Taking notes is an effective way for us to remember important discussions we have with our customers or when we are at meetings. As a sales manager, when working with my reps, I always have a notepad and a writing instrument ready to capture detailed notes. Even the smartest person I have worked with can forget important facts or action items/commitments we make during a meeting. I always coach my team to take notes but to make it more effective, have a coaching session about taking effective notes and how teach how it would benefit with their business development, sales and account management.
BENEFITS OF TAKING NOTES
Not only does it show your customer that you are paying attention, but you capture important information that is given to you by your customer that will help you close sales. You gather information to learn more about your customer and if you give a commitment or if follow up is needed, taking notes and reviewing them, help sales professionals to gather information and follow up without having to try remembering the meeting discussion by memory alone. It is simply professional to take notes and if you are trying to learn something, by actively taking notes, it helps you to remember more. Taking notes also helps you stay engaged in the meeting and if a conversation gets sidetracked, you can always refer to your notes to put you right back on track or use to ask clarifying questions based upon what your customers said.
DONT JUST TAKE NOTES- TAKE EFFECTIVE NOTES
Do you just take notes to show that you are paying attention during sales calls? At least you take notes. As a sales coach, I coach my sales team to not only take notes but to take effective notes. The coaching session consists of questions regarding why they take notes, and then I dig deeper by asking how they take notes and how they use that information. Each person has their own “system” or way of taking notes. I find that if someone has an effective system, I encourage them to continue using that working system, as long as they use it consistently and that it works. When I put on my manager’s hat and offer suggestions if they don’t take notes, I share with them the benefits of effective note taking.
An effective way to take notes is to have a system to make note taking more efficient and to help you quickly glance and review and understand what you wrote down to take action or record important data. An effective system I have used and teach my sales team to use is a simple yet effective system of using symbols on the left of the written notes I have taken. The simple symbols I use as it relates to sales/business:
Square= action item or a todo checklist box. I also use this symbol as a reminder for a commitment i made to the customer which serves as a follow up item.
Question Mark= Do more research or find out more.
Money Sign= Relating to a buying criteria or information that helps me move a sale along.
Star= Very important information.
Circle= Delegate or ask others for help on.
Once you finish with your meeting, it is important to review the notes you have taken and index them for action or for data collection. At the end of the day, I would review all my notes and then transfer my commitments to my calendar as a reminder which puts a completion date on it or transfer it to my smart phone’s todo list app. For important information, I add it to my customer’s crm file or in my case, I transfer my notes on my computer under a folder with my customer’s name and can easily do a search using key words or review prior to my next meeting. I don’t only use this system with my customers, but also with my sales team and colleagues which helps me to remember important information that would help me remind me prior to meeting with them again.
START TAKING EFFECTIVE NOTES
Practice makes perfect, and as a sales manager, you should lead by example so get out your notepad and start taking notes with every meeting. Create a note taking system to 1) Capture notes 2) Review the notes 3) Create action items based on the notes 4) Record/Save the notes and 5) create a way to retrieve important notes for future use. Note taking without a system or action is worthless. By coaching your sales team to take effective notes, you can increase sales, help with business develop and account development with all the benefits of taking notes. Here are some other useful articles regarding note taking.
- Recovering the lost art of notetaking
- Take Great Notes
- How to take notes like an alpha geek