Your listening is guaranteed to fail you. Use pen and paper to take sales call notes. But, if typing on a phone is how you roll, roll on brother.

Take notes during sales calls. If the doctor turned the document he was writing on towards you, would you decipher the content?

Well, first you’d do a double take. ‘Why is he showing me this?’ Recovering quickly you’d then prove what you already knew. You cannot decipher what he has written. And yet, paradoxically, if he did not take notes, as you take your time to share your pain, you would take offence! Such is the power of taking notes during sales calls. In fact, by definition that is what sales call notes are. And yes, a doctor’s visit is a sales call. You (the patient) are the customer, and he, the seller.

Best way how to take notes during a sales call

What’s the best or most effective way to take notes during a sales call? Personally, I advocate for the good old pen and paper. If, however, writing or typing on a digital device is your cup tea, so be it. The most effective way is what works for you, and does not offend the customer. There are customers, for instance, that would take offence seeing you typing as they speak. Especially if it’s on a phone.  

To forestall this you may need to put a disclaimer before you start. “When you see me typing, I’m not texting. Just taking notes.”  Of course the phone comes with the added challenges of receiving a message, or a call, or a pop up message, or a notification, or an alarm going off. Or all of them, while taking notes during a sales call! Yikes! Yes, I know. You can put the smart phone on airplane mode.  Again if that’s how you roll, roll on brother. How to take sales call notes is not prescriptive nor have procedures. Unless, of course your employer deems it so for data capture (CRM) purposes (like a doctor). In such a case you would have a sales call meeting notes template, sample or format.

It’s about him, not you

Either way, to make the sales call notes useful it helps to have objective questions you intend to ask. Again as with the doctor, the questions won’t be about you or your product, but about the customer and, if B2B, his business. This is a useful tip for knowing what not to say on a sales call. Centre the sale around the customer. Naturally, the questions are a guideline not a deadline. Meaning, they need not be asked in sequence, nor at all, if the buyer has already responded to them in the course of answering a separate question. Or, you can see, you have said, enough to close

Take notes during sales calls

Importance of sales call notes

Taking notes during sales calls serves the purpose, and has the same impact as that of a doctor. 

First sales call notes are effective customer service. Making sales call notes portrays the gravity with which the salesperson is taking the session. There’s just something about writing that does this.  Think about it. You take a waiter that takes notes of your order, even in a dinghy pub, as being serious about her work.  And yes, that’s a sales call too.

Also, taking notes during sales calls creates a reference point for future interactions. It helps therefore to think through how to organize sales notes. You likely see different doctors in your preferred hospital. And yet they do not ask you to repeat yourself with every visit. Instead, they share with you your progress from your last visit, by referring to notes taken by preceding doctors. “Last time you were here, you had this intense pain in your lower back. How is it now?”

Read: How to handle an angry customer if you are a salesperson

Sales calls format

The equivalent for you would be something like, “When we met in February last year, just before Corona (sic), you had plans to increase your exports by 10%. How has this changed with the disrupted economy?” The customer is impressed by your seriousness. Further, taking notes during sales calls improves your listening skills.  Your listening skills will fail you at intermittent points. Therefore, “If I understand you correctly you said,….Is this correct?” while jotting it down creates connection and clarity.

Salespeople that do not take notes during sales calls, frustrate themselves, the customer, and therefore, the sale.


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