How To Take Better Notes As A Sales Rep
Posted on April 19, 2022
Want to become a better sales representative and drive better results? Take better sales notes!
Taking sales notes is not only an effective selling skill that makes one stand out, but it is also a valuable resource that will help you and your sales team to consolidate the entire selling process and corroborate the final purchase decision.
Usually, sales people engage in a myriad of conversations with their customers and prospects; hence too many details can easily be confused or escape. And yes, taking notes is one way to impress your customers and show them that you’re attentive and focused on them.
Unfortunately, majority of sales people frown at the thought of taking notes. As a matter of fact, most sales reps don’t like it.
And it’s not hard to understand why…
Of course, taking notes sounds so old school, bringing to mind those afternoons when you were forced to scribble down everything your history teacher dictated about how the ancestors of the indigenous Australians migrated from Africa because it would be in the next test.
Thankfully, gone are the days when you had to take notes in preparation for a history test. However, as a good marketer, taking notes is a must.
Yep, I know you’re thinking about those days when you have to bump into folks who believe note-taking is a waste of time. Forget about them for a moment and keep in mind that the value of taking good sales notes is more than just remembering the information.
Great sales notes are a sure way to improve productivity, boost collaboration and increase your sales revenue as it gives you greater chances of closing that deal.
Below are some tips on how to take effective sales notes in addition to actionable ways you can integrate in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to make note-taking worthwhile.
But first, let’s understand the importance of sales notes.
Why sales notes are important in 2022:
- Enables you to retain information
Basically, selling is more about providing a solution by matching your product or service with client’s need. Certainly, it’s not humanly possible to remember every detail of a 60-minute conversation via phone unless you have a superb memory. What’s worse, you are likely to remember less in your next follow-up meeting, and this makes it extremely difficult to customise your product/service pitch to suit the unique needs of the customer.
- Makes your customer/prospect feel special
Taking notes is impressive and assures the customer that you are keenly listening to what they are saying.
Have you ever placed your order at a restaurant where the waiter didn’t jot anything down? The thought that pops on your mind would be, “Gosh, I hope they’ll bring the exact thing I ordered”. Taking notes is a way to confirm to the customer or prospect that you are diligent and taking the time to accurately capture the details they are providing.
- Enhances the sales process
Accurate and well detailed notes aren’t just for the salesperson; they are also an essential resource for the sales team as well.
When a sales team gets into the habit of comparing notes, collaboration is improved immensely as team players help each other to successfully close deals. This also enables the sales manager to stay abreast and remain on top of deals and comes in when necessary.
In addition, sales notes can be used as a quality control measure as they help sales managers to have greater insight of the entire sales process as well as sales pipeline, and this helps them to determine the right mechanism to use and when to guarantee better results.
- Births fresh ideas and queries
Sometimes it can be challenging to talk and evaluate at ago. Taking time to review your sales notes after a call or meeting often opens your eyes to fresh points or connections you might have missed while engaging and speaking with your prospect.
- Enables you to create an excellent pitch deck
An impressive pitch deck cannot be build without comprehensive sales notes gathered during a needs analysis exercise. The more detailed your notes are, the better the sales deck you’ll build to speak powerfully in a way that addresses the needs and concerns of your prospective customers.
7 Steps to help you take better sales notes
Excellent sales notes can be a means to developing effective selling cycles, establishing rewarding relationships with prospects, keeping your team abreast and most importantly assisting you close that deal.
(Hint: Bring your CRM along with you).
- Develop a game plan
Don’t schedule a call or meeting with a blank sheet of paper. Before interacting with a client, be sure to have clear goals, game plan and questions. This should be engineered as part of your selling cycle.
Carefully review each stage of your selling cycle. Keep in mind that the processes of prospecting, needs analysis, pitching and retaining customers involve distinct strategies and hence different approaches are required.
So, what specific information is required when it comes to client discovery or developing a selling cycle?
The type and number of queries will depend on how efficient and effective your sales team is; but basically it should include:
- Contact details (include name and titles)
- Pain points
- Main agenda (discussion topics)
- Willingness to purchase
- Outcome of the meeting
You can make the process simpler and save time by creating this directly into your CRM:
a) Add notes to each contact as you progress, but better still you can customise your CRM with each field and question.
b) Integrating custom fields in your CRM to draw vital details of your leads guarantees consistency that enables your sales reps to ask similar questions while providing a coherent framework to guide your sales team.
2. Personalise your sales notes
When it comes to sales, your focus shouldn’t just be selling. The process also involves building solid relationships hence every conversation should sound and feel as though it is with someone you truly value.
Once you’re through with your conversation via call, quickly jot down the most important sales information as well as any personal details.
Did the prospect mention a hobby, favourite restaurant or an upcoming anniversary? Those little things matter and can make a really huge difference.
Here’s how it looks for me:
I visit my doctor for a general check-up twice a year. My doctors some what of a champion in my eyes. He always remembers my family and my work. It may not sound such an important detail, but I appreciate the fact that he takes time to make me feel special and looked after.
3. Don’t capture everything word for word
It’s worthwhile to know that sales notes are not direct transcriptions; hence you don’t have to write everything word for word as this may make you too busy to engage and give maximum attention to what the customer or prospect is saying.
It’s better if you can think and focus on more insightful, important and actionable information. This will help you think of the ultimate goal. While at the information-gathering phase carrying out your needs analysis, consider only the information you need to keep handy during pitching.
What important details are you expecting to gather during the conversation? Breaking down your thought process to the essentials can help you stay focused during a call.
It would be more prudent of you if you recorded a call on Zoom or Google Meet as this would help you pay more attention to the conversation and take your notes later. Nevertheless, don’t skip this crucial step since taking good notes is still an important skill.
Sometimes sales persons adopt acronyms that make note-taking easier. For example, the acronym “BANT” is common in sales frameworks as it refers to budget, authority, need and timeline.
No doubt, acronyms and shorthand forms of writing are a great timesaver and you can always use them whenever you want.
4. Keep your sales notes consistent
Both CRM and sales notes are important resources for personal use as well as use by your sales team and the company at large.
Therefore as you take notes, don’t just write them for yourself, have others in mind and write in such a way that they will find it easier to read and use them to build up a database that can help the team identify common themes and problems over time.
Ensure your notes are clear and concise, and save time and energy. Integrate CRM fields, sales acronyms and call frameworks that are standardised to enable everyone else to read and understand them with ease.
5. Note every actionable detail
Always note down any idea or issue that requires immediate action, follow-up or has a timeline. This should include tasks, customer follow-ups and internal to-dos.
You should also add actionable items to your Calendar and set reminders for tasks that need follow-up.
6. Conclude your sales notes
More often than not, this is a gap in the sales process. Have you ever tried to read through your notes only to realise you can’t read your own handwriting? Or a keyword you thought you jotted down but can’t be traced? Well, this can be avoided when you spare some minutes after a sales conversation to complete your sales notes. Finish your thoughts, fill any blanks and ensure your notes can be understood and used by the next team member in the next phase of your sales funnel or customer journey.
7. Quickly update of your CRM
Sometimes you may not take your sales notes directly in CRM. As such, ensure you update your CRM as quickly as possible. When your notes have important updates for your team or entire company, be sure to tag them using the @ within the CRM so they get to know the state of the deal or opportunity.
This is particularly where the deal is whopping and the sales process will take longer—weeks or even months, involving multiple calls and demos, and you’ll need all the information handy and synchronized in one place.
Sales notes give you all the relevant information whenever you need it
Regardless of the sales phase you are in, having your sales notes well updated in the CRM enables you to find any information needed to push a deal to the next phase and eventually close it.
While note-taking can sometimes be cumbersome, it’s a sure helpful means to build relationships and improve your chances of closing that deal.
Take time to learn the art of note taking and once you master it, you’ll find it easier to remember the small things about your customers as you impress them with your level of attention to detail. We find it a sturdy foundation for lasting relationships.