What a 2013 you had. Coming off of such a successful year, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How do I capitalize on that success and make 2014 even better?” If you want to have the most satisfying and lucrative year yet in your practice, you must have an effective marketing plan. A marketing plan that is written down, outlined with a number of goals, and is reviewed on an ongoing basis.
We can relate your effective marketing plan and goal setting to resolutions that ordinary individuals make at the beginning of every year. Did you know those who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make resolutions? This goes back to having a clear vision as to what you want to accomplish; allowing you to prioritize what is important, have strong direction, and keep you on track throughout the year.
Effective goal setting for 2014 can be summed up in an acronym we follow called SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. These five guidelines will allow you to remain focused and motivated for selling life insurance and annuities in 2014.
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model:
• WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build, etc.
• WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
• HOW are you going to do it?
Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear, and easy. For example, instead of setting a goal to make more money, set a specific goal to increase your profitability by $15,000 per month. This goal can be broken down into the number of appointments needed to be made and establishing your closing ratio.
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project. If the goal is accomplished, this is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! "I want to write three articles” shows the specific target to be measure. "I want to be a better writer" is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set that are too far out of your reach, you probably won't commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it's too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to push you slightly so you feel a sense of real accomplishment, but believe you can achieve it. For instance, if you aim to sell 50 annuities in one week, that probably isn't realistic if you are used to selling three. But setting a goal to sell five annuities a week may become even more achievable for you.
The feeling of success helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for “easy". Realistic, in this case, means “do-able”. It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; the skills needed to do the work are available and the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it, but it shouldn't break them.
Devise a plan - or a way - of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of writing 1 MM in premium in 2014 may not be realistic to someone who wrote $50,000 in 2013.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure. But too low sends the message that you aren't very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Set a timeframe for the goal: in the next week, in three months, etc. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don't set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there's no urgency to start taking action now.
Review, analyze, and adjust. Check your progress throughout the year at regular intervals so that you can check your progress and decide if you need to change something, add something, etc. As American author and personal-success advisor, Napoleon Hill, states, “The primary reason for failure is that people do not develop new plans to replace those plans that didn’t work.”
Also, always have a BHAG: a big, hairy, audacious goal! This BHAG should be set higher than you’re normal goal and is described as the “perfect situation”. It allows you to think big and shoot for the stars.
And don’t forget, remember to reward yourself when you do hit your goals. You deserve it!
Have a happy and prosperous New Year!