As a business owner (or someone managing a business), whether you’re meeting with a new client or an existing one, note-taking is one strategy that will accomplish more for you than most people realise. Here are 10 things you should keep in mind as you prepare for your next meeting:
1. If you’ve been given an appointment to meet with a prospective client, you’re better off listening to their past, present and anticipated needs, instead of talking about how great your product or service is. Pulling out your notepad and pen, and asking questions, is a great way to respond to “So, what can I do for you?”
2. By taking out your notepad and pen, you’re not just preparing to gather information. You’re sending a message to your client or prospective client: I am a professional, I am organized and your words are important to me.
3. When taking notes, use paper, not your laptop, tablet or Blackberry. You’ve probably always known that there’s “something” about writing with an actual pen, on actual paper, that comes across better than typing away on an electronic device while a client is talking. It’s the human connection, and you want to preserve that because inasmuch as you want to be efficient, clients are people.
4. Avoid loose sheets of paper, the backs of envelopes, tacky jotters, etc. that detract from the professional image you’re trying to present.
5. Clients and would-be clients talk more when they see you’re taking notes than when you’re not, and the more they talk, the more you have to write. This cycle is very crucial because you need every bit of information from them that will help you do a better job, or a better pitch so they can hire you.
6. Note-taking helps you really listen and take in important points that would otherwise have been missed, giving you a clearer picture of how your product or service can benefit your client or prospect, and how best to meet their needs. You might even observe needs they are not aware of!
7. You can go through your notes later and come up with intelligent, relevant questions to ask at your next meeting with the client. This helps you stand out, and your client will remember.
8. You can take your notes in a way that suits you as an individual. If you’re a very visual person you can add diagrams to your notes. Otherwise you can use lists, and underline keywords as you go along. You can also use different coloured pens if that helps you stay focused.
9. You can always type up your notes when you get back to the office if you prefer that – I often do. Sometimes when a client is talking a lot, notes can get sloppy and typing them up later is a great idea. It also makes it easier for you to refer to information when you’ve started work on a project; especially information regarding the kinds of results the client really wants to see.
10. Always include dates, topics and meeting venues in your notes. This saves you time and stress when you’re trying to track what was said when and for which project. This is particularly handy when you’ll be having more than one meeting with a particular client, or handling more than one project for them.
So you see, as basic as note-taking is, it has many benefits for you, as someone who has something to sell. Take advantage of it!