Shane Westhoelter was in his early 20s, selling life insurance policies with $5,000 and $10,000 death amounts door to door in a small town when he found his “why.”
Today, Westhoelter is president and CEO of Gateway Financial Advisors, with offices in four U.S. cities. But back in 1988, he was starting out in the business, pounding the pavement in Ferguson, Mo. As a newbie agent, he delivered a $10,000 death benefit check to a mother whose seven-year-old son was killed in a drive-by shooting.
After talking with her about her child, Westhoelter recalled, “She said something that changed my life. She said, ‘Thank you, Mr. Shane, for bringing this $10,000 check. It allows me to keep my dignity. I don’t have to ask anyone for money to bury my son.”
“From that moment, I realized that’s what we did. We allow people to maintain their dignity.”
Westhoelter spoke as part of Impact Week for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ Business Performance Center.
'What Is Your Mindset?'
He attributed much of his success in the business to staying focused and maintaining a consistent routine, combined with drive and determination.
“What is your mindset? Do you have determination?” he asked. “Every morning, I tell myself I have another day to make it the best day I’ve ever had. Sometimes we have to say no to the good things so we can say yes to the best things.”
Westhoelter said that everyone must ask the questions: “What’s your passion? What drives you every day?”
“The difference between the impossible and the possible is the person’s determination and drive.”
In the sales process, Westhoelter said, the advisor must “build structure with purpose.”
“Get a script, stick to it, stay on a focused path, maintain a routine, keep score. Just like a Broadway play or a professional sports team, practice and rehearse.”
Westhoelter urged advisors to determine their brand – what sets them apart from others – and “burn it in.”
“What is your tag line? What do you really do? You need a power phrase. My power phrase is ‘I help people take the if out of life.’”
He also called for advisors to determine their mantra, which he described as a personal motivator. He described his mantra as, “Learn from today; dream of tomorrow; focus on today.”
Westhoelter recommended advisors maintain a consistent routine. “Don’t be a squirrel watcher; don’t be bouncing all over the place. You need to be like a race horse with blinders on – stay focused. Show up, step up, shut up. Learn to listen for what people do not say. Manage your day or it will manage you.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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