people, not to mention that it’s nice being your own boss. They decided to give me a chance, baruch Hashem. I joined the business, and the rest is history. 

Nesanel: I have been told that you are in the top five percent among all agents selling life insurance in New York. Is that correct?

Sruly Engel: Baruch Hashem. 

Nesanel: Volvy, let’s hear your background story. You sell silver, and you helped transform a small business. How did you start your career? What was your first job?

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