Enableocity sales enablement-as-a-service Blog



3 min read

Whiteboard Selling - Book Review

By Mark Gibson on Mon, Aug 05, 2013

I had the privilege of working closely with author Corey Sommers as a consultant for two years until Whiteboard Selling was sold to Corporate Visions in late 2012. This review of the book Whiteboard Selling - Empowering Sales through Visuals, by Corey Sommers and David Jenkins is an insider’s perspective.  

I Wish I Had This Book 2 Years Earlier

I wish I had this book when I started working with WhiteboardSelling in December 2010, as it would have accelerated my learning curve. 

I learned the craft and art of whiteboarding by observation, sitting with Corey Sommers as he went through each aspect of the Whiteboard Selling process, including:
  • Kicking off the session with the client, 
  • Conducting the brainstorming message workshop, 
  • Coming up with the initial visual concepts, 
  • Scripting out the whiteboard story, 
  • Getting the whiteboard approved, and 
  • Training the sales teams to do the whiteboard.
Thanks to Corey and Dave, this process is now in the public domain and open to anyone to use.

The book is well-written and well worth the meager investment for anyone interested in whiteboarding.

Here's why you should buy it. 

Get Clear About Your Value Proposition

In the two years with Whiteboard Selling, the typical client-messaging baseline for developing the whiteboard was 5/10 for clarity.

Messaging existed in the form of PowerPoint, .pdf’s and ideas in various contributor's heads. The process of defining the whiteboard story is clearly outlined in the book and helps the whiteboard author to clarify the buyer’s issues and to focus conversation on relevant product or service capabilities using the right whiteboard structure for the buyers maturity in their buying process.... this is important!
There is a difference between a "Why Change" whiteboard story for a first call on a prospective customer and a "Why Me" whiteboard story at a closing meeting on a prospective new customer.

The differences are spelled out in the book and will help salespeople go from a 5/10 for clarity to a 9 or a 10 by the time they complete the whiteboard development process.

Whiteboard styles and design templates are included for each stage in the buying process.... these are invaluable for rookie whiteboarders.

Get Salespeople to do Product Training with a Whiteboard

Despite best efforts of product managers in sales kick-off training sessions, very little is retained from a typical PowerPoint based product training session. The only thing memorable most salespeople bring home from a typical sales kickoff event is hangover.

Magic happens when you engage salespeople to do the product training using a whiteboard. The process of iterative role-playing - of presenting and watching and listening to the whiteboard development repeatedly, engages the whole brain and all of the senses.

I observed thousands of salespeople walk into training rooms having never seen the whiteboard story and doubting their ability to whiteboard. The same salespeople left four hours later capable of delivering the whiteboard the next day - they owned the message in just four hours.


  • This book outlines the path to creating a sound whiteboard story that can be used to get everyone in your sales and channels team on message and to make it stick.
  • Unless you happen to be a visual and cognitive genius capable of inventing images and story on the fly, don't expect some magical force to guide your pen. 
  • You'll never get up to the whiteboard and create something meaningful if it does not already exist in your mind.
  • WhiteboardSelling methodology and process IP are now owned by Corporate Visions after they acquired the company in August 2012.
  • David Jenkins and Corey Sommers have both moved on, however they have left an indelible entry in the canon of selling literature and their book Whiteboard Selling is highly recommended. You can order it here.


Topics: whiteboardselling visual storytelling whiteboarding
3 min read

Improve Sales Kickoff ROI - add Visual Storytelling Training

By Mark Gibson on Thu, Aug 16, 2012

Planning Kick-off Outcomes

Billions of dollars are spent in the technology business every year to bring sales and support people together for  sales kick-off events to start the new sales year. 
These events are a celebration of the achievements of the prior year and offer a chance to; recognize individual performers, refresh on corporate strategy, a product update, and often a product training session.

Apart from a good time and hangover to remember, salespeople typically leave the kick-off event with little more than they came with. Despite best intentions of organizers, this is sadly the case and sales and marketing leadership need to take a more qualitative approach to planning kick-off outcomes. 

Why Bother with a Kick-off?

This is a good question and one that event planners and sales leaders are finding increasingly difficult to answer. Cisco has saved a small fortune since they scrapped their nation-wide kick-offs, which are now held virtually in regional offices. A day of speeches and death by executive PowerPoint presentations over a videoconference to remember - I'm told (not).

Given the huge investment in time and money to stage a kick-off and the risks involved, salespeople should take something home of value that they can use as soon as they return to work, other than the memory of a good time.

Don't Bother with Traditional Product Training 

Product training on a newly announced product, a recently acquired companies product, or a refresher on existing product is often a driver for bringing sales team's together for an event and part of the business case to fund kick-off events. 

The trouble with traditional product training, despite best efforts of the product
management/marketing team is that salespeople will not begin to sell the new product in the volumes the company would like until at least 12 months after introduction - on average.

To get true product ramp time, we need to add the time it takes for the core group to get comfortable selling the new product (6 months), to the time it takes for the sales cycle, from lead to close and let's use 6 months as an average cycle time in our example. 

Let's assume that the sales team has an inbound lead conversion system that works and a supply of sales-ready leads are available from the day they are trained in selling the new product. Using a  traditional product marketing route it will take about a year to get the core group to sell-though... so at the next kick-off, the product management team will finally start seeing the results they sought in the prior years kick-off. 

I looked for a study on ramp-times for B2B software products after introduction and the closest thing I could find was this chart from CSO Insights 2012 Sales Performance Optimization survey of more than 1500 B2B companies. 

Visual Storytelling & Role-playing 

Question: What if you could cut 90-120 days from the new product ramp time? - what would that do for your revenue and profit?
Question: What if you could embed a process into new hire training and use it at your next kick-off to get everyone trained and capable of selling the product, the day after training?

In these enablement sessions, salespeople engage in intense 1:1 role-playing sessions using visual storytelling and a visual confection that is fully scripted and peppered with best practices discovery questions, common objections and counters to those objections.

At the end of the session, salespeople will have seen or presented the visual story up to 9 times and they know the story and can engage customers the next day. We have received numerous emails with feedback from successful salespeople who have used the visual confection in the weeks following the training to identify and close multi-million dollar deals.

Sales Management and Coaching Follow-up

As with any behavior change initiative, disciplined practice, coaching and feedback from sales managers in the weeks and first few months after a visual storytelling event are key to getting ROI and cutting the ramp time for sell-through of new products.

Without coaching and regular practice/use of the visual confection and script, salespeople may revert to their comfort-zone and to leaning on PowerPoint to tell their story. We recommend creating an expectation in the sales team that the Visual storytelling approach is here to stay and not an option and they will be required to pass a certification role-play in front of their managers.

Boring PowerPoint Sucks - learn Visual Storytelling
Topics: sales kick-off whiteboardselling whiteboarding
2 min read

Visual Storytelling, PowerPoint and Memory

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Feb 07, 2012

Visual Storytelling is the future of presenting

Users of PowerPoint like it because it's easy to create and modify presentations and that's the good news. The bad news is when you are on the other side of the presentation - in the audience as a salesperson at a kick-off, or as a prospective customer in a sales or marketing presentation or in a business setting.
Topics: whiteboard enablement whiteboardselling visual storytelling
4 min read

Lessons Learned from a Month on the Road with WhiteboardSelling

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Dec 27, 2011

In November and December this year as a certified affiliate of WhiteboardSelling, I completed six WhiteboardSelling Enablement Symposia on three continents. I wanted to share thoughts and the lessons learned from this immersion in different cultures and the general applicability of the WhiteboardSelling development philosophy and Enablement methods.
I ran WhiteboardSelling Enablement events in Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, Cologne in Germany and here in Silicon Valley CA. The smallest group was about 25 and the largest was about 90 people.

In every case, the WhiteboardSelling Enablement method was very well received and sales and support people had learned and could tell their story after this half day session.

To illustrate how well this enablement method works, a new hire Pitney Bowes product manager who participated the WhiteboardSelling Symposium in Melbourne, gave a great Whiteboard demonstration to lead off the first session the very next day in Sydney. Our executive sponsors were well pleased with the training outcomes in every case.

Whiteboard Selling Insights

1. No Whiteboard survives contact with the field 

No matter how smart the development team is that created the whiteboard story, there is always a new perspective, relevant insight or an anecdote from the sales team that we learn at the Symposium that will enrich the whiteboard story.
For this reason we like to hold a feedback session immediately following the enablement symposium to capture suggestions to improve the whiteboard. We have added an additional echo-back into our Admarco best-practices whiteboard development process to incorporate changes.


2. No Whiteboard Survives contact with the customer

In the same way that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no Whiteboard story survives contact with the customer and salespeople need to know the whiteboard so they can give it in any order and develop the customer conversation.

A comment we ofter hear during the symposium is that the Whiteboard script is too prescriptive. We want participants to learn how to draw the whiteboard and tell their story and recommend the following;-
  • to follow the script initially, 
  • to get to know the script (we take a lot of time to figure out the best way to capture value creation), 
  • then to forget the script once they have internalized it and become competent in telling the story.
The WhiteboardSelling Symposium uses active learning methods in an environment that is an artificial, low threat way of getting salespeople out of their comfort zone to learn and practice telling their story. 

In real life the customer is going to say and do things that are unexpected and for this reason we suggest that salespeople practice the whiteboard and that their sales managers have them present on a weekly basis for the month following the Symposium to master the whiteboard.


3. You don't have to start at the start and you don't have to finish the Whiteboard

PowerPoint is a linear method of presenting that was designed to make it easy for the presenter to create and give presentations. Most PowerPoint sales presentations are by their nature fixed in structure and focused on the supplier and their products. The WhiteboardSelling Enablement method is a rapid way to capture and enable salespeople to know and tell their story. 

In every Symposium we see individuals exercising creativity in telling their story...there is only one story, but you can tell it a thousand different ways.
  • We coach salespeople to follow the buyer in conversation and let the whiteboard story unfold naturally from that dialog.
  • Don't sweat if you don't finish, you may only cover half of your story in the time allotted and still achieve your meeting goal. 
  • Once you know the Whiteboard, you may not even have to do a whiteboard at all....just engage the buyer in conversation and stay in the moment. 

4. Group participants by local language in the Symposium 

When faced with an International multi-lingual audience in the training environment, we recommend grouping tables of 6 by native language.

The WhiteboardSelling Enablement Symposium may push individuals beyond their comfort-zone into the panic zone in the first round of presentations and having them present in their native language will reduce the stress of having to translate the whiteboard while trying to learn it.

5. Get the red stuff out and on the board 

I have found whiteboarding to be a very natural way of engaging buyers. Compared to PowerPoint there is a much more natural flow in the conversation. The use of color plays an important part of the whiteboard development and WhiteboardSelling uses the following convention;
Black    = Current state - the "as is"
Red      = Challenges and problems with the current situation
Green   = Future state - "as it could be"
Blue      = Proof points, next steps.

Salespeople should encourage buyers to talk about their challenges once rapport and trust are established and capture those challenges in red on the whiteboard.

Getting the problems out and in red on the whiteboard enables the conversation to focus on the issues that are important to the buyer and to have your capabilities unfold naturally in conversation.

6. What if it's not Going Well 

We have all been in situations where for some reason the meeting is not going well and the buyer is not engaging in the conversation. I often get asked what to do in this situation. My advice is to bail-out.

You could ask the buyer, "I get the feeling that now is not a good time for this conversation.....would you prefer that we reconvened at another time or with another group?". It may save you and the buyer time and if the buyer really is interested, they may re-engage.

Topics: whiteboard enablement whiteboardselling
2 min read

Top 5 Sales and Marketing Performance Improvement Blogs for 2011

By Mark Gibson on Fri, Dec 23, 2011

These are my top 5 sales and marketing performance blogs from 2011 in order of popularity. I also want to extend holiday greetings to all of my connections and friends in the industry on the last working day before Christmas.

Relocating back to California has been a great move for me and my family and we look forward to a promising 2012.

A Guide to Engaging Sales Presentations - Do not use PowerPoint

Thoughts on Powerpoint usage in sales presentations, following Edward Tufte's 1 day course, "Presenting Data and Information" in Los Angeles on 9 Feb.

Avoid these 5 Pitfalls for effective Whiteboard Sales Presentations

In making great whiteboard presentations, there a few things to avoid. Get them right and you will be very successful.

Selling from Home - Here's an Updated Sales Communications Setup 

If you are in sales or consulting, live in the USA or Canada and work from home, the following advice on home telecommunications could worth a read.

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

The Internet is quickly eliminating the need for in-person selling in favor of virtual or inside sales. A 5-step guide to inside sales performance.

Product Training Doesn't Work- Get Sales to DO Product Training

Article discussing the old way of product training vs the new way of product training. The new way gets sales people to DO the product training. 
Topics: sales presentations whiteboardselling sales and marketing
3 min read

Three Tips to Overcome the Channel Sales Enablement Blues

By Mark Gibson on Sun, Oct 23, 2011

Channel Sales Enablement

Channel sales enablement is an ongoing process of messaging, training, marketing, communicating, coaching and leading by example and when implemented correctly helps reseller sales teams to succeed in selling your products and services.

Success starts with a crisp and clear value proposition, essentially a pact between you and the buyer: i. How is it exactly that you create value for your prospective buyers, ii. What can the buyer reasonably expect from using your products or services?

I recall the early days in the channel at MicroStrategy, prior to the release of MicroStrategy7 and our first proper API; when not only our message was vague, but our code-base was vaguer; - a huge Visual Basic executable that was a bear for partners to interface their applications. We had a commissioned sales team pounding the streets signing up anyone who would meet with us and 90% of the partners we signed didn't open the box....sound familiar?

Lots of activity, but no pull through - you may have the channel sales enablement blues.

When You Are Truly Ready, The Channel Will Show Up

In retrospect, I believe the channel will show up when your product is mature enough and your company is ready to support a channel, and here are some key indicators if your company is ready or not:
  • The entire company from the HR Department to the mail room is fully on board with your direct sales approach.
  • Your sales team only has time to handle inbound leads and has no time to think about finding their own outbound leads.
  • You are producing a complete product that your customers love. Essentially, your conception of your value proposition is the same as your consumers, and you are meeting this expectation.
If you are satisfying these criteria, yet continue to struggle with channel revenue growth, then you might find the following case study of one of Avnet's channel enablement initiatives interest.

Avnet Case Study

Avnet created WhiteboardSelling stories for their 3 top selling products (independent of the vendors) and trained 3,000+ partners globally to tell the story.

Avnet implemented WhiteboardSelling, an interactive sales enablement solution that gives salespeople the ability to convey their organization’s message and value proposition visually – on a whiteboard or any other writing surface – in a compelling, confident and consistent fashion.

Avnet worked hand-in-hand with WhiteboardSelling to launch the Pro Series Whiteboard Symposium, a program aimed at offering training and development to VAR partners in 10 countries worldwide.

Avnet and WhiteboardSelling created custom, interactive whiteboards for three Avnet product lines, including NetApp and Oracle, which they used to train sales professionals at their VAR partners. Based on feedback from the participating sales professionals, the whiteboarding sessions helped them to better position and differentiate the products in the market.

The free, half-day training sessions were offered in local languages to sales teams around the world. Read the whole case study


  1. Triage support for existing partners and define, focus, attract and recruit "Ideal Partners", who may be non-traditional software resellers if they are SaaS sales channels.
  2. Implement an Inbound Marketing system and methodology to increase lead quality and quantity and co-market and share leads with partners,
  3. Create effective messaging and train your partners to use it. I have been selling for nearly 30 years and have seen many sales training and enablement efforts fail to deliver sustainable results. Whiteboard visual storytelling that captures the core value from using the products and engages buyers in dialogue around their issues produces culture change and is highly recommended for channel sales enablement.
  Click me
Topics: channel sales whiteboardselling enablement Avnet
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

Waterboarding Clients with PowerPoint? Try Whiteboarding Your Story

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Aug 30, 2011

I don't condone torture, nor do I consider Waterboarding an acceptable treatment for detainees of any race or religion.

If you want to read more about Waterboarding, please follow this link, or if you feel strongly about the ill-treatment of foreign prisoners in US custody click on this link, as the rest of this story is about the misuse of PowerPoint by sales, marketing and technical people in front of innocent audiences.

Having to sit through bad PowerPoint presentations can seem like a mild form of torture for the audience, inflicted usually by a sales or marketing person under the guise of presenting a solution or informing the prospective client in more detail, the worth of your offerings.

I was at the recent Marketing conference in San Francisco, attended by high caliber marketing professionals and saw a lot of bad PowerPoint presentations delivered by marketing executives. Presumably the excuse for the poor presentation being, I didn't have time to create a stunning presentation for this one-off industry event, so I created this one on the plane on the way over, anyway they were peers not prospects in the audience. What constitutes a bad PowerPoint presentation?….many factors, I like Seth Godin's take on really bad PowerPoint, but let's agree that you know you are in one when it's happening.

PowerPoint is a great presenters tool, but terrible for the audience unless handled with great care, preparation and rehearsal, yet we still do PowerPoint to our peers and ourselves, laboring lengthy, bullet-laden, text heavy and product-centric rants that fast become boring and invoke deep smart phone trances.

What’s wrong with a Product Presentation?

Product presentations have been carried forward as part of a marketing and sales culture that pre-dates the Internet.  Up until about 15 years ago, buyers would invite sales people in to hear about capabilities of new products and technologies, because they had problems to solve and the salesperson, brochures and slide presentations were the medium for the message.

Today the concept of the product presentation as part of the sales process is obsolete, yet it’s alive and thriving in its post-Internet form in millions of PowerPoint presentations. Buyers no longer need or want product presentations because they can find out all they need to know about your product and how it's rated with couple of mouse clicks.
The reality is that nobody cares about your products or services - except you, and maybe your colleagues. People really care about getting their needs met, solving their business problems and achieving their goals.

The Purpose of a Sales Presentation

What are you trying to achieve with your presentation?
If you are in sales, I'll give you my definition. "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."

Why Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling is as old as our civilization and cave-man drawings are our link with pre-history. Simple images, coupled with a story that engages the buyer in conversation and creates a fabric of understanding are an order of magnitude more effective than the average PowerPoint product presentation.

Using Whiteboarding for Discovery and Storytelling

The best presentations are conversations and the best way to start a conversation is in a discussion around issues affecting the buyer.  Using a whiteboard is a wonderful way to capture the elements of that conversation, to document the trends and issues affecting the buyer and capture the challenges facing the buyer in achieving their goals. A whiteboard is also an excellent tool for opening a discussion with an opinion about the buyer condition to provoke a response and engagement.
Click me
Having established the buyer condition and the need for your product or service you can tell your story using simple images on the whiteboard, adding relevant facts, proof points and all the while confirming with the buyer that your story is relevant and your capabilities are of value. If during the discovery process you learn that the buyer does not have a condition that you can help solve, then it will be a short meeting and you won't deliver your story.

Which meeting would you prefer to be in as a buyer? The PowerPoint whipping or the whiteboard conversation?
Topics: value proposition whiteboardselling powerpoint
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
6 min read

Avoid these 5 Pitfalls for Effective Whiteboard Sales Presentations

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Aug 02, 2011

Give any 2 year old a set of whiteboard markers and a whiteboard and you have a budding artist and whiteboarding fan. Give a pre-sales engineer the same opportunity in front of a customer and a similar thing happens. There is no fear.

What happens when you give a salesperson the same opportunity?

Typically nothing - unless salespeople have been trained and are practiced in delivering the whiteboard....they will be more comfortable with PowerPoint and will default to this method of presentation...why? - because regardless of how bad the PowerPoint is, they can let the slides do the talking.

This article is not about PowerPoint, but if you would like, here is a link to access some best practices PowerPoint resources.

This article is prompted by a comment made on a blog by David Baga, VP Sales at RocketLawyer.com.

"In my last firm we had to learn a number of whiteboards. But the way they were going about it was totally wrong. We were trained to stand and deliver the whiteboard in a virtual replacement of the Powerpoint. There was no interactivity and when we were done drawing out the whiteboard and reciting the script we asked questions."

I'm keen to set some ground-rules for effective visual storytelling that sellers and marketers can use for better outcomes. As a primer for this conversation, I recommend you view the Visual Storytelling Webinar

Whiteboard Mistakes that Will Hurt You

1. Reproducing a PowerPoint Presentation rote on a whiteboard.

Bad Whiteboard presentations are just as bad as bad PowerPoint presentations. A lot of B2B companies I have worked with over the past 7 years as a consultant are strongly product focused. You know you're in for a PowerPoint product whipping when the first few slides follow this traditional form.
Slide 1. Opening Slide - Welcome
Slide 2. Agenda
Slide 3. About Us
Slide 4. Key Customers
Slide 5. Partners
Slide 6. Awards
Slide 7. Solution/Product Overview
I dont care how sexy the graphics are...so far its all about you. At this point I haven't been engaged, except maybe for the salesperson asking my goals for the presentation....I'm already bored, I could have gotten all of this stuff off the Web and I don't have time to sit through a product rant.

Why then would you want to reproduce this structure in a whiteboard? The purpose of a whiteboard is to engage the buyer in conversation and discover their issues that are relevant, it's not a one-way product pitch.

I also dislike the word pitch as it harks back to the era of carnival touts. If the buyer has issues that your product or service will solve, then these will surface during the whiteboard discussion and you will have the opportunity to introduce how your products could be used to solve the problem in context.

Tip: Start the whiteboard session around your buyer, not you or your products. Use a brief positioning statement to establish your credibility and immediately engage the buyer in conversation.

2. Not having a story

It's OK for a pre-sales engineer to get up and draw out a few concepts on a whiteboard, but many salespeople will be reluctant to get up and whiteboard without a story.
  • Whiteboarding is a skill that needs to be practiced....just writing on the whiteboard and speaking at the same time takes practice. Drawing and layout takes practice. Learning the script takes practice
  • A whiteboard consists of a visual confection and a narrative and it takes process and intellectual effort to capture the essence of your value proposition and create a story around likely buyer issues.
  • We use a variation of the Hero's Journey to explore the buyer's current state, or "what is" and the challenges presented through not taking action. We introduce the future state, "what could be" around how others use our products, with proof-points and a call to action for the buyer to change.
  • Whiteboard presenters need to learn the script, know the script, then forget the script, once they have it under their skin.
  • Knowing both the story and the whiteboard enables salespeople to focus 100% on the buyer instead of worrying about what to say and what goes where on the whiteboard and in what color.

3. Talking too much - not asking enough questions

Running off at the mouth is a problem for novice whiteboard presenters as well as salespeople in general. We have learned the story and can't wait to tell it.

The way we develop a whiteboard is in a modular fashion with a clump of text and images to relate a concept that we call a module.

RULE 1: Whiteboarding is a totally interactive interchange with the buyer and if you are not asking discovery questions when you transition from one module to another, you are missing a major opportunity...similarly asking the buyer for feedback when you have presented a module will help you qualify interest.

Rule 2: If you become aware that you are doing a lot of talking, ask a question.

Tip: When you are whiteboarding you are doing discovery at every step in the process. If you are introducing an important concept or transitioning to a new module, get objective information by asking the following questions, which consultants call the "E's and the I's".
i. How Important is .......to you and your business. How do you do it today?
ii. Assuming the buyer responds that it is important, follow-up with, On a scale of 1-10, 1 being terrible, 10 couldn't be better, how Effective would you say you are at .......?
iii. Rarely will the buyer answer a 9 or 10 to this question, which provides a golden opportunity to ask "What you like to be", "How much is it costing you to live with a 6?", etc.

4. Finding out what the likely outcome of a successful whiteboard will be, prior to starting.

This is so obvious, yet so few sales people ask this question. A buyer's typical response to this question is, "I'll have to discuss it with my boss, team, etc".

Unless you like giving multiple presentations, a good response from the salesperson to this answer is "I know you're really busy and so am I, so does it make sense that we ask your boss/other stakeholders to join our presentation so that we can decide if it makes sense to work together?

5. Not understanding their objectives and checking how much time you have.

Getting the buyers objectives onto the Whiteboard at the outset is a best practice and allows you to figure out what points to emphasize, also to tell the buyer what you are not going to cover.

It also allows you to go back over their objectives at the end of the presentation and place a check mark alongside the ones you achieved and an opportunity to discus what they did not achieve.

Rule: I ask this question at the outset of every call. "you've had some time to think about our meeting today and I wonder if you could share with me any top of mind thoughts and what you would like to achieve from today's session."  follow this up with, "We are scheduled for one hour, are we still OK for this?"

When we know the Whiteboard visual story and the script, we can
start the whiteboard anywhere, focus where the buyer is interested and we don't have to finish it....unlike PowerPoint which follows a sequential structure.

Proof Point: I had a critical 30 minute Whiteboarding demo. session set up with a SVP of a major information services company and in anticipation a problem, I invested my time in advance of the meeting to create a draft whiteboard of the buyers situation and potential story.

It so happened that we couldn't get the video conference working and with 10 minutes left, I created a .pdf of the Paper-Show whiteboard and emailed it to the buyer. He popped open the whiteboard .pdf and I was able to take him through the structure and flow of the story in a couple of minutes....which led to another meeting and we are in discussion on doing business together.

Rule: If you are presenting a whiteboard over the Internet and it's a super important meeting, use a visual confection. A completed Whiteboard is a visual confection and contains a superset of information; it's a  powerful visual and possible to explain it and completely comprehend it in a matter of minutes.

 Boring PowerPoint Sucks - learn Visual Storytelling

Topics: value proposition whiteboardselling powerpoint