Automate This: Handwritten Notes in Your CRM
For years I suffered from having handwritten notes in physical notepads. That presented me with several issues:
- too little time to transfer handwritten notes into CRM;
- having to flip through pages and pages to get to the right note about the right client;
- not knowing which specific notepad the notes were in;
- …and worst of all, not having all the notes with me on the go.
As you can imagine I’d been seeking a good solution for years. There are several offerings out there and several ways, and through testing I’ve settled with the following, which will get you centralized digital notes and allows you to store everything in your favourite central storage location.
Here’s what we need for the full solution:
- Tablet with Stylus
- Note-taking software: Microsoft OneNote
- An automation tool – we’ll use Zapier
- A CRM – we’ll use our favourite: Salesflare
There are ways to get handwritten notes from physical notepads digitalized, but they almost always involve manual action. Manual action is time consuming at scale, prone to errors, and the worst is that it’s inconsistent – despite all good intentions it sometimes doesn’t happen at all.
That’s why instead we need a way of taking our notes digitally. Enter the stylus-equipped tablet. You’ll probably be choosing between iOS on iPad vs and Android tablet.
Let’s look at the iPads available at the time of writing. The only iPad you certainly should not pick is the 2018 iPad as the screen makes for a poor experience in combination with the Apple Pencil. Also you’ll notice reflections a lot more on this old screen. To me the only right choice is an iPad Pro because of the Apple Pencil latency (time from you physically writing to your writing appearing on the screen). In addition the Pro supports Apple Pencil 2, which you don’t have to plug in to the side of the iPad.
In the Android space there are several options as well and some of them come with the best stylus on the market: the Samsung S-Pen. Both Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0, as well as both the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and S4 support the S-Pen. Alternatives include Huawei Mediapad M5 Lite and Pro which come with solid styluses as well.
Finally if you’re a Windows 10 fan, the Microsoft Surface Go or the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with their styluses, which seem to work really well too.
There are SO many apps around for note-taking. Most of them work really well. Our pick is Microsoft’s OneNote, because it works with almost everything – with Windows 10, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Web for everything else.
It has a killer-feature most other note-taking software does not: Zapier integration.
This puts OneNote in a small exclusive club of what looks like three offerings:
The following will work with all three, and of the three OneNote is clearly the offering with the easiest access to and feature set for handwritten notes.
Shifting to Automatic
If you’ve run through everything above you now have your notes in one digital place for you to reach anywhere when you’re on the go. It’s easily available on all your devices and searchable for flexible access to the right data. In other words it’s a significant step in the right direction from physical notes, which are lost in the flood of other papers, notes, and general busyness.
How about other members of your team, though? And what if you leave? And how about meetings other members of your extended sales teams have with clients?
We really do want all this data in one place, and we really don’t want that to cost any effort.
That’s why you must automate the collection of notes into a single location. Preferrably where all your other communication with clients goes automatically: Your CRM.
- Go to the Zapier Dashboard
- Under “Connect this app…” select “OneNote”. Under “with this one!” select “Salesflare” and click “Make a Zap!”
- As Trigger select “New Note in Section” from the less used options. Make sure to select the correct Notebook and Section.
- Move forward to the Action step. Zapier will suggest that you create a search in Salesflare. Do that.
- In the search setup, head for the field called “Name (optional)”. Have it look for the “Title” from the OneNote note. If you like, you can define that if no company with that name exists, one must be created. This ensures that in the event no account with the precise name exists one will be created and thus your notes will still find their way into your CRM. When done, hit Continue.
- Now you need to select “Create Internal Note” as a Salesflare action.
Since you can’t have an image of your note saved in Salesflare, you need to create a link to your note on OneNote. Here’s how to do that.
Note that you must include the URL as part of a little HTML code – it will otherwise not be clickable. Using this method, it will be. If you wish you can include a Note Date. If you use the date field as displayed there will be a data stamp in the actual note. Thanks to the guys at Salesflare for stellar support in figuring this out.
And that’s it – your handwritten notes now appear in your CRM effortlessly.
Have fun working less with your CRM and searching less for your notes – and good selling !