So the year has ended and a new one has begun. A fresh year in need of plans and goals. This can be a challenging task for just about anyone, at almost any company. Even if last year was a success, you know there is always room for improvements. One place to start is by repeating effective strategies from the previous year and making them SMART to better suit your company’s needs. Here are a few tips for creating SMART and successful goals for the year.
What is a smart goal?
Contrary to what some may think, SMART goals do not have to do with intelligence levels. Rather SMART serves an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
Specific speaks directly to the goal. Goals should be clear, concise, and to the point because they need to be communicated to multiple people. The more complex a goal is, the more room there is for information to be misinterpreted or misrepresented during communication. For example, a goal can be set for a specific geographic area, product unit sales, or type of buyer.
Measurable refers to defining how progress and success will be tracked for each goal. A measurable goal includes a specific increment such as a number or percentage. For example, rather than having a broad goal to increase your sales, include a measurable amount to strive for. A measurable SMART goal would be to increase your solar tracker sales by 15 percent, from 200 to 230 installations, over the next year.
Attainable goes hand in hand with measurable. Along with being able to track goals, they also need to be realistic. While it is great to be ambitious, setting goals that are unrealistic can discourage your team. It is important to find the balance — an ideal goal is challenging, but realistic enough to motivate and encourage your team.
Relevant speaks to the purpose of the goal and whether it is applicable to your sales and business plans. Goals lose their meaning if they are not relevant. For example, how does counting the number of cups of coffee the sales team drinks each day relate to your business goals for the year? Irrelevant goals can waste company time and resources, so it is important to make sure all goals are relevant.
Time-based speaks to the timeline of a goal. It is vital to have a timeline with deadlines, to determine if the time frame set for the goal is realistic for members of your team, and if they will likely be able to meet the goal by that time. There is a world of difference between the goal of increasing sales by 20% — and increasing sales by 20% over the next three months. Setting time-based goals will help your team break large annual numbers into smaller time-based chunks and ensure the team is all on the same page with what needs to be accomplished on a monthly or quarterly basis. This clearly speaks to the solar industry, as installs and permitting are often dependent on scheduling and deadlines.
What other than Smart is important for goals?
Now that you have the basics for setting smart goals, you can start to focus on other important aspects of goal planning for the year. Especially in sales and marketing, knowing your targets are crucial. Knowing your targets helps you to ensure that your objective is realistic and relevant. You need to be well informed about your buyer personas. Buyer personas are one of the most important factors of a sales plan and should be updated as the market and target demographic for the product or service changes.
In addition to keeping the targets in mind, it is also important to stay current about market conditions and competitors, how they compare to you, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how the pricing compares. The solar market is ever changing and it is vital to stay up to date on the latest laws and regulations in addition to your competitors.
It’s good to get plans made at the beginning of the year, this will ensure your memory is as current as possible when looking at the previous year and will allow you to plan for the new year as early as possible. It is also important to keep your SMART sales plan as current as possible. Do not just write it at the beginning of the year, use it throughout the year to guide and influence your decisions and (hopefully) track how well the plan is performing.