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Five Ways to Boost Sales Using Visual Storytelling


Guest articles > Five Ways to Boost Sales Using Visual Storytelling


by: Corey Sommers


Ever heard the term "Death by PowerPoint?"  This has become a common way to describe the lack of interactivity and boredom engendered by slide presentations.  You’ve only got one chance to stand out from the crowd, and slides aren’t the answer.


Here are five ways salespeople can boost performance using "visual storytelling" instead of slides.  Whether using a whiteboard, a flipchart, the back of an envelope or a tablet PC via desktop sharing software, savvy salespeople are now using the visual storytelling approach to engage with prospects in a way that will sets them apart from the competition. 


#1: Develop a Powerful Whiteboard "Story" Instead of Bullets

Your presentation should be much more than just a list of bullets - it should be a compelling visual narrative designed to showcase your products and services and how they deliver unique value.  For example, you could create a story about a “tragic hero” (an anonymous customer) who overcomes adversity (the current situation) to attain ultimate glory (the desired state, achieved uniquely by your solution/service).  The story also needs to be visually intriguing, with humorous iconography, and should have a script that goes along with each step.  And don't forget to include planned interaction points where you’ll engage with the customer to ensure a two-way dialogue.


#2: Practice Becoming a Storyteller

With the visual storytelling approach, it's essential that you immerse yourself in the content.  Why? Because in order to draw something, in needs to be in your head... the board isn't going to draw itself! So, pair up with a colleague and take turns presenting the material in a real-world situation.  You should practice the story multiple times until you've got it down cold.  First, master the visual flow and focus on the content accuracy on your own.  Once you’ve got the flow and content  mastered to the point where you can draw out the entire whiteboard without referring to notes, integrate the script and practice presenting the story “in role” to your peers on an actual whiteboard.


#3: Go Virtual

Using simple web conferencing software and an inexpensive pen tablet, you can easily simulate a fully virtual whiteboarding experience.  This can make a big difference on your return-on-sales: you can skip the costly flight and still conduct an interactive and intimate sales call remotely.  And you won't just save money  - you'll also command greater attention from your prospects.  We've found that while 50% of WebEx viewers intermittently leave a remotely shared PowerPoint presentation to access other applications, the attrition rate is less than 10% using the visual storytelling approach. 


#4: Add Whiteboarding to Your Phone Sales

If you’re part of an inside sales team or do most of your selling over the phone, you can use the virtual whiteboarding scenario described above to have interactive dialogues and qualification discussions that go far beyond your typical sales conversation. Imagine the difference it will make when instead of saying, "can I send you an email with more information?" you're able to ask, "are you on your computer?  Why don't we jump on a quick WebEx demo so I can show you what I'm talking about with a virtual whiteboard?”


#5: Road Test Your Story

Whether you’re planning to deliver your whiteboard in person or remotely, make sure you test out the presentation with an actual customer you trust.  The question you want to ask is: “Does this story resonate with you?"  The type of feedback you are looking for here is whether or not you are hitting the right customer challenges and pain points.  You want to make sure your day-in-the-life story starts off with the major concerns that keep your prospects up at night.

After following these steps, the next thing to do is present the whiteboard in a live sales situation.  So, put aside your slide decks and pick up a pen - you've got a story to tell.


Corey Sommers is co-founder and CMO of WhiteboardSelling, a leading provider of sales enablement solutions.  Corey has more than 15 years experience in sales and channel enablement, account manager certification and training, and competitive intelligence. He is passionate about bridging the gap between marketing and sales within large organizations.  Prior to founding WhiteboardSelling, he developed and executed VMware’s channel enablement strategy globally, across VARs, OEMs, Distributors, ISVs, and Corporate Reseller channel segments. He had shared responsibility for sales enablement and training for BMC Software’s world-wide direct sales organization. Corey was also founder of Ventaso, a leading provider of sales-ready messaging software and tools. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contributor: Corey Sommers

Published here on: 14-Jun-09

Classification: Sales, Storytelling


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