Agenda Usage for Sales-focused Engineer

Hello Agenda Community!

I’m going to apologize ahead of time for what will likely be a lengthy post. :sweat_smile: I’m also not sure this should be in Support, but I’m not sure how to put it where it needs to go as I don’t have all the options. New community poster :slight_smile:

Quick background on me. I’m a pre-sales engineer supporting a couple sales-focused folks. I cover roughly 250 customers across three states. I have been a long-time user of another note-focused application that works really well for some things, and struggles with others.

I looked at Agenda a couple of years ago, and it just didn’t make sense for the role I was in. With the switch to customer/sales-focused engagements that are almost always calendar/date referenced, I had my ah-ha moment with Agenda. We’re heading into the start of our next fiscal year, so I’m taking some time now to prep and be ready to hit the ground running. I downloaded Agenda last week, and paid for the premium features sight-unseen. I wanted to have the full experience out of the gate to see if this product can really work for me.

Overall, there’s a ton of stuff here that absolutely lines up for me. I do have a couple things I’m struggling with that I’d love some feedback on. Let me quickly break down my note organization/structure.

Every customer I have is a “project” and are broken down into “categories” based on their location. I have another category for “Internal Meetings”, with projects related to each recurring internal meeting. I have one additional category for “Sync Meetings”, with projects for every account manager I sync with on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. Basically, my projects are people or customers. I don’t do any real project work.

Here are the things I’m struggling with:

  1. The inability to create a view/filter to see ALL TASKS across ALL projects is KILLING me. This is the #1 thing I miss most about my previous note-taking application. I type tasks in-line during meeting notes. At times, I talk with 6-8 customers a day. With each being a separate project, trying to track down tasks is impossible. I know this is something support has identified as on the roadmap (and that can’t come soon enough).

Does anyone have any ideas on how to manage this until that feature hopefully comes? I do NOT want to use another app. I also do not want to tie this into Apple Reminders. I just need to see a list of any customer who has an outstanding action item. The only thing I’ve come up with so far is to be diligent about making every note I take with an action on “On the Agenda”.

I do know you can mark a note as “done” but I’m not sure I understand this workload, and I wasn’t able to easily make a view to show “All Undone Notes”. Could have just missed it as I just started using Agenda :slight_smile: ANY HELP here would be greatly appreciated.

  1. I like to keep my “sync” calls, which are really book of business review separate and related to each account manager. The issue I have on those is that we often talk about multiple customers in those sessions. I’ve struggled with how to link a couple of bullet points about a customer BACK to the customer project. I’d like to be able to see the customer project with the list of notes, but also see where else that customer may have been mentioned as a part of a sync call.

I thought about tagging. I thought about potentially linking the notes (but I haven’t played with that). Does anyone have any ideas here? Trying to flip between customers, creating a new note for each time we bring up a customer, etc. isn’t feasible. So I kept everything on that sync meeting note, but would love to “reference” them all together somehow. This could be just me not knowing how yet, but I’d love some feedback.

I think those are the big two for me right now. The tasks thing kills me. I purchased the app knowing this was an issue, but hoping I could get some feedback one when that might be sorted out. But any help from any of you folks would be awesome. Thanks so much!!! I’m excited about Agenda, but just have to find a system for these bumps!

1 Like

(Moved this over to “Talk”. Think you will get more feedback there.)

My advice for now would be to have a tag (eg “needs-action”). Then make a saved search with that tag search (#need-action). When you finish all the tasks in a note, remove the tag.

As you point out, we do have plans for better search/filtering/summarizing. It’s a big change though, so can’t do it quickly.

I’m sure others have suggestions too…

Hi Evan,
Maybe this will help you figure out your own system.

Having 250 projects running is a lot! Are all of them listed as separate projects in the project bar? If they are, then creating an overview of all open ends shouldn’t be difficult.

I use a project template (project main) for all of my projects (clients). It has 4 parts:

  1. Description, due date, contacts
  2. Planning
  3. Notes / ideas etc
  4. Documents

Every part has links to notes with to-do’s, checklists, documents, calendar items, emails etc. Their titles are listed in “main" and can be checked off.

Ok. Let’s say I have a new client. I make a new “project main”. We have a meeting and I enter my meeting notes in a separate note linked to project main. In most cases such meetings lead to all kinds of to-do’s which are listed in the meeting note.

Only when I have checked off all them there, I can check it off in project main.

I tag notes with:

  • Do
  • Focus
  • Delegate
  • Maybe

I have saved overviews for them; “on the agenda” + “#Do" (or #Focus etc). I take the notes that have been checked off (in main), off the agenda, so what you end up with is everything that still has to be done. Adding dates make them even more exact.

Kind regards,

Rob

2 Likes

@robbie07

Would you be willing to share a screen shot or two of your flow (as long as it isn’t going to violate any private matters)?

I’ve been creating a “project” for every customer so far. I only have a few as I haven’t pulled any data over from my old system. Truthfully, I’m just running the next week or two this way to see if I can make everything work before I fully commit.

So, I create a new project titled “Acme Corporation”. I create a new note on that project that I pin as a footnote with the “Overview” of that customer. That note contains the account managers assigned to them, notes about the company in general, and any contacts I have for that company. When I have a call scheduled with them, I create a new note, link it to the meeting invite on my calendar, and just start taking notes, action items, etc. If I meet with them again a week later, I do the same process. If I have a particularly long interaction with that customer via email, I document the gist of it on a new note as well, and tie it to the date of the email exchange.

My thought process here was to have a single project for every customer, with every significant interaction dated as a sort of “log” under that customer. If they get moved out from my area of coverage, I could archive that note and move on.

Right now, I have just been leaving any interaction I have that still has action items “On the Agenda” so I can review them that way. It works, but requires a lot of manual interaction to keep that list clean, etc. It’s working honestly, so it’s probably okay for now, but I think you approach makes sense.

I followed what you were doing for the most part, but got a little confused when you talked about the main project and linking them back. That’s where you lost me. Hence the request for a picture :slight_smile:

1 Like

I like this a lot. I do this for things where there’s a pretty clear sub-project breakdown (like for a long-running course with multiple lessons, where each lesson can have lots of its own tasks). I hadn’t thought to do that with action items from meetings though… that’s great.

1 Like

The idea:
This is a “project main”. It lists links to different notes and documents.

One of them is this, the “meeting with M” note (should be “on the agenda”).


This gives overviews on different levels; obviously in Project Main and via a saved overview of “‘Do” + “on the agenda”.

Hope this helped,

Rob

6 Likes

Interesting. Thanks for this

1 Like

I use a similar approach to overviews described here for more complex projects.

One conceptual change that I’ve found useful is the realisation that I don’t need the detail of all the checklist tasks in one place. I just need to know the what I need to focus on next.

So I may have a note about redesigning a webpage: with checklists items like “review Bill’s comments”, “check competitors page” etc. But I don’t need those to plan my day at a high level, I just need to know I’m going spend two hours on “redesign web page”.

1 Like

Brilliant example @robbie07 :smiley:

Also nicely timed: I would highly recommend the NestedFolder podcast from yesterday in which @heyscottyj explains his workflows and how he is able to organise and stay on top of a serious amount of ongoing projects. Especially the way how he generates the kind of overviews @robbie07 shows above using Shortcuts is very impressive. Worth your time!

Thanks!
I guess my corona lockdown-time was well spent.
I’ll enjoy the @heyscottyj podcast later (because here Internet has been down since yesterday afternoon).

Cheers,
Rob

1 Like

Appreciate all the feedback here guys. It’s certainly something I can try to make work.

For me, Agenda feels almost like a VERY light CRM for me. Because my “projects” are 100% customer focused, I tend to use them as a single place for all documentation around that customer. Every interaction, date-driven for reference.

I’ll check out that podcast. I might be able to glean some things from there. My system is working (albeit just a week or two into it), but I still struggle a bit with all of the tasks. Not a deal breaker certainly. Thanks for the feedback folks!

1 Like

I know you said you don’t want to use Reminders. I originally felt the same way! I’m now experimenting with the Time Sector method with Agenda and Reminders, threads:

I’m finding it useful so far, but am probably going to also use tags and searches alongside for some issues.

Just in case it’s helpful!

1 Like

I listened to your podcast last night, @heyscottyj. Lovely!
We share quite some views, for example on the flexibility of Agenda - “when you start using Agenda do it without a greater plan” had to do with that, I think.

Start to use Agenda means your approach will evolve over time - as does your business, your private life etc etc. Plants! - and Agenda evolves with you.

What really impressed me, is the way you combine shortcuts with Agenda. I’m not really into those yet but I will be … sometime.

You’re a big OF fan and so am I. And although I’m still impressed by OF, I don’t use it anymore. Since a couple of weeks I use Agenda (with Reminders integration) exclusively. I have tooled it into a CRM, a cookbook, a Zettelkasten, a diary, a shopping … thing, etc etc. Templates especially, turned out to be a great help!

I find that by using it as the tool, I’m much more involved in the projects I’m running.

Everything gets done, and more.

Thanks for a great podcast!

Rob

3 Likes

I’m in sales and have almost the same use case. Have you thought about this?

I created a Category called “Clients” and a Subcatagory for each Client. Every client project has its own Project. Projects in my case tie to Opportunities in Salesforce.

In each client project I have notes “Project Overview”, “Project participants/contact info”, “Project Artifacts”, “Project Proposals/SOW/CR/POs” and “Project To Do".

All to do’s for a project get put in a “to do checklist" note so I dont have to dig around. I do have a bunch of “to do checklist” notes for all my projects and I’m hopeful the Agenda folks have an elegant way to manage this in the future. If not, I may just Hook my to dos to Omnifocus…. (see below)

Finally, I add notes as I have meetings, project status meetings, and calls with stakeholders on the projects.

This seems to work for me.

I found templates are your friend! Hope we have project templates in the future.

One last thing - I use HOOK to connect external emails, documents, contacts, web pages, spreadsheets, PPTs, etc and embed those links right in the notes.

Cheers,

Mark

2 Likes