Let's be honest, sales presentations, unless they're really well produced (think an Apple product launch), can look and feel boring, mass-produced and, most-importantly, impersonal. Its getting harder and harder for Sales and PreSales to communicate a personalised message in an increasingly visually cluttered and noisy world.
For Sales and PreSales, we're trying to ensure we get remembered, differentiate ourselves from our competitors, establish credibility and trust. I think sketching out a vision, story or idea right in front of your audience is way more of a 'performance' than rolling out your 'authorised' deck of company slides. If you've got a 'visual' audience, and many of them will be, as soon as you get a pen out you'll have captured their attention. As Dan Roam (see later) says, '...the spontaneity and roughness of hand-drawn pictures make them less intimidating and more inviting...nothing makes an image clearer then seeing it drawn out-step-by-step'.
Sketching ideas or storytelling on a physical or (as we'll see) digital whiteboard is super engaging. If you're also combining discovery with explaining an idea or jointly working through a problem then the fluidity a whiteboard offers for visual trial and error is unparalleled. And if you're 'weaving' a story about the business problem your prospect doesn't realise they have, or jointly architecting a Cloud future incorporating your solutions, sketching will make it seem way more interactive, collaborative and, very importantly, personal.
Right...what do you need to get started.
How to get started... just a pen or a pencil...
How to get started...just a pen stylus...
Probably the cheapest and most portable way of creating a digital whiteboard is to use the built in whiteboard tools of WebEx (for example) and get yourself a Wacom CTL-490 Intuos graphics pen tablet [about £50 in the UK; that's mine covered in fingerprints in the photo]. The writing area is about A5 size (1/2 US Letter). Plug it into your laptop USB port, load the driver and off you go...start sketching. It works like a mouse but comes into its own as a digital writing surface. PowerPoint recognises when you use the pen / stylus on the Intuos tablet surface and pops up a new menu called 'Ink Tools'. [Top Tip: Configure the shortcut for the lowest pen / stylus button (nearest the nib) to be 'Ctrl-Z' Undo; you'll thank me later].
I hope I've got you excited about whiteboarding and sketching. I'd love to hear how you use sketching and any top tips you can share.
To finish off, I was recently coaching a tech company on how they could use sketching to tell stories in the sales process. Here's my before (start) and after (end) digital whiteboard sketch I used to explain Big Data and Hadoop in 2 minutes; starting with an elephant (Hadoop), a pig (Apache Pig) and a lightning bolt (Apache Spark).