This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
One of the primary reasons that I use customer-relationship management software is because I find it more and more valuable to keep a client conversation log.
During the course of calling on and acquiring your clients, you have a lot of conversations. Later, it’s difficult to remember what exactly was said, who said it, and in what context. Your extended brain needs to include a record of your conversations.
Their Questions and Needs
As you work through your sales process, your clients ask questions and they describe their needs. They share with you the outcomes that they need, and they have questions about how you will help them achieve those outcomes. It’s difficult to remember all of their ideas and their questions, but later you will need them.
Capturing the conversation in a conversation log will allow you to later recall what your client said. As you move through the process, and as you build a solution with your client, recalling the details of these conversations will improve your proposed solution and will also allow you to integrate these conversations into your presentation.
When you are working with your team, and when you are handing off the client to your operations team, these conversation logs will provide your team with insight into how the client’s need developed and how they are going to need to serve them.
When you capture your client’s language and their needs, you are capturing what’s important to them. That helps focus you on your client’s needs.
Your Promises and Commitments
Keeping a client conversation log is also a discipline that helps you keep your promises and your commitments. Too often salespeople make commitments and promises that they intend to keep but don’t. I’m not thinking about overpromising here as much as I am the smaller promises like providing the client with information or following up to close some open loop.
Being trusted requires that you keep your promises and commitments. Keeping your promises and commitments means remembering that you made the promises.
Many salespeople still keep paper notes. Too few move their conversation logs into their sales force automation software. But taking the few minutes to add your client’s thoughts and your commitments is worth the time it takes to do so. It provides you with a chance to review the conversation while it is still fresh in your mind.
But it may be even more critical that you take the time to recall your commitments and promises. Your client’s remember the commitments that you made, even when you don’t. They do keep score, and they do believe that you keeping your commitments is a preview of what they can expect from you in the future.
How do you record and track the conversations you have with your clients and prospects?
How do you retrieve that information when you need it? How do you share the information you need with your team?
How do you recall the commitments and promises you made? What about the small promises that don’t seem that important to you but that your client remembers?
How does retaining this information and your commitments build trust?