Whiteboarding is emerging as a mainstream enablement tool in B2B technology companies that actually contributes real value during the sales cycle.
Having trained several thousand sales and support people in the Whiteboardselling methodology over the past 18 months, my observations on the most valuable aspects of whiteboarding as an enablement methodology are:-
- Creating clarity in your value proposition and building it into a story that everyone can tell is an excellent initial win. Most companies confess that their messaging is somewhere between 2-3/5 for clarity when we start the process.
- Message Ownership - in 1/2 a day Whiteboardselling training Symposium salespeople either see or do the whiteboard up to 9 times using an active learning method and on the very next day they can give the whiteboard, - they know it.
- Consistency and confidence in telling the story are the knock-on benefits for individuals and this is important in creating differentiation in the mind of the buyer - when the competition are saying the same things you are.
What is under appreciated about whiteboarding is that sales-people will find it very difficult get up and whiteboard on an ad-hoc basis....unless they have already decided what they want to say and practiced what they are going to draw.
A pre-requisite for salespeople to whiteboard effectively is a visual story that centers around what the buyer is trying to achieve, that salespeople can use to engage the buyer in conversation.
A Simple Visual Confection - the Whiteboardselling method
My observations in riding shotgun on many sales-calls as a sales trainer are that salespeople can often get a meeting, but when they are face-face with senior executives, often don't know how to engage in a business discussion and thus revert to where they are more comfortable - discussing their products, and the meeting terminates shortly thereafter.
Ten Tips for Effective Whiteboard Engagement
- A whiteboard session is a conversation aid to help you engage the buyer, - not a presentation....if you feel yourself going into presentation mode, stop, ask a question and get the buyer talking.
- Learn the script and practice the opening, if it is well constructed, it will use a challenging opening and positioning statements to engage the buyer immediately.
- No "marketing-speak" or gobbledybook when you whiteboard. For example, instead of the word "redefine" use "change"; instead of "revolutionary use "different" ...people don't feel like they are being sold when you use plain English.
- The goal of the whiteboarding session is to engage the buyer in conversation and have your capabilities unfold naturally in conversation - not to demonstrate your prowess as an artist or orator.
- Learn the whiteboard story and practice it in private and when you are ready, practice with your peers and your managers until you own it, ask them for feedback to improve technique, (it will take 20 iterations until you own it).
- Get the buyer's issues out in red on the whiteboard and drill down on them, quantify them and figure out together if they are worth solving and how to solve them.
- You don’t have to start the whiteboard at the start, you don't have to strictly adhere to the build sequence and you don’t have to finish the whiteboard. You only need to engage the buyer around one or two issues to get a commitment to advance the sale to next steps.
- Carry a BIC 4 color pen and your own set of whiteboard markers with you, so that you can tell your story on any surface or in case the markers in the meeting room are dry or missing.
- Carry a visual confection (your completed whiteboard story) printed on high quality A-3 paper into the meeting, folded in half in your note book. Use it in the following situations;
- there is no whiteboard or it's full of writing already with "do not erase" written on it,
- your meeting is cut short and you need to get key concepts across in a couple of minutes,
- you are at lunch and there is no writing surface,
- Follow up by sending a meeting summary that embeds the completed whiteboard visual confection in the letter outlining their issues and how your capabilities can solve their problems - and agreed next steps.