7 Tips to Improve Your Sales Call Notes
Think back to your highschool or college experience…
Remember how excited you were to sit in class and take notes? You'd write until your hand cramped, a giant smile on your face. The worst part of the day was when your teacher dismissed you and the other students and you had to put your pencil and notebook away.
Oh wait, you didn't enjoy taking notes in school? You'd rather have done almost anything—play video games, chuck rocks, attend an uncomfortable doctor's appointment—than go to school and jot down the important points your teacher made?
The truth is, most of us aren't fired up to take notes. But sales notes are essential. Commit to taking them the right way and your sales numbers will improve.
Why Are Sales Notes so Important?
Before I teach you how to take sales notes, let's talk about why you should. Here are three reasons to commit to your notes—even when writing them feels like pulling teeth.
Your Memory Isn't as Good as You Think
Unless you're Sherlock Holmes and have a full-fledged mind palace in your cranium, you won't remember everything your prospects tell you on the phone.
Fortunately, effective note-taking will remove this burden from your shoulders.
You won't have to rack your brain to recall your new prospect's name, company, and pain points. You'll just look at your notes and have one of those oh-so-satisfying "Aha!" moments.
Sales Notes Make Customers Feel Special
Sales professionals aren't the only ones who benefit from the note-taking process. Your prospects and existing customers will benefit from them too. How so? I'm glad you asked…
- First, sales notes will help you remember the things you talk about during sales conversations, which will allow you to better serve your target audience.
- Second, sales notes show you actually listen to your prospects, which will make said prospects feel heard, understood, and yes, even a little bit special. All you have to do is say, "Hold on one sec while I write that down…" Mission accomplished.
Sales Notes Improve Your Sales Pipeline
Lastly, the sales notes you take will help everyone on your sales team, not just you.
Think about it. You can compare notes with colleagues, which could give them the insight they need to close a tough deal. You can share notes with your sales manager, too, which might help them assess your department's sales strategy, then make changes that increase sales.
Sales notes can even help other departments within your company. Marketing teams can use them to better understand their target audience and create better content. And customer success teams can use them to learn about customer struggles and create handy FAQs.
Basically, your sales notes have the power to revolutionize your company's entire pipeline.
3 Sales Note Mistakes You Might be Making
You probably don't think about your sales notes that often. This is a problem because bad notes make it way harder to connect with prospects and close deals.
How do you know if your notes are bad? If you make any of the mistakes below, it's safe to assume you don't take great notes. Don't worry; in the next section, I'll give you all of the juicy deets you need to improve your note-taking skills and make sales at a consistent clip.
Mistake #1: You Don't Take Any Notes
The worst thing you can do when it comes to sales notes is not take them.
Why? Because it's too hard for one human brain to remember every important detail from the sales conversations they have. As such, the no-note-takers of the world often forget what they talked to potential customers about last time, neglect essential follow-up tasks, and generally frustrate the good folks they're trying to sell to. Don't do those things!
(Note: not finishing your sales notes is just as bad. Start strong and finish strong. That way you have the information you need to build a better sales process for your company.)
Mistake #2: You Take Way too Many Notes
Repeat after me: sales notes are not word-for-word transcriptions of sales calls.
The second worst thing you can do in regards to sales notes is treat them like your debut novel. Too many sales reps write too many pages of notes. By the time they're done, they have a mountain of text to sort through—which they never do because that's zero fun.
Your meeting notes shouldn't take you an hour to put together. They should be short and sweet and only contain the essential information you need to close deals.
Mistake #3: You Write Notes for You and You Only
Some salespeople write sales notes that only they can understand.
They use shorthand that doesn’t correspond to any known language. Or have such tragic handwriting, it would take a team of forensic graphologists a year to decipher.
If you can understand your sales notes, then you aren't wasting your time. But if you're the only one who can understand your sales notes, you aren't spending your time as productively as you could be. The best sales notes can be understood and used by your whole sales team. That way everyone benefits from them and the handoff between reps is buttery smooth.
7 Tips to Maximize Your Sales Notes
Can we agree that high-quality sales notes are important? Great, now we just need to figure out how to write them. The following pro tips, secret tricks, and ninja hacks will help!
Pro Tip #1: Keep Your Notes Accessible
Before we talk about how to write effective sales notes for your organization, make sure you have a secure and easily accessible place to store them.
A Google Doc might work for this, but your CRM software of choice is the best option. Why? Because then your notes will be stored in the same place as the rest of your prospect data.
Every CRM handles sales notes a bit differently. Close, for example, will automatically open a new note when you make a phone call. You can then input information directly into your CRM in real time, which will drastically increase your productivity levels and improve your workflow.
Just as important, every note you type into Close can be seen by the rest of your team, which makes collaboration easier and ensures every sales rep has the info they need to close deals.
If you want to drive better sales results, consider the actionable insights from CRM benefits.
Pro Tip #2: Keep Your Notes Brief
Concise, focused notes are more useful than full transcriptions or rambling treatises.
Simply summarize the main points of your sales conversations. And resist the temptation to copy every word spoken, or include irrelevant details that won't help you make sales.
Just don't go so bare bones that you neglect to log personal connections and/or interesting facts that will help you or another rep on your team build stronger relationships with leads. You have to find a balance between quality information and extraneous details.
Pro Tip #3: Focus on the Right Things
Keep these three words in mind: “important,” “actionable,” and “insightful.”
If a particular piece of information doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, it doesn’t belong in your sales notes. Don't even bother writing that kind of information down.
So what details do belong in your sales notes? Ask yourself if you gave a prospect a demo. Or showed them a specific feature of your product. Or discussed pricing. Or gleaned information related to the prospect's buying cycle. Or established a solid timeline.
These are all relevant pieces of information that will make your next sales call easier because they'll help you establish a general knowledge base for each potential customer.
Pro Tip #4: Note Action Items and Timelines
It’s especially important to note action items that you discuss during your sales calls.
Did you promise to do something before you call a prospect back? Did that prospect say they’d pinpoint certain information for you? The people who read your notes will want to know those things—including you, when you scan through your notes a week after you write them.
If you don't record action items, you won't remember them, which could lead to broken relationships, lost trust, and fewer sales. All three of those things are bad. Luckily, you can easily avoid them by writing sales notes during and after every sales conversation.
Pro Tip #5: Develop Your Own Style
Every sales rep has their own style of note-taking. As long as it’s concise, sensical, and actionable, that’s fine. Just know that what works for one rep might not work for you.
Some people like to take notes on a pad of paper after their calls. Others type them directly into their CRM while talking to prospects. You might decide to use bullet points instead of full sentences. Or develop a (still legible!) shorthand. Stick with whatever works for you.
Pro Tip #6: Build Good Habits
I won't lie to you, when you first decide to take better sales notes, you'll struggle.
How do I know this? Because it happens to everyone. You’ll get caught up in a call and forget some (or all) of the tips above. You might forget to take notes at all. That’s okay.
Don't worry about being perfect from the jump. Instead, treat every sales call as an opportunity to build good habits and improve your sales note-taking skills. As long as you take good notes more often then you take bad notes (or no notes,) you'll be in good shape.
Pro Tip #7: Use a Sales Note Template
Last but not least, create a few templates to streamline the note-taking process.
Maybe you have specific questions you ask every prospect during your first call with them. Or need to glean specific information before you move a lead from the "prospect" stage to the "opportunity" stage. Templates make it easier to log quality notes in these situations.
If you happen to be a Close user (or hope to be in the near future) you can use our "Custom Activities" feature to quickly create sales note templates for your sales team.
All you have to do to access this feature is navigate to the "Settings" tab, then click "Custom Activities" from the menu. Once this is completed, you click "+ New Custom Activity" name it, and then click "Save." There are other options from that point forward, but that's the gist of it.
Whether you use Close or not, you should definitely use templates to simplify sales note taking. Doing so will help ensure you actually do it, and that your notes are usable.
Sales Notes Are a Powerful Tool
Sales reps often learn the importance of good sales notes through bad experiences.
Like when a customer gets mad because they're forced to answer the same question over and over again. Or when you ask a colleague about a call and they can't remember it.
Don’t make these same mistakes. Build a strong note-taking habit, so that you can provide better experiences to your customers, make more sales, and supercharge your sales process.
Speaking of supercharging your sales process…have you tried Close yet?
Our CRM platform is loved by users because it's easy to use and powerful. Start your free 14-day trial of Close today to see for yourself. We won't even ask for your credit card number!