Near the end of 2011, I had the opportunity to spend an hour with Corey Sommers on the phone for the first time. At the time, he and his partner, David Jenkins, were the two principals at WhiteBoard Selling, a small, niche, sales enablement provider. I say “were” because Whiteboard Selling was acquired by Corporate Visions last year. I called it a very smart move at the time and I still believe that to be true.
Back to the briefing. As an analyst firm, we send the following agenda to providers looking to brief us for the first time:
- Target market/sweet spot;
- Brief overview of approach/products/services – not a sales pitch;
- Who do you compete against? Differentiators, unique capabilities;
- Customer value proposition;
- About your company. Years in business, size, growth, revenue model (percentage training, vs. consulting, vs product sales, etc.);
- Growth plans, if any;
- Marketing approach;
- Deployment of technology-enabled learning and –selling;
- Several brief examples where a client has quantified the results of what you provided;
- Current opportunities and challenges.
Corey covered the entire briefing in one whiteboard slide via a web meeting. I found what Corey did to be profound. During several hundred sales performance provider briefings to that point (and since) never once did anyone attempt to employ anything other than PowerPoint. And the whiteboard was so much more effective than Powerpoints. Corey grabbed my attention (and my imagination) and didn’t let go.
Since that initial briefing, ESR has had the opportunity to work with and speak to companies that have rolled out the Whiteboard Selling approach. They provided further validation that there is significant differentiation and value employing Whiteboard Selling.
So, with all that in mind, you can see why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their brand new book.
Just to be clear: using a whiteboard in a selling situation isn’t new. This book takes the reader through an established, proven process and architecture for whiteboarding, and a provides a method for broad deployment across a sales organization. That is new.
As an example, according to Whiteboard Selling, there are six different types of whiteboards that can be used in different settings and at different stages of the selling cycle. They are:
- Qualification and discovery whiteboards
- Why change whiteboards
- Solution whiteboards
- Competitive whiteboards
- Business case whiteboards
- Closing whiteboards.
This isn’t a book to skim through in order to pick up a few tips and tricks. Not at all. After making a very strong case for Why the whiteboard, and clear direction on How you use it, the authors push hard for adoption not so much by individual sales contributors, but through a formal initiative driven by marketing, sales enablement, or key executives. I like that a lot.
By the way, this is the kind of book that supports what you’ve learned reading The Johsua Principle, The Challenger Sale, Bottom-Line Selling, and many of the other books that have content relevant to today’s tough business environment.
Here is a link to the book on Amazon. I highly recommend it.