If you are a regular reader of the blog, or my newsletter, you know I am a big fan of Visual Selling and of closing the laptop during a sales call. So far, I’ve had over 6,000 Sales Engineers go through my whiteboard training and I often start with a quick go-up-to-the-board and draw-out-pros-and-cons exercise. One of the top items we discuss is that of credibility.
Why is using a WB related to credibility? It’s because it’s YOUR WHITEBOARD (actually it’s a jointly owned WB if you do it right – but that’s another story). Think about it. The idea goes from your brain straight to your pen and onto the board. It’s not a PowerPoint that some marketing dweeb has created that you are reusing. The degree of personalization and therefore credibility is immense. Just the fact that you can draw out the solution rather than depend on PPT gives you the aura of being a subject matter expert. Since Credibility is one vital factor in building Trust and becoming the Trusted Advisor SalesEngineer, it is an important skill to learn.
Having bad handwriting, no apparent artistic ability, no idea how to get started, or even claiming that you cannot possibly explain something so complicated as your solution on a little sheet of paper (or even an iPad screen) are NOT excuses to put down the pen and give up. My elementary school teacher would be stunned that I make a living teaching people how to draw. I could probably justify my claim that I had the worst handwriting and the least art talent in my class – yet for over 25 years in the presales business, I have readily picked up a pen and drawn “stuff”! When I joined Oracle, as a $80m company, you were required to sketch out the Oracle database architecture on a blackboard or via transparencies. If you couldn’t draw the infrastructure and illustrate it – you couldn’t do your job.
So how do you start? Remember that the best whiteboard of all is one that you plan beforehand, rather than create ad-hoc. You’d never give a demo or a presentation without running through it first, would you? Pick just a couple of PPT slides, a question you are always asked, or even a concept your audience struggles with – and create a 5-8 minute board. Focus more on imagery and icons and less on words – words kill whiteboard time. Have some fun.
(Then sign your company up for one of my classes!)