I was in Las Vegas last month with a team of eight sales enablement professionals from WhiteboardSelling to facilitate a Whiteboard Selling Symposium as part of a global sales kick-off event for over three thousand front line sales and presales support people. Our client, a major player in the virtualization business (I'm writing this as an affiliate partner of WhiteboardSelling) will remain nameless as we are under NDA.
Our client had experienced rapid growth in recent years and had significantly increased field headcount globally. In the midst of this hiring and as part of a broad-reaching cloud initiative, they needed a way to enable and train their global field organization in the new company positioning, messaging and value proposition so that they could more effectively position product capabilities and differentiate the value of their solutions to C-Level buyers.
Out with PowerPoint
Instead of the traditional sales kick-off PowerPoint whipping on the latest and greatest product features and benefits and product positioning, the company was looking for creative new approaches to engage field sales personnel in hands-on exercises to accelerate learning and to change the odds in selling face-face and over the phone the very next day.
In with Whiteboarding
Our cleint's sales enablement and sales leadership teams evaluated a variety of different training options for their kick-off event and selected WhiteboardSelling as the foundation for the event's sales training program.
Story Development, Planning and Preparation
Well in advance of the event, the founders of WhiteboardSelling, Corey Sommers and David Jenkins worked hand in hand with the client on the design and development of the "Corporate Story" Whiteboard, along with six different solution whiteboards, to enable "drill-down" discussions branching from the main whiteboards.
WhiteboardSelling applied various best-practice approaches, (WhiteboardSelling founders have been working in the field of sales enablement for more than 15 years) tools and technology to facilitate the Whiteboard message development process, which involved multiple constituents from different product and functional groups including sales, marketing, product management, support, sales-enablement and others.
Symposium Event Execution
The WhiteboardSelling enablement team along with facilitators from the company's marketing team were assigned to lead groups of between 300 and 700 field personnel. In the space of four and a half hours, each sales or pre-sales support person either saw or presented their specific whiteboard up to seven times using a flipchart.
WhiteBoarding Accelerates Learning and Message ownership.
When surveyed after the event, participants identified a number of factors contributing to their overwhelming satisfaction with the enablement sessions.
- There were many hundreds of positive comments about Whiteboarding vs. traditional training methods.
- The sessions were interactive, with participants able to ask questions, add commentary and notes to the whiteboard, use their own experience and proof-points in telling their story as well as sharing their opinions—while learning from others.
- The training was 100% hands-on, facilitating active learning.
- The activities encouraged team members to get out of their comfort zone, to present in a new way that many did not think possible prior to the event.
Practice Makes Perfect
WhiteboardSelling's in person and virtual Symposium-based learning approach enables sales and support people to make the Whiteboard presentation to their customers the next day.
Like learning any new skill, Whiteboarding takes practice for the story to become ingrained. The company's sales management teams implemented post-kick-off reinforcement sessions to help sales people to reach a high standard in relating the Whiteboard messages and to develop whiteboard presentation and questioning skills.
This reinforcement creates message ownership and the consequent ability for a sales or support person to relate the company positioning and value proposition in just 5 minutes or 25 minutes, depending on time available —with or without a whiteboard, flipchart or other graphic medium.
Whiteboarding's Cognitive Style Creates a Lasting Impression
Whiteboarding is something you actively do with your body, voice and visual systems; its cognitive style engages different parts of the brain for both the presenter and the audience than occurs with PowerPoint, using a powerful combination of symbols and visual story-telling.
Of the dozens of presentations shown at the kick-off, few will be be remembered, however the Whiteboards left a lasting impression and the company has already reported that a number of very significant opportunities have been uncovered and at least one major deal has closed since the training event as a result of sales execs., using the whiteboard they learned in Las Vegas just a few weeks earlier.