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I was somewhat embarrassed when one my long time friends and business associates contacted me last night to comment on yesterday’s white board post.  “I never use Power Point”, was his first comment…and I know he closes some very big deals.  But his second comment was a correction, and he’s absolutely right!  “Your competition will likely see your notes if you leave them there.”

I was reminded of one of my first big deals at the start of this business.  The meeting was set to be held in the decision maker’s office, and I had spent several hours deliberating over the scope, sales call plan, and of course, pricing.  The price was the hard part.  I didn’t want to lose the deal to price, I didn’t have a reputation that justified a big price, and I didn’t want to undersell this, leaving me with a great project for no money.  I finally settled on a price I thought would work, but when I entered the office my competitor’s notes were on the board.  Their price was far higher!  So when the time came to give a price, I confidently put forth a price 60% higher than my original estimate.  The deal was agreed to the next day, and I was the winner.  Bottom line…don’t leave anything on the board for your competition to see.  (Another strategy might be to put some wrong information up their in an effort to lead them astray…said with a chuckle).

© 2011, David Stelzl

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Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Continuing on with the topic of white boarding – this is something someone should probably write a book on.  It’s one of the most used tools in the sales process, but often misused by ill-equipped sales people.  A few practical pointers:

1.     Always carry our own markers.  I started doing this about twelve years ago.  Many of my prospects thought it was funny, yet they appreciated my preparedness and the quality of the colors that brought my pictures to life.  You can’t close the million-dollar deal with a dead marker.

2.     There is no reason to recreate the wheel on every new sales call.  You use the same brochure wear, why not use the same illustrations.  Back to my comments on chalk drawing, I can think of several speakers that use chalk drawings as part of their gig.  It’s highly effective and the pictures look great every time.  Why?  Simply because they have practiced.  Get your storyboard together, learn to draw your diagrams, and use them often.  You can adlib as needed.

3.     Learn to draw while you talk.  There is nothing worse than watching someone draw with their back to you.  Practice drawing without thinking about it so you can put your attention on the client.

4.     Learn to write neatly.  It always amazes me when, in an interview, I ask someone to whiteboard something.  While writing in a falling arch format, they turn to me to explain that, “They aren’t very good at white-boarding.”  My response is, “You must be an expert if you want this job.”

5.     Use the entire board – I don’t mean the entire wall of the war-room…but I do mean, don’t make your pictures so small that no one can see them.  Spread things out so that the room can see what you’re talking about.

6.     Don’t call your white-boarding process a presentation.  One big advantage of white-boarding is that it gets you away from the canned presentation.  So even if it is well rehearsed, you can do it in a casual, ad hoc way.  This invite collaboration and interaction.

7.     Always ask if they would like for you to leave your information, or if you should erase the board when finished.  It’s the courteous thing to do.

© 2011, David Stelzl