Keys For Setting Annual Planning Goals

With most companies now in their financial fourth quarter, sales trainer Eric Lofholm discusses how to prepare a plan for financial success in the coming year.

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Each fourth quarter as the New Year approaches, it’s prudent to prepare a plan for financial success in the coming year. Successful annual planning requires one key ingredient: your mindset.

Setting an Intent to Succeed

The first step towards successful financial planning is setting an intent to complete your plan. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done. Make a commitment now to complete an annual financial plan by midnight of December 31. If you need some help getting this done, you can sign up for my annual Sales and Marketing Plan training and you’ll have an opportunity to submit your plan to me by December 31. If for some reason you don’t end up reading this until after December 31, make a commitment to create an annual plan over the next month so that you have it ready by the start of the next quarter.

Asking Yourself the Right Questions

Creating your plan is largely a matter of asking and answering a series of questions that help you identify your sales and marketing goals and other financial goals and then verbalize steps to achieve those goals. You should ask yourself questions about key annual sales goals such as how many leads you want to generate, how many appointments you want to set, and how many sales you want to make. After defining some annual goals, you can break these down into smaller time frames by quarter, month, and week to make it easier to define concrete steps for achieving your goals. I’d encourage you to create a Word document or get a notebook where you can ask yourself some annual planning questions.

Examples of the types of sales and marketing goals that can go into creating your annual plan include:

  • Ultimate outcomes for the year
  • Annual revenue projections (sales results)
  • Annual marketing strategy (marketing tactics)
  • Ultimate outcomes for each month
  • Monthly revenue projections
  • Monthly marketing strategy
  • Monthly projects (if any)

You can break each of these goals up into more specific areas. For instance, you can break your target sales results down into lead generation, appointment setting, and sales.

You can also break each category down by quarter and by month. You can break it down even farther by week or by day if you so choose.

Supplementary Goals in Other Areas

In order to achieve your marketing and sales goals, you may find it helpful to set goals in other areas of your business or personal life. For example, in your business, you may set a goal of hiring more staff, adopting new automation tools, or developing and releasing new product and service lines.

Achieving personal goals can also help you achieve your business goals. For instance, if you haven’t been sleeping on a regular schedule, setting a goal of getting on a more consistent sleep cycle next year may help make you more productive. Similarly, you can set goals in areas such as your personal finances, health, relationships, and spiritual development.

The Strategy of Creating a Space for Success

A fundamental strategy for annual planning is creating a space for success. You can only have so many things. When something is occupying space, something else cannot occupy the same space. This is true both literally and in the metaphoric sense of occupying mental space or space in your business. If you no longer need something, getting rid of it can free up some space. This creates a space for you to attract something new to your business or other areas of your life.

To help you review the “space” surrounding your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What was great about the past year?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What were you most surprised by?
  • In what ways did you grow?
  • What was your biggest success?
  • What adversity did you overcome?
  • What skills did you develop?
  • What goals did you accomplish?
  • What was your most challenging sale?
  • What were you consistent at?

Finding Your Direction

Once you’ve oriented yourself in your business space, it’s time to review your past year’s performance in order to identify some areas where you can improve. Here are some examples of questions to help you perform this evaluation:

  • Based on your annual goals where should your results be right now?
  • Did you hit your gross sales number, total units number, or total recruits for the year?
  • How was your consistency during the past year?
  • How did you do in the area of appointment setting?
  • How did you do in the area of follow-up?
  • How did you do in the area of consistency?
  • How did you do in the area of marketing?
  • How did you do in the area of social media?
  • How did you do in the area of web marketing?
  • How did you do in the area of recruiting?
  • How did you do in the area of training?
  • How did you do in the area of motivating your team?
  • How did you do in the area of making your calls?
  • How did you do in the area of time management?
  • How did you do in the area of objection handling?

Use this list of questions to develop questions specific to your own industry, business, and product and service lines. You can also ask questions about non-business areas that impact your business. For instance, how many hours of sleep did you average per night this year, and how many hours would you need to achieve optimal energy for top business performance?

Expand on the above list of questions to help you identify areas for strategic improvement. In order for you to achieve your potential in the next year, uncover what areas of your business and other parts of your life that need improvement.

Being Prepared Pays

The fact you’re reading this article gives you an advantage over most people. Think about how many people wait until December 31 to make their New Year’s resolutions. Most people handle their annual financial planning the same way. Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey for 2013 revealed that 70 percent of Americans do not prepare a detailed personal budget. Entrepreneurs who handle their personal finances this way are prone to carry the same habits over into their business planning. When you consider that poor financial planning is one of the top causes of small business failure, you can see why creating an annual financial plan early gives you an advantage over the competition.

Eric Lofholm is a Master Sales Trainer, author, business success guru, communications expert and lauded speaker who has presented his proprietary, proven sales and success systems to Titans of Industry and thousands of other professionals world-wide. He founded and serves as CEO for Eric Lofholm International, Inc.—an organization that professionally trains achievement-minded individuals and employee groups on the art and science of selling. Connect with Eric online at

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