Michael Stone in his regular newsletter suggests that once you complete a sales call, you should log situations where you encounter objections and your sales call fails. Here is some of the narrative. You can read the complete posting here.
Your notes do not have to be long-winded, but they need to cover the conversation you had with the potential customer. You need to write enough so that when you go back a week or two later, you will be able to know almost exactly what was said, by whom, and why.
Your notes will tell you a story of your habits in front of your customer, both good and bad. When you make a sale, you will know what you did right and what you said to get there. And when you miss a sale, your notes will show you not only what was said and by whom, but also what you could or should have said differently. Should you have asked a different question, more questions, tougher questions, or worked harder towards getting the commitment from the customer?
Did you make commitments to the customer without getting a commitment in return? A good example of this is offering to do an estimate without getting your customer to commit to a decision when you quote the final price. Your question should be, “If I prepare a firm price quotation for you, are you prepared to make a decision to proceed with this job?” Get a commitment from them.
Did you keep things cordial and upbeat? Did you allow one or both of the customers to drift away from you during the sales call? Did one of them leave the appointment and if so, what did you do about it? Did you stay focused on making the sale or did it turn into a social call?
You need to be brutally honest, or this exercise serves no purpose. If you are frank, over time you’ll recognize any bad or annoying habits which might be costing you sales.
Have your spouse or a friend who can be honest with you read your book. They might find it easier to pick up habits or things that you are saying that are causing a problem. If you find that you’re getting the same response on three or more calls in a row, such as “your price is too high,” it is almost always something you’re planting in the minds of your customer.
Stone makes clear that this practice is uncommon. Most of the time, when we go on a sales call that doesn’t go right, we leave with our head down, and sometimes feel doubt in our own abilities. But if we can log the results, and as we memorialize the information, learn about trends, experiences and behaviours.
In 2017, while you could create a “book” you could also record your observations on your phone and arrange for an inexpensive transcription of the file, keeping the records on your computer.
While Stone writes for residential contractors, I think the advice here has value in the ICI sector as well.