One of our clients’ clients (the CIO of a Fortune 1000) recently came up to me after a meeting at a business association we’re both involved in. He had just met with his vendor (our client) over lunch and was impressed with the new way they were telling their story. What stood out to him the most? The simple little diagram they drew for him in the restaurant. It summarized their network infrastructure challenges with just a few simple strokes of a pen.
Ever since we first started PitchMaps, we knew that the whiteboard (or back-of-a-napkin) sketch would be an important part of our core messaging engagements. Along the way, we’ve found that it is often the single most helpful, and most “sticky”, element of the sales messaging we create for clients. Why is this?
A winning whiteboard sketch does four things:
1. It establishes credibility. When you walk into a sales meeting and pull out a PowerPoint presentation, you haven’t really demonstrated any unique expertise (at least not in the eyes of the presentee). But when you close the laptop and start drawing on the whiteboard, there’s an immediate credibility boost. Why? You’ve just gone from reading off a presentation created by “marketing” to clearly demonstrating that you understand your prospect’s business and have something to say. This builds trust, moving you much further down the field towards a win.
2. It turns your presentation into a conversation. Not only is the process more interactive (it’s more natural and typically more concise than walking through a deck), but the whiteboard sketch also generates further dialogue. With a helpful diagram up on the board (or napkin, or flip chart, or sheet of paper), you’ll find yourself and your prospect continually referring back to it. Sometimes, the prospect will even start drawing on it as well, adding details or different dimensions. This level of interaction is very hard to achieve in a traditional slide presentation.
3. It keeps the listener engaged. When you’re halfway through your whiteboard presentation and there’s a partially-completed diagram up on the board, your listener can’t help but try to complete it for you in their head. This activates their mind and builds tension (just like a good story). Then, if your whiteboard story takes an unexpected turn or leads to a surprising conclusion, you’ll further cement the experience, the image, and (most importantly) the message, in their mind.
4. It sticks. While your prospect may not remember every point you made a week after you spoke with them, a good whiteboard sketch tends to stick with them. This makes it much easier for them to retell your story to their colleagues. In those critical moments when they are trying to get buy-in from other influencers or decision-makers and you’re not there to help present your case, that simple visual goes a long way.
Best of all, you don’t ever have to search for your remote clicker, change the battery, charge your computer, try to connect the right cable to the right port, find the latest version of the file, wait for the projector to warm up, or sing and dance to keep the presentee awake on slide 52.
All you need is a pen.
Read Part 2 in this series here:
Draw to a close (Part 2): Three keys to creating a sketch that sells