Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

Visual Storytelling Survey Yields Startling Results

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Jan 09, 2013

Yesterday Corporate Visions announced the results of its fourth quarter industry survey on visual storytelling, which was taken by more than 300 business-to-business (B2B) salespeople and marketers around the globe.

The findings reveal a lack of visual storytelling techniques among marketing and sales teams, and specifically, that only 13 percent of salespeople use an interactive writing surface such as a whiteboard to support their customer conversations.

To determine what role whiteboard selling techniques play in marketing and sales teams who work in complex B2B selling environments, Corporate Visions presented questions about the use of whiteboards, how they are created, by whom and why they are used. Notable findings from the Q4 survey include: 

Whiteboards are barely used

Respondents noted they use whiteboarding just 13 percent of the time to tell a visual story as part of sales conversations. The other tools mentioned most often were PowerPoint (33 percent), phone (26 percent) and in-person conversations (27 percent), which employ little to no visual components. This means salespeople are losing out on the opportunity to present ideas in a more engaging way, and to differentiate their messages, conversations and presentations to customers and prospects.

Whiteboarding is not an on-purpose effort

Of those who actually report using whiteboards, 51 percent say they create them ad-hoc or borrow them from their peers. Only 24 percent are pre-built and approved as part of a strategic marketing and sales support program. For whiteboarding to be effective, marketing needs to develop the messages and tools alongside the sales team to make sure everyone is delivering a consistent, high-quality message. By pre-building whiteboards, salespeople are given the ability to deliver a simple, repeatable story with confidence and create a differentiated experience in the buying cycle. 

Whiteboards, when used effectively, can be leveraged in various ways – 

Respondents who use whiteboards specified they are essential to the buying cycle in a number of different ways, including:
  • 25 percent – presenting/differentiating their solution from the competition
  • 17 percent – illustrating the business impact of their solution
  • 8 percent – demand generation
  • 6 percent – explaining the implementation process
By leveraging the power of visual storytelling, salespeople can help illustrate their ideas in a simple, concrete way that will help them at various key moments in the sales process.

In fact, recent research by Aberdeen Group found that 53 percent of best-in-class companies identified creating more meaningful conversations as a top priority for increasing and sustaining revenue in an uncertain economy.
Furthermore, the firm found conducting an interactive whiteboard conversation (as opposed to a static presentation) leads to a 50 percent higher lead conversion rate, 29 percent shorter time-to-productivity and 15 percent average shorter sales cycle – helping to combat the meaningful conversation problem among businesses.

Aberdeen Group Whiteboarding Survey Dec 2012


"It's clear from the results of this survey that visual storytelling techniques like whiteboarding are alarmingly underutilized by both marketing and sales teams," said Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer, Corporate Visions. "87 percent of today's companies are using static techniques, rather than having intimate and visually interactive conversations, which is what whiteboarding allows companies to do. Marketing and sales teams need to work together to create pre-built whiteboards that are going to differentiate themselves in the sales cycle, which in turn, will help them close more deals."

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Topics: visual storytelling, whiteboarding, corporate visions

Whiteboard Selling acquired by Corporate Visions - Visual Storytelling goes mainstream

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Sep 04, 2012

Whiteboard Selling is now a part of Corporate Visions.

Effective Friday 31st August 2102, Corporate Visions now owns Whiteboard Selling. Whiteboard Selling co-founders, Corey Sommers and David Jenkins and their affiliate partners have developed over 500 whiteboards over the past 5 years for more than 50 companies. The whiteboard stories are used to help salespeople own their value creation message and to engage buyers in conversation, without using PowerPoint slides. 

YOUR VISUAL STORYTELLING JUST GOT BETTER


The strength in the Whiteboard Selling approach is in capturing a companies value proposition in a visual story. Whiteboard Selling creates a visual story and synchronized script that salespeople can quickly learn to tell in a 1/2 day workshop, so that they are more confident in front of customers and their conversations are more consistent across the company.  A well constructed Whiteboard story will enable salespeople to engage buyers around their issues to answer that question and that makes the conversation compelling for the buyer. 

Visual StoryTelling hits a Tipping Point in Sales

This acquisition signals a tipping point in the adoption of visual storytelling in sales and a recognition that the old ways of selling, led by questioning technique that looked for pain, coupled with PowerPoint presentations that laid out the solution to the buyers problem are over.

The integration of Corporate Visions messaging process and the Whiteboard Selling visual tools is an ideal fit in a new acquisition for Corporate Visions.

Take a look at  Selling Power's Top 10 list of sales training companies in 2011 and drill down on their approaches. About half are rooted in traditional question-based consultative selling which I contend is obsolete, of the other half, some are getting started in storytelling, but very few have the clarity of Corporate Visions, with their focus on messaging and conversations to equip salespeople to disrupt the status-quo, who now have the visual tools to effectively engage buyers.

The Majority of Salespeople are Spectators in the Buying Process

Anyone in selling today will admit that the selling process has given over to the facilitation of a buying process. This means that most B2B salespeople are unwilling spectators in a buying process which has disintermediated all but the salespeople who are able to connect with buyers, engage in conversation around their issues and develop trust and influence as consultants first and salespeople second.

But what specifically are the 13% of successful producers in the Sales Benchmark Index report doing that is different from the core group? Research shows that these salespeople have highly evolved interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence and are using stories to engage buyers… either because they are story-telling naturals or because they have learned and mastered the techniques.

This is the essence of the Corporate Visions approach and combining visual storytelling tools from Whiteboard Selling gives customers of both companies a complete methodology to help improve the performance of the core group. Naturally nothing happens without disciplined practice, coaching and feedback from sales management teams, and that is also part of the methodology.    

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Topics: whiteboard selling, visual storytelling, corporate visions

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