From time to time on our Sales Courses we’re asked about the best way to breach the subject of taking notes in a client meeting. Some state they’re worried about asking or simply taking out their notebooks because it may put the client off or slow down the meeting.
Also, some have asked whether it’s OK to use a tablet rather than a notebook, or whether it may look a bit pretentious to use such technology.
Actually, I’ve never met a customer who has objected to me making notes during a meeting. It’s a natural thing to do, but still some may not know how to do it effectively. Here’s my take on making it look professional:
A Chinese proverb states, “The faintest ink is better than the greatest memory”. You don’t want to miss out something important in your records. So it is always good to have some form of record of what the meeting was about
The way to approach it is, at the start of a meeting take out your tablet or notebook as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.
As you open it up, establish eye contact and say “You’re ok with me taking notes, aren’t you?” Say it as if it’s a foregone conclusion the obvious answer will be “Yes, of course!”, which it almost definitely will be. (I’ve yet to come across a prospect who has said, “Actually, I would like you to memorise my every word rather than write them down!”)
The benefit of taking notes is that you can control the pace of the conversation. If the prospect sees you writing, they are more likely to slow down rather than race ahead. Also, they may take more time to consider what they are saying, if they know that each word may be dissected and transcribed.
Write down only the key points. You’re a consultant, not interviewing a star for a front-page tabloid story. The main points are those things that are most important for you to remember and will help you assimilate the solution for this specific client.
Writing notes will help you resist the temptation to interrupt, as you will be concentrating on what they are talking about rather than thinking through what you wish to say in response. It actually changes the whole complexion of the conversation and turns you into the listener rather than the salesperson. This will aid you in building rapport, rather than losing it, as many people think when they take notes.
When you get to a specific point, you can then take control by saying something like, “So, Mr Client, what I see from our discussions so far is….” and you can then cover the main points so the client can see you’ve really appreciated the situation from their viewpoint.
After the meeting, use your notes to be absolutely clear on the needs of this specific client from this meeting. If necessary, link them up with notes from other meetings you may have had from them, so you can see the connections and identify the way forward from now on.
As you can see, there isn’t really any need to feel nervous about taking notes. They are simply another way to show the prospect how important you see the discussions. Done correctly, it will add to your professionalism and help them see the benefits of dealing with you, the real consultant.