Do you wish you could remember the details of your conversations with prospects and clients? The more time that passes, the less likely you are to recall the details of any conversation. Have you ever promised to send something to your client and then forgotten because you were overwhelmed with work and life? Have you ever been reminded about a commitment you made?
Tony Stubblebine, the CEO of the platform Medium is credited with coining the term interstitial journaling, which is a way of recording three key pieces of information about each thing you do:
- The time you spent on a particular task or conversation
- A summary of what you did and what was said
- The first step you should take in following up
However, I believe the concept is a lot older, going back as far as Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. One difference is that Stubblebine’s approach includes documenting when he starts and when he finishes a task. If you are intrigued by this productivity strategy, start with Stubblebine’s article.
I use interstitial journaling to document interactions with my teams, clients, family, and friends. I use Roam Research because it allows me to see all the notes about a person or company on one page. I take a lot of notes during conversations so I can capture the details, but I also use interstitial journaling for projects; like Stubblebine, I write a narrative around my work.
Benefits for B2B Sales Professionals
I want to encourage you to start this practice so you can improve your sales results, but it will also help you with your life outside of sales. At some point, someone will ask you a question about some work issue, and you’ll be able to scroll back and provide the details. These are the results that naturally follow:
- Improved productivity: This practice will improve your productivity by documenting the time you start on a task and when you completed it. You can use your journal entry’s timestamps to assess where and how you spend your time. You may notice you are spending too little time prospecting or building relationships with your existing clients.
- Better organization: One of the challenges faced by busy professionals managing incoming emails, InMail’s, meetings, projects, and meetings, making it difficult to stay organized and focused. An interstitial journal is a central location for capturing and reviewing all incoming information, helping provide a sense of control and perspective.
- Improved performance: By capturing the details your contact shared with you, you can improve your sales performance. Using interstitial journaling, you can refer to your notes and incorporate what your clients said in the past.
- Conscious learning opportunities. If you are introspective enough to record what you learn during each client pursuit and assess your sales performance, you may want to record why your client chose to buy from you, or why they bought from your competition. This can help you in future pursuits.
Improving Sales Team Communication with the Technique
As sales organizations evolve into revenue teams, the CRM has become something more than “Big Brother.” Now it serves as a single source of truth that other departments need to rely on for the information and insights they need to pursue and grow clients. The reason you may use an app for your interstitial journaling is that it makes it easy to share.
Tips for Effective Journaling
- Don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about getting interstitial journaling right or wrong. Timestamp an entry and jot down in your journal what you are doing or what you need to remember. Eventually, you will find a practice that works for you.
- Be consistent. This may require you to choose an app for your phone or to carry a journal with you wherever you go. The value of this technique is that it becomes more valuable the more you do it.
- Explore your options. Before committing to an app or a journal, experiment with different tools, ensuring you find “the one.” I have made the mistake of using multiple apps for different areas of my life, and I can confirm it’s best to keep all notes in one place.
- Consider functionality that works for you. One of the reasons I use Roam Research is because they have all my notes start on a daily page. Scrolling back to a day will provide you with what you did then, but you can also search terms to find your notes in seconds.
Sales Improvement and Interstitial Journaling
According to David Allen, the creator of GTD (Getting Things Done) your brain is for thinking, not remembering. With so many conversations and communications, it is difficult to remember what is important. Part of the value of interstitial journaling is learning about yourself as you capture your thoughts.