Establishing goals can help you stay on track and give you direction on how to go about doing your job throughout the year. It’s important, though, to avoid certain things that could put your goals and plan in jeopardy.
First and foremost, you should:
- Avoid setting unrealistic goals; do not be too ambitious (or make them too easy or vague either).
- Be specific and include short-term and long-term due dates
- Track your progress (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to ensure you stay on target and have a sense of purpose, as you are able to mark your progress throughout the year.
To ensure your goals are attainable, it’s often recommended you develop them based on the mnemonic acronym, SMART.
- Measurable (or meaningful and motivating)
- Achievable (or attainable)
- Relevant (or realistic, reasonable, and results-based)
- Time bound (or time-sensitive)
Your goals and objectives need to be specific and they should address the six Ws:
- Who? – Who is involved? You alone – or you with others?
- What? – What do you want to accomplish? What are your specific reasons, purposes, or desired benefits of achieving your goal?
- Where? – Where will it happen – at what location?
- Which? – Which things stand in the way of you achieving your goals?
- Why? – Why is this goal important? Why are you doing it?
- When? – When is your goal to happen? What’s your timeline?
When your marketing goals are well-defined and readily understood, it’s better for everyone. Setting your goals lets you focus on a specific, quantifiable goal.
For the best success, your objectives need to be measurable – whether that measure is based on sales volume (client or policy quantity or premium dollars), achievement of a specific market share, a percentage increase in sales over the prior calendar or fiscal year, or whatever you choose.
For example, a general goal would be “Sell more Small Group business next year.” A specific goal would be “Increase my Small Group production by 20% next year.” If you have a monetary goal (such as increasing your commissions by 20%), our Salary Calculator may be helpful to you.
A measurable goal answers the questions: How much? How many? If your goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether you’ve reached it. Having a measurable goal will help you stay on target – and you’ll experience the excitement of achievement that spurs you on to your ultimate objective.
Achievable (or Attainable)
It’s important your goals be achievable or attainable. Ask yourself this question: How can this goal be accomplished?
While every goal you set should be a stretch for you (or you and your team), it should not be too extreme. You don’t want your goals to be too big or out of reach – nor do you want them to be too vague and without meaning. Figure out the steps you need to take to make them come true. Then develop the attitude, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.
Write them down, but don’t go wild and write too many. You need to stay focused on a manageable number. Five to eight max is probably good.
Planning is key to driving you and your business toward your goals. Don’t forget a goal without a plan is just a wish. As you work toward achieving your goals, you may find those that seemed far away or out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable – not because your goals shrink, but because you grow in your effort to achieve them.
Realistic (or Relevant)
A realistic or relevant goal must represent an objective to which you are willing and able to work. It can be high and realistic. You are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. In setting your goals, be certain it represents a substantial step forward (from your achievement last year).
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is now the right time?
- Is this the right marketplace in which to do this?
- Does this fit with my other efforts?
- Am I the right person who can reach this goal?
It could be surprising to learn a high goal is frequently more easily achieved than a low goal. That’s because you exert less effort (and you’re motivated less) by a low goal. Looking back, it’s likely some of the most difficult tasks you’ve accomplished seemed (or were) easy because they were a labor of love for you.
Time-bound (or Time Sensitive)
Each of your goals should have a target date. That will help you focus and give you something to work toward. (This will also enable you to separate routine, everyday tasks from your longer-time goals.)
Ask yourself these questions:
- When do I want to complete this goal?
- What can I do (toward this goal) today?
- What can I do in the next six weeks?
- What about the next six months?
You may find during the year you have underestimated the time required to achieve one or more of your goals. That’s okay. When you review your goals periodically, you can make adjustments. But, don’t give up. Consider “padding” your timeline to allow for setbacks and delays. That way, you’ll feel less pressured to rush and, perhaps, undermine your future success.
As you go about setting your goals, do some research on the market in your area – and shifts that have (or are expected) to occur. Maybe your region is attracting more small employers? If that’s your market niche, there’s an opportunity for you. Carve out a portion of your schedule to go after those new businesses. Establish incremental goals; if you want to increase sales by 20 percent for the year, set quarterly goals – say four percent in Q1, Q2, Q3, and eight percent in Q4 (or whatever is achievable based on your prior success). Set a corresponding target for your calls and quotes each day – and your enrollments each month.
Remember, too, no matter how hard you work, you may fail to achieve a goal (or more) from time to time. Your failures are a factor in what you will ultimately achieve, so it’s critical you take the time to learn from them. Don’t let your short-term failure cause you to shift or lose your focus. Take note of where you went wrong and use that knowledge to help you reach your other goals (or your goals for next year).
Quarterly and at end-year, take stock of everything you’ve been able to achieve. If you update your goals, remember to keep them SMART. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Without the support of your family, colleagues, and friends, you may not be able to achieve your goals. Learn to accept help – and how to ask for it.
For more useful tips and marketing ideas, download our Marketing Guide, a valuable tool for new brokers.