1 min read

Whiteboard Selling Best Practices Group started on LinkedIn

By Mark Gibson on Mon, Oct 17, 2011

Whiteboard Selling Best Practices

If you are interested in Whiteboarding, you are invited to join a new LinkedIn group set up to promote and share Whiteboarding best practices, tips and to advance the art of whiteboarding in sales.

Whiteboard Selling Best Practices is an open group created to share and disseminate Whiteboarding tips, ideas and best practices.

WhiteboardSelling alumni and sales, marketing and enablement professionals with an interest in using whiteboarding techniques for in-person and remote whiteboarding are most welcome.

The goal of this group is advance the art of whiteboarding so as to improve engagement, discovery and differentiation through visual storytelling.

Click on the whiteboard to go to the group.
Topics: whiteboard selling visual storytelling whiteboarding
2 min read

Put the Clicker down and Step Away from the Powerpoint Projector

By Mark Gibson on Mon, Oct 03, 2011

Sounds like a line from a familiar TV show, except it would be "put the gun down and step away from the ....."

The best advice I can give to sales professionals whether starting out or with 20 years experience, is to put the clicker down and step away from the PowerPoint projector.

There may be a time toward the end of the sales cycle when the buyer actually wants to see a presentation of your proposed solution... then it's OK to present. If you want to use Powerpoint, then please use the resources for creating engaging PowerPoint presentations....otherwise I recommend that you learn to use a whiteboard to tell your story.


Topics: discovery sequence of events whiteboard selling whiteboarding
1 min read

Whiteboarding with IdeaPaint beats a Whiteboard hands down

By Mark Gibson on Thu, Sep 29, 2011

Two weeks ago at the HubSpot User Group Event #HUGS11, I saw a great idea in action that I thought could be of interest to readers of this blog....it's IdeaPaint.
I've been using the same whiteboard in my home office for the past 15 years and I was happy with it until the HubSpot event. Now having seen IdeaPaint in action, my whiteboard looks small and dull; flat surfaces in offices I visit loom as a potential surfaces for visual storytelling.

Click me
IdeaPaint is a urethane-based paint that comes in a 50 Sq. ft. kit, with roller and requires only one coat. It's the invention of two young Boston entrepreneurs who conceived the idea of creating paint that could cover any smooth surface and turn it into a surface for dry erase markers.

Think of any smooth surface, curved or flat; table top, bench, door; literally anything can become a whiteboard. Use IdeaPaint to help you make your work space work, whether you are in sales, marketing or a student interested in using a whiteboard to capture ideas and write down your thoughts.

IdeaPaint position their paint as more cost effective, easier to apply, longer-lasting and works well with all dry erase markers. In addition it provides:-
  • Larger dry-erase surface for less money
  • Goes on in one coat
  • Erases effortlessly
  • Warranty-guaranteed
  • The most environmentally friendly dry-erase product on the market
You can buy it at their online store, but before placing your order, check out the installation instructions, as it won't work well on walls that are not smooth and flat, i.e. with a rendered plaster surface, (like in my home office).

Topics: whiteboard selling visual storytelling whiteboarding
2 min read

Using a Whiteboard to Improve Discovery and Qualification

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Sep 27, 2011

The following article is based on a recent client conversation and could be of value to anyone interested in using a whiteboard to improve sales performance.

My client who asked to remain nameless, works in a technology company and has been using a whiteboard to tell her story for about 6 months; she is a fan of Paper-Show digital paper for remote whiteboarding as she does most of her selling virtually.

Using the WhiteboardSelling Methodology, we worked with her team and created a powerful whiteboard story and helped her team develop mastery over the material in a Whiteboardselling Symposium.

Recently they started using the whiteboard during the introductory call to capture the client issues and it has made a big difference in their ability to qualify.

In the past, they held a 15 minute telephone call to understand the client's issues and to qualify them better before inviting them to a whiteboarding session. If qualified, they would then schedule a whiteboard session using Gotomeeting and these whiteboard sessions were usually well received by clients.

I asked Shirley what she thought of their new process.
"In the introductory call we don't talk about our products or service at all, except for the big-picture to frame the conversation, this is pure discovery.

Our top reps have complete confidence in telling our story and pretty much own the message; this means they can focus on the interaction with the buyer, rather than worrying what to say next.

Since we started using the whiteboard to capture the initial conversation, discovery has improved dramatically and our pipeline quality has improved. Not all of our reps have adopted the whiteboard in discovery yet and are sticking to the telephone only approach for the first call."

Lessons Learned.

  1. Using a whiteboard at the outset of a sales call for discovery disarms the client and they are typically intrigued by the interaction.
  2. Capturing client issues on the whiteboard and asking questions to drill down on problems and goals helps the client to open up when they might otherwise remain silent.
  3. Using the whiteboard for the discovery conversation, before telling your story improves diagnosis and qualification and increases pipeline quality.
  4. Instead of jumping in to your story, which most sales reps love to do, you are capturing the buyers story and drawing them out on the issues that are important to them. Let me ask you a question...Which is more valuable at the outset of the buying cycle?
  5. A whiteboard is an excellent way of creating consensus around next steps and gaining commitment to taking action.
  6. If you have done a good job with the discovery session, it will usually run over the time allocated and the client will want a copy of the whiteboard.
Click me
Topics: diagnosis and qualification whiteboardselling whiteboarding
3 min read

Looking in the Wrong Place for Sales Performance?

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Sep 06, 2011

In the past year we have generated hundreds of inbound leads using our HubSpot system and I've noticed an interesting trend that I thought I would share. I have come to realize that many sales and marketing leaders are looking in the wrong place for sales performance.
Topics: inbound marketing sales and marketing alignment sales performance whiteboarding
4 min read

A Challenging Whiteboarding Sales Encounter

By Mark Gibson on Thu, Aug 11, 2011

I had a hilarious morning today, now that I look back on it - and it really didn’t phase me when it was happening, although it might have bothered me earlier in my sales career.
I thought I’d relate this story because I’m sure you’ve probably had something that has challenged you in your sales or marketing career, where compounding events have conspired to prevent you from being successful, but you came through under pressure and delivered your best anyway.


The photo is the view from my bed, taken last Friday in hospital recovering from surgery for a collapsed lung. I got home from hospital on Saturday and have been working from home in the mornings and resting in the afternoon; it’s relevant background for the story to know that I’m not 100%, while this story unfolds, (when you are a consultant working from home, you never stop working).  

About a month ago, I received an inbound WhiteboardSelling lead on my HubSpot Inbound Marketing  system from a marketing manager in an important "brand-name" technology company and after several email exchanges, we set this up this morning’s 9AM meeting, prior to my prospect going on long leave. 


Yesterday, I received a note in the mail from the power company that there was going to some urgent overhead cable work and there would be a power outage in our area from 7AM-3PM today and to plan accordingly. It was too late to change our meeting as the prospective customer lives in Europe so I decided to try one of the local hotels to see if I could use their foyer for a breakfast meeting and access their WiFi.  

I’m a member of a sports club associated with the hotel, so the Inn at Spanish Bay kindly accommodated my need for WiFi for my breakfast meeting and I set myself up on a sofa and coffee table in a quiet corner of the lobby, next to a fireplace and adjacent to the piano.  

I needed a table to rest my computer on, so that I could see the screen while I was doing the WhiteboardSelling discovery and demonstration session using a digital pen and paper called “ Paper-Show”. (Paper-Show is a fantastic tool that enables me to whiteboard very effectively over Webex, or any other Web conferencing tool; for $180, its one of the most valuable sales tools I’ve ever used).  

Since I was using the sumptuous hotel lobby for the meeting, I could hardly grumble or ask them to turn the Musak down which consisted of smooth swing jazz vocals from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, etc….but it was there and it was a distraction.  

Another problem was the cellphone reception; where I was in the hotel, I could only 1, 2 or no-bars and I dropped connection twice waiting for the call to start. Fortunately the phone worked perfectly for the whole call and my Bluetooth headset had enough charge in it to continue for the work….I had the phone charging overnight, but forgot to charge the headset.  

The presentation was going well until a couple of guys from hotel facilities came over with a 60” TV on a stand and put it next to my sofa, then stood around and started scratching their heads and then began climbing around me. I offered to move and had to get up while they moved the sofa and wired in the TV and this took longer than it should, but that’s probably my imagination.

Meanwhile I’m listening and whiteboarding, but I can't see the screen. The presentation was going well, great dialogue, learning lots about the client situation and it was running over the hour, which wasn’t a bad thing.

Next thing, this guy with a meter of some sort and a toolbox comes past and plonks himself down at the piano about 10 feet away. I continued with the presentation and looked up when I heard the piano going, - he was the piano tuner….and it was my lucky day.


I’m pleased to say that the Webex went well, we have a positive set of action items and despite the challenges, the outcome was positive. I’ll let you know who the prospect was if we get to do business and they allow me to mention their name.  


1. No matter how serious life appears to be, we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously…its never a bad time for a laugh.
2. If you're in sales or marketing and planning a kick-off training event next year, then you might want to think about DOING some WhiteboardSelling training.
My brother sent me this Youtube Redneck Duck Shooting video this morning and I laughed so much it hurt, so I took another pain-killer. (Warning contains mildly offensive lanuage)

Topics: whiteboardselling inbond lead hubspot inbound marketing whiteboarding
3 min read

Planning a Kick-off in 2012? - Let's DO Whiteboard Sales Training

By Mark Gibson on Wed, Aug 10, 2011

Sales Kick-Off Planning

Are you involved in the planning of a sales kick-off event to occur in January through March 2012?
Topics: sales kick-off whiteboarding whiteboard sales enablement whiteboardselling affiliate
5 min read

Time to Bring Outside Sales Inside - A Guide to Virtual Selling

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Jul 19, 2011

This article is relevant for B2B technology sales professionals, not just inside sales, as we are all becoming more virtual in our engagement with prospects and customers. 

Findings from the CSO Insights 2011 Telemarketing/Inside Sales Performance Optimization survey set the stage for our conversation. The big Aha in the 2011 survey is that nearly 50% of inside sales are selling independent of field sales.

Inside Sales - No Longer a Junior Partner

The perception of inside sales as the junior partner, being confined to lead-gen, appointment setting and qualifying is changing, as inside sales increasingly handle the complete sales cycle and create trusted adviser relationships with clients. Soon this will become the dominant mode of selling.

Inside Sales Effectiveness Focus in 2011

Inside Sales Priorities

Once again the top priorities for sales leaders in the CSO Insights survey are to align sales and marketing and to increase lead generation.

These two objectives are inextricably linked, only in my view, sales leaders have them in the wrong order and I propose the following priorities.

1. Sales and Marketing Alignment

  1. As a first step, we need to align sales and marketing messaging around product usage and value creation; features and benefits selling is dead and most marketing teams have work to do to translate features and benefits ("product-speak") into something the sales team can actually use to engage prospects.
  2. Aligning sales and marketing also means agreeing on the definition of what makes a sales-ready-lead. Innovative companies like HubSpot have established service level agreements between marketing and sales and both groups are tightly aligned in their objectives.

2. Enhancing Lead Generation

Once you’ve established a value proposition that is built on product usage and value creation, you have something that both sales and marketing can use. Creating content that prospects value attracts interested visitors to your Website; engages and converts them into leads using an Inbound Marketing process.
David Baga  
I spoke to David Baga, VP Sales at hot SFO-based RocketLawyer last week about his challenges in running a rapidly growing inside sales team. (RocketLawyer is a fast growing startup designed to make legal services easy and affordable for individuals and SMBs)

"The #1 challenge is connect rate....getting the prospect on the phone is becoming increasingly difficult. Cold calling is virtually impossible in today’s environment and would be a crude waste of time and money compared to an inbound marketing engine.”


Inbound Lead Generation Requires a Technology Foundation

Baga continued, “We need interested prospects to raise their hand and Inbound Marketing platforms like Marketo and HubSpot make this possible and the performance predictable.

Our lead generation is dependent on an integrated technology fabric consisting of:-
•    Inbound Marketing Automation platform (Marketo)
•    CRM systems (Salesforce.com)
•    Cloud-based call center technology with predictive dialers, ACD (auto-dialers), IVR (Interactive voice response) (Five 9’s)
Putting this stuff together and delivering the right content at the right time is hard to do; we’ve been at it 9 months now and are just beginning to realize the benefits of our efforts”

3. Revising Sales Team Structure.

There is a perception in sales that inside sales earning potential is limited. This is no longer the case and it is possible to achieve income parity with outside sales reps in many inside sales positions.

“We have chosen to centralize our sales team so that we can provide them with technology, education, collaborative support and sales management needed for high productivity. The productivity gains alone make it advantageous over individuals working out of a home office”, added Baga

Salesforce.com, like RocketLawyer and HubSpot have created very successful, centralized inside sales teams. Salesforce.com has created various roles and specializations for their inside sales team to provide a career path for advancement and to lower customer acquisition cost.

A typical Inbound Sales team structure is;
•    Lead Development – work inbound leads, responsible for lead qualification, pass lead on.
•    Small Business Representatives - quota carrying, responsible for a territory
•    Account Executives - responsible for major accounts; travel from time-time to meet customers

4. Revising Sales Process

BANT - Discovery and Qualification, the Achilles heel of selling.

If salespeople spent less time talking about their products and more time listening to the buyer's answers of their insightful questions, they would improve their diagnosis of the client condition.

Without a strong qualification process like BANT, underpinned by skilled diagnosis and discovery, pipeline reviews and forecasting are a magical and mystical event.

Using a whiteboard to Create Buyer Vision

On the minus side, inside selling means salespeople must work harder to develop rapport because the visual dimension is missing in the communication feedback loop.

The good news is that there are new tools that can really help in creating a dialogue and engaging the buyer around their issues. My WhiteboardSelling customers are spread across the World and 95% of my sales calls are virtual. I prefer to sell this way now.

Using the Paper-Show digital whiteboard and GotoMeeting or Webex videoconferencing service enables me to engage buyers in a whiteboard discovery session and present our approach to the prospect’s sales and marketing challenges using a whiteboard and to gain excellent feedback at every transition in the process.

I follow up the meeting with a qualification confirmation letter with the whiteboard from our session embedded as a .jpeg in the letter. This has a huge impact on forecasting accuracy as the qualification confirmation process eliminates non-buyers at the outset and makes it much easier for your mentor or internal champion to build and position your case against competing projects.

5. Facilitating a Buying Process.

Shift in Power in the Buy-Sell Equation.

The relationship with buyer has shifted from managing the sales process to facilitating a buying process…prospects buy when they are ready to buy.

“We spend a lot of time and effort with our middle funnel process generating relevant information that maps to buying needs/process once the visitor has converted into a lead by completing a form.   
With the buyer in control, lead nurturing is essential to manage and establish a trusted relationship and stay top of mind until the buyer is ready and to measure online behavior and interaction. Leads are scored based on activity and routed to sales at the right time.” said Baga.

Take Aways:

1. Sales and Marketing alignment is step 1 on the journey to improved sales performance for Inside sales.
2. Inbound Marketing underpinned by a tightly integrated technology fabric is no longer an option – it's essential to Inside Sales Success.
3. Lead nurturing is the way to stay top of mind and build a relationship with prospective customers until they are ready to buy.
4. Skilled whiteboarding can restore the communication imbalance in a virtual environment.
5. You don’t have to sweat closing deals if you have done your job in discovery and qualification.

Click me  
Topics: inbound marketing CSO Insights value proposition inside sales whiteboarding
3 min read

Visual Storytelling and Presentations that Sell

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Jul 12, 2011

Selling with Pictures and Emotion

What makes a great sales presentation and what's the difference between a good presenter and poor presenter?
Lets get crystal clear about the purpose of a sales presentation.

Here's my new definitiion, "the purpose of a sales presentation is to have the audience interact with both the presenter and the material to engage, transform and activate the audience to create change."

The best presenters successfully weave a story around the buyer's current condition... "what-is"; they engage emotions and lead the buyer to understand "what-could-be" as a result of using your products/services and conclude with a call to action or logical next steps.

Great presenters make the buyer the center of the story. Great presentations are delivered in a true dialogue with the audience....images and props serve as visual aids - where appropriate.  It's not about Powerpoint slideshow technique or bullets.

Steve Jobs' 2007 iPhone announcement is continually referenced as an exemplar presentation. Steve uses emotion, humor and props as well as dramatic music.... his images are simple and powerful and add clarity and weight to the point he is making. His timing is perfect and he knows the material and this comes from rehearsing the presentation more than 20 times.

The Hero's Journey Story Structure

In the development phase of a whiteboard story or visual storytelling structure we loosely follow the Hero's Journey structure to create contrast between "what is" and "what could be" and engages the buyer in conversation around the challenges of the "now".

The Hero's Journey from Nancy Duarte's Resonate

Topics: effective presentations visual storytelling whiteboarding
3 min read

Using a Whiteboard to get your Killer Product Across the Chasm

By Mark Gibson on Wed, Jun 22, 2011

Early adopters of new technology are prepared to accept more risk when buying technology than the majority of buyers.

Topics: killer products whiteboarding lean startups