I used to believe I could remember everything.
I’m confident I did remember more when I was younger than I do now, but even then I couldn’t remember it all. Have you ever had one of those “million dollar ideas” only to forget the details that made it so profound a few days later? We all experience those absolutely clairvoyant moments believing we will remember the genius of our own thoughts, never bothering to write them down. Well, that’s what napkins are for. I can’t tell you the number of profitable business and personal ideas I have sketched out on the back of a napkin.
For salespeople to be successful, they must be able to remember facts, details, thoughts and actions relating to their customers and prospects. Write it down! If you don’t write it down you will surely forget it, or at least the important details. Don’t take a chance on a slip of your memory, it could mean the difference between landing a big sale or losing the opportunity of a lifetime. I remember years ago designing my mountain cabin on a napkin. The ideas just started flowing and instead of risking my ability to remember, I just started sketching, front, back, inside the fold and on several additional napkins.
Salespeople are problem solvers and you’ll never know when or where the solution to a customer’s problem will come into your mind. It could be any time and any place, so be prepared. Smart phones have the ability for note taking either in written or verbal forms. If that isn’t convenient, then carry a few 3x5 cards in your pocket. I frequently find myself making notes on the back of business cards so I can remember those flashes of wisdom that come when least expected. If you carry a day planner of some sort, you can always record your thoughts on the notes pages in your binder.
Another very important time for note taking is during a presentation. Remember, the most important part of any presentation is discovery; the fact finding phase that must precede the solution phase. Always take notes! Note taking during the discovery phase of the presentation will allow you to ask clarifying questions about the things your prospect has said. The notes become a resource for future evaluation and problem solving. Asking permission to take notes is an act of courtesy and a subtle reminder to them that you are paying attention to what they are saying and that their words are important to you. You are building their trust in your ability to solve their problems when they see you taking notes.
Note taking will keep your prospects honest. In future meetings they might say or present arguments different than stated in earlier meetings. You can pull out your notes and remind them of their prior statements or position, reminding them you know the facts and are not an easy target for manipulation. You will gain their respect from your thoroughness to detail. Through effective note taking and reviewing your notes prior to future conversations, you will demonstrate your photographic memory to your prospects. A keen mind for facts and detail will give you the upper hand in every negotiation.