How to Prepare for a Knockout 2018

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As 2017 winds down and people pause their regular activities to enjoy friends and family, you may find that there is a decrease in the number of people shopping for insurance. This slower-than-normal period is an excellent time to prepare for 2018.

As you get ready for the new year, it’s important to set specific goals to measure your agency’s success and make a plan for how you will achieve them. Here are a few strategies that may help you do this.

First, Look Back

Start your self-inventory by remembering where you were a year ago. Then look back two years. Then three. Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you may find it helpful to go back five, 10 or even 20 years.

The idea is to see how far you’ve come. If your income, number of clients and total sales have increased every year, congratulations! You’re doing lots of things right. For you, it may be helpful to analyze the years when sales have either slowed or increased more than normal and try to figure out if those changes were related to outside factors or improvements/changes you made in technology, process, training, marketing or staffing.

If you find that your growth rates from year-to-year are variable or in the red, see if you can spot any patterns or identify specific reasons for the “bad” years. If you can determine why business was down—whether due to rate changes or outdated technology or personnel issues, for example—you can work to make sure those conditions are not repeated in 2018.

Forecast and Set Goals

Once you have a handle on past performance, it’s much easier to forecast your expected business-activity level and set goals for the coming year. In a previous article, we wrote about setting S.M.A.R.T goals. For planning purposes, it may be helpful to set those goals based on three tiers: 1) a low-growth year; 2) an average year; and 3) a high-growth year.

Remember that your goals can cover a variety of business areas—it’s not only about sales numbers. For instance, what are your training goals? How many hours and how much money do you want to devote to learning more or providing opportunities for your staff to grow? What about process improvements—is there a nagging issue about how things get done that you’d love to get cleared up in the new year? These are all topics that may be part of your plan.

Strategize Your Outreach in 2018

One constant in the field of insurance sales is the need for new clients. There are a lot of ways to reach out: phone, email, direct mail, text, in-person presentations, through marketing materials, etc. How and when will you reach out in 2018? You should consider this as it relates to current clients in addition to prospects. Here is a short list of ways to find new clients—each one may require a different approach:

  • Qualified leads
  • Current-client database
  • Referrals
  • Promotional or marketing efforts
  • Connections made at insurance-related events or conferences
  • Information trades with professionals in related fields

Measure, Measure, Measure

When you look back at previous years, do you have all of the information needed to get a clear picture of your past successes and challenges? Do you know what the key performance indicators (KPIs) are that will give you the best snapshot of your agency? (Read more about KPIs here.)

Think of it like a thermometer. Taking regular measurements of your business will enable you to stay on top of your agency’s health. What are the KPIs that matter the most to you? Are you tracking them regularly? If you haven’t set up processes to measure in the past, now is your chance to get started. For many people, measurement isn’t the most fun part of sales and, therefore, it’s easy to overlook. But tracking and analyzing your KPIs is an invaluable way to gain clarity and direction.

A Final Toast

When you’re finished with your plan for 2018, take a moment to let your past accomplishments sink in. And while you’re doing that, know that Hometown Quotes is raising a virtual toast to you: May you have a productive, enjoyable and successful 2018!