Whiteboard every time

whiteboard presentingGeeky types (of which I am one) often debate the pros and cons of software tools. No more so than when it comes to presentation software. Powerpoint is so omnipresent that the word is now almost interchangeable with “presentation” e.g. “She came in and gave a Powerpoint”. However younger, more creative and frankly better-looking folks trumpet the benefits of Keynote when it comes to winning that advertising account. Meantime at the bleeding edge those in the know may use Prezi with its hypnotic, swirling transformations.

Despite my geeky tendencies I suggest that the best tool for sales presentations is a good old fashioned whiteboard. Let me explain why.

Should you be presenting at all?

As we are often reminded, we have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that ratio. Our most important goal is to understand the needs of the customer so that we can figure out if/how we can help them. Too often I’ve seen sales and marketing people arrive, exchange pleasantries and then launch with relish into an hour long Powerpoint presentation on how great their company is. Telling isn’t selling.

But I’ve got to tell them something at some point!

Sure you do. At some point the customer will ask you about your company and products. The whole idea is to have a two-way conversation with them, so you can’t keep asking questions forever. It’s not the Spanish Inquisition! But you don’t have to do this as a major presentation. You can tell them the relevant facts about your company and products face-to-face and leave them with the collateral material to back that up.

So where does the whiteboard come in?

The whiteboard is excellent to help test your understanding of the customer’s problem/opportunity and how you can help them. If you start sketching this out on the whiteboard the customer will immediately start correcting you, filling in the gaps and giving you feedback. When you start drawing in how your product can help the effect is more immediate, obvious and relevant. It’s not unusual for a customer to grab a marker and join you… suddenly you’re working together!

Why else?

  • It’s spontaneous and enthusiastic so breaks up and enlivens what might
    otherwise be a dull meeting
  • Once you stand up and grab the marker you are in charge!
  • It’s reliable. As long as there’s ink in the pens (keep one in your bag) a whiteboard can’t crash! We’ve all suffered from computer woes when presenting like this unfortunate TED presenter.
  • There are no distracting special effects. Prezi is a very cool tool, but I often wonder if people are concentrating on the zooming and whirling effects rather than the message.
  • You get to show your competence and understanding of their requirements. Any fool can read from a ppt slide

So it may not be right for every situation, but next time you get the chance leap to your feet and start “talking and chalking”.

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