According to Wikipedia, whiteboarding is “the placement of shared files on an on-screen shared notebook or whiteboard”. In other words, it’s a collaborative tool to facilitate discussions by writing and sketching on a shared space resembling a whiteboard. That’s what makes it one of the best instruments that sales professionals can use to increase their effectiveness and success rate.
Whiteboards are so powerful for many reasons, which are all rooted into the way our brain functions:
- The use of pictures and graphics. Visuals make the content more appealing, and easier to absorb and retain.
- The progressive disclosure of content appeals to people’s curiosity, and makes a lasting impression. For this reason white boards are superior to PowerPoint presentations, which –on the contrary- lower levels of listener engagement and focus.
- The element of novelty. At the moment, few sales professionals use white boards in their business deals, making this a powerful means of communication as it piques listeners’ curiosity: if you are different, you are more memorable.
- The interactive nature of white boards. Stimulate people’s attention by asking for their active contribution while you are creating the white board; collaborative work is always easier to remember, and more deeply engaging and meaningful for all participants.
So, what should you write on your whiteboard to make sure that the content is as interesting as the means of communicating it?
Here are 4 useful tips on how you could create a highly engaging whiteboard during your first meeting with your prospect.
- Thoroughly study your client’s industry, paying close attention to the specific challenges and barriers their field is undergoing at the moment. Good research will credential you as someone who knows the industry, creating trust.
- Draw up industry drivers and impact on your whiteboard. These are the factors in your customer’s business that are out of their control – and as such produce strong feelings of risk and fear. Since fear is one of the most powerful emotions, this part of the process will create high levels of engagement.
- Do not dwell on fear for too long, or you will risk to alienate your listeners. Personalize the whiteboard by drawing up the company’s objectives: what they want to gain from the installation, what their roadmap is. You will engage your listeners and create positive expectations and feelings.
- Dissect the business objectives by targeting the right people with the right questions.
- Ask the IT department what they are looking for in a new system: this relates to needed features and technical requirements.
- Approach the operational management and ask them how they want to implement the changes; this question refers to the business processes required, and the ways in which the management plans to react.
- Address the executives by asking them why they want to change their processes. This is a high-engagement question, which is sure to solicit strong reactions, and make the meeting meaningful and memorable.
White boards can be very effective; make sure you maintain your listeners’ attention by keeping healthy levels of interaction, and focusing your meeting on their specific experience. Elicit surprise, fear and joy and use these emotions to make your meeting different and memorable.
Based on a presentation by Mark Stuyt at conneXion 2015.