April 21, 2022

#35 - Taking Notes

#35 - Taking Notes
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You can't remember everything, so you need to be able to take notes. But how do you do it without taking your attention away from your customer and the conversation? Brendan and Bob spend a quick 16 minutes discussing simple little tips to focus on the right stuff and reduce your note-taking burden.

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Hey, Bob, it's another edition of let's chat sales, let's chat sales. There we go. That never gets old by the way. So we are going to talk about taking notes, something as simple as that. I mean, how important now? Simple, but 

also difficult to people.

I've heard people say I can't take notes because I can't focus on the discussion. Take notes at the same time. 

Yeah. And everyone has a different style and some people are so really meticulous about it. And I have to confess, I'm a big fan of notes, but I I'm not. Shall we say anal retentive the way I think some people are when it comes to it.

 Which works 

for them. 

So that's fine,  different strokes for different folks. Right. So let's talk about that. Let me start by saying in the last one of the more recent podcast episodes, we talked about the importance of notes and being able to take notes.

As part of wrapping up the sales call in an effective way. And so, and also 

that discovery process, right? So say if someone's telling you something important, it would be nice to document. So you're not going, wait, tell me again where your territories are or how many employees do you have because that doesn't build trust three weeks later after you've had 10 discussions.

What's your 

company doing again, you have to pay attention. . Yeah. So where do we start? 

May I start? Because I don't know if you know this Brendan.  But I used to be a journalist. That's what I studied in college. And I did that for a number of years.

So being a journalist, you go out and you write stories, you document things. . When I first got out of college, I was working for a newspaper and I started to realize, as I was going back, looking at my notes that it was crazy to write down everything someone said, 

You need to write down the things that matter. And alive, the other stuff you're keeping your head. So how someone uses a really good phrase.  I write that down with quotation marks and use that phrase. So 

you go about identifying the things that matter. 

So I try to think about the things that make someone uniquely them or make the situation uniquely that situation.

So if you're trying to figure out how many employees the company has, where their territories are, you can probably get them to send you like a company profile or bio.  That's not the kind of stuff I'm looking for. I'm looking for, if someone says, you know, we have some real supply chain issues, it's all about Paraguay.

I'm writing down supply chain in Paraguay, so it jogs my memory and what I find for me, I don't know if it's for everyone, but I've taught a lot of students when I was teaching journalism. This it's not about capturing every single word they say, 

you're writing down the things that you think you might have to call on later.   

So so I'm, I'm  succinct in my note, taking, I listened for the key, like T like you said, the key phrases I want data points.

I do want to know if they say we're in these markets. Or this is the reporting structure. If someone mentions a name and a title, I'm definitely writing those things down. I'm putting question marks by things. I have a kind of a hieroglyphics that I work with . Like, as I mentioned previously, if there's an action.

It has a star with a circle around it  so I can see, oh, these are the things I have to do. If it's a question, I put a big question mark, next to it. Right. And in my note taking, if it's an action item and I've been able to finish it,  I use mole, skins and notebooks and so forth.

That's, I'm still kind of paper-based cause I can leave through it. 

 So I have this hieroglyphics sort of thing.

And then when I finished something,  if it's a do item I'll strike through it. So that way I know. Oh, I've done that. And when I go and scan through my notebook and go backwards, I can quickly see the things that are still outstanding that need to get done. So it's sort of like, my notebook is a bit of a to-do list that works for me.

Everybody, I think has their own sort of methodology, but 

you have to commit to taking notes. And I think that at its core, that's what our discussion really is about and why it's worth it to take notes because. I don't like when a sales person calls me up a week later and asked me a question that I know I explained to them.

On top of that, if you're in a sales environment where you're working with a team in any way you want to be able to get other people up to speed as quickly as possible. So that means having some notes one of the things I would also caution people against is salespeople can sometimes become enamored with their CRM and, and start spending all their time, loading everything in.

I find CRMs to be an enormous customer 

relation management software. 

Right.  They can be a remarkable tool, but they can be a colossal waste of time. And so it's important to have notes and put them into the CRM. But they should be notes that are going to be meaningful to somebody else.

They're going to be meaningful from a search standpoint and  they're meaningful in the sense that as you, as you pointed out, you're able to identify those unique characteristics about the customer so that you can kind of keep those in mind. If they have kids that are playing soccer, that may be helpful to know  if they're a Ravens fan or a Patriots fan then of course .

I have a client that told me they love bourbon and said oh, what's your favorite bottle?  And he told me, and I'm like, that's going in the CRM next time I see him. He has a bottle of that going in his lap.

And he's going to say,   I can't believe you remembered that.  

A smaller version of that is, oh, you recommended later on you recommended I try all granddad and I got it and it was great.

And boom, oh, that, you know, just in the same way, you've connected if you've got those kinds of notes in mind, especially if you can, if you can go back and search on that sort of stuff. That's great. Sometimes I put those things in my contacts for the phone.

When I first call with someone, I make sure I add their, their contact information  into my contact list. And, and when I met him or how I met him. So if I'm introduced to someone by someone. Then I know that because it's searchable  in my contacts list and then you have that sort of stuff.

And so your contacts list can be a really useful place to, to keep certain notes. And, when you get a phone call or you make a phone call you can see right away. Oh, they've they like bourbon?  Or they're a Ravens fan or, or they've got kids in soccer or what have you.

And so, you know, that sort of stuff and it's right at your finger. 

Do you review your notes before you meet with a client? Typically? 

Oh, yeah 

so you, you take the time. So if you have a call with me, say 11 o'clock today, and I was a client, you would go and look at your notes that you've taken the first meeting or from every 


No. Well, I would, I would certainly look back and, and see what we've talked about in the past. What's open I try to look at some of this stuff the day before to make sure that, that I don't have anything that I owe them.  That I haven't, that you haven't delivered on. Yeah.  I don't have a big problem with that,  but I do look back to see what we talked about.

I find that it's helpful just to refresh, and then that way that, that makes the conversation easier for them. Because if I remember stuff from our last conversation that I could easily prompt them and, that's sort of doing them a favor, it means that they don't have to do quite as much homework.

 It makes the conversation much more efficient in a lot of ways. And I think this goes back to the idea that you want to be able to be efficient for other people. If you can give them time back, if you can make this conversation more productive and notes, kind of all kind of help you to do that 

and show your level of.

Yeah. Yeah. How about I'm amazed. When, if someone mentions me in the first call and six months later, it's their birthday and I'm on the phone with them around there. I'm like, isn't your birthday around now? There's like, God, how'd, 

you know, that I'm like in the calendar, I put it in the calendar. 


Which is really, you know, not hard to do, but  I want you to see if you can answer this question for me,  there's at least one founder. Who's listening to this right now and going. I'm talking to my customers about my product or service.

 I just want to sell something to them. I don't want to take notes. I just want them to buy my product 

to go to Berlin. You say to that? Yeah. Going about it all wrong. I think mean, I think that, wow. 


words from Brendan to know. Well, I think if you're, if you're focused on just making a sale that Telegraph.

Really well, and you're going to alienate the people you're talking to because  their interests are elsewhere. Their interests, their are an understanding you understanding whether or not make it you're somebody they can trust and rely on. The sale. The sale will, will oftentimes take care of itself.

And if it's not a good fit, because  your product, doesn't meet their needs, then, , and I say this over and over again, you've, you've kind of done them and yourself. And then you've got a relationship at some level you've talked, you've been authentic. You've been focused on the right things, attentive, being attentive and being invested  in a real conversation.

And those things will, will pay off somehow. They just do. Whereas if you are so singularly focused on trying to get them to buy something that will. Backfire on you almost all the time. So  having  genuine interest and being able to document it  pays off and you don't, in some ways you don't know how you just don't know where it's going to, but it will.

Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I would add one more tip that just popped into my head. Have a place where you're putting stock, you talked about using most skin notebooks or I use a legal pad. What I try to avoid doing is putting notes on the back of an envelope and then on the back of a napkin and the back of a receipt and 18 different places, because I find that there's no system that then if you have notebooks to me, you know, whether it's composition book, loose-leaf notebook, whatever you want to do, then it's all there.

And you can go back to. And find it and not scramble around and be like, I know it's on the back of the receipt from TGI Friday's three Tuesdays ago. 

The way to do it, in my opinion, I'm a big fan of the perfect is the enemy of the good.  So a good system that you use is much better than a perfect system that you find to be.

An obstacle or to be overwhelmingly hard to implement. like I put contact information  in my phone which is really easy too,  with Google or apple or whatever, and you can have notes in there that are applicable to them.  Little background stuff then I put birthdays in calendar.

Or I sometimes put them in the CRM, but not really that office. And we wish 

me a happy birthday. People I've known him for like seven or eight years. He's never wished me a happy when's your birthday, Bob? December 17, 

December 17th. All right. Let's just, let's just see if that's in the calendar or not.

I'm going to be disappointed if I think you're, I think you're wrong. December 17th.  

You're not in there. And the host, when, when the most important person in my life says happy birthday to me, I'm well aware of it. So I don't think that's how. 

I love that, that, that seems sincere the way you said it.

So to, so Bob 

grants, it's a 

whole lot of second repeats. Hold on. We're doing this right now and you see 

this, this is a great test case.

Oh, I don't want to make it a zoom. Like, what 

am I doing here, folks, if you're listening because you're not watching, Brendan is actually on his computer now. And he's trying to look up, I think, on his calendar December 17. No, 

I got it. I got it. It's done. And we're there. You're now in memorialized forever.

It's. You were not. And here's why that is because, and I think 

this is important. I'm not offended. It's actually a great test case. Why wasn't I included? And the reality is I'm not a client of 

yours. Well, no, that's not the reason. The reason is 

 You haven't mentioned your birthday. Inadvertently in a conversation. And if you had said, oh, my birthday is on December 17th, I would have noted it immediately. Put it in. I don't go out and ask someone, Hey, when's your birthday? Okay, because , to me, that's sort of creepy,  but if someone says, oh yeah, well, I had my, you know, my birthday was last Tuesday.

I'd look at Tuesday and then I write into the calendar. So that's how I know people's birthdays. Not . Because I asked them because then it's sort of interesting. Oh, well, how did you know that?  That's where I put birthdays or, or, or anniversaries or other things important dates like that.

Or, and that's also where I put a note sometimes to say, oh, I should call this guy again in three months, I'll put that in my calendar. Or I put that in the CRM, but just whatever it makes sense. This goes back to my point is use a system that works for you if it's paper great,  but one source of paper.

It's a notebook and you can have a stack of notebooks. And then that way you can look back and it's not as searchable as having a CRM or whatever, but if it works for you and it's readily available, then that's the way to go. My gal uses she types and she types notes. As she's talking now, she can type like a maniac.

And so that works for her and she can type without looking at the keyboard. Whereas I, you know, It's jibberish. And so I'm not typing that sort of stuff and she can type notes in and boom, it's, it's a little distracting you know, in a meeting.  But so for me, I just, I I'll be talking to you and I'll write something down as I talk.

I don't even ask, I don't ask permission. I just do it. My notebooks out, like from the start of the call, it's just, it's the first thing that's out, right. Well, 

I would tell you if someone's getting into this to begin with, doesn't normally take notes, start with the notebook. Yup. Simple. Don't start with the CRM. It gets complicated. You get so wrapped up in technology and I find.

I played with my CRM a bit, but notebooks are just so much better in the end because. You can Chronicle something. And what I like is when you go back to look at something, you see something else like, oh shoot, I've got call him. I haven't called him. 

It's fast, they're fast. You can draw, you can put like arrows to things and you can, and you can.

And so 

color-coded, if you choose, I know people use highlighters and they highlight, you know, if it's an important thing that, that follow up on screen, it's yellow. If they already did it, it's now 

you've already gotten, you've lost me there. but for some, these, but are 

all kinds of systems. The key is to commit to whatever the system, 

whatever the system is, but don't overcomplicate it.

That's my right. 

And you're not obligated to take notes the way you did it in college or high. I'm giving you permission to walk away from college and high school. I'm giving you the power by the power. Invest in me five, the world that we live in. 

Here we go. I give you the past. This is what. An out of control. Sidekick looks like people, listeners. This is what happens when  it goes to their head and they think like,

  We are, we have we're off the trail. 

I was making a point 


So, Brenda, I think we've given people plenty enough. Can I can, I suggest to people, if you know someone in your life who struggles with note-taking or they brought the topic up to you, Hey, share this with them.

Hey, I listened to these crazy guys and I thought this might help you, you know, Do that networking that way. It's a great tool. The other thing you can do is we would love you to rate us five stars. Brendan checks, every single morning, how many, five star reviews we get. . I don't know that I have the capacity for this, 

and this is out of control. This is the episode subtitled witnessing an out of control sidekick. That's what this will be. This is about talking about notes.

Are we good? 

Are we good?

What's that I think we beat the crap out of this episode. Don't you?

Okay. Sometime Brandon or 

no, we're definitely doing this again. Cause you know what we can do better.