Effective Sales Whiteboards are more than a narrative; they are discussion frameworks that support two-way knowledge transfer. While the framework is pragmatic, logical and flows in a step-by-step process, it is flexible to adapt to different situations that may present themselves. Think of the whiteboard selling narrative as a formalized discussion guide that a focus group moderator may use. There is thought to what one will cover, as well as how and when to cover the material. But there is also flexibility to allow for a natural, comfortable conversation with a customer in order to create a shared vision that progresses the sales cycle.

While there are several types of Sales Whiteboards, all must drive to specific next steps and actions that move the sales process forward.

Qualification & Discovery Whiteboards

These whiteboards are used to assess the value of a sales-accepted lead to determine if it meets the criteria in the qualification matrix to be accepted as a qualified sales opportunity. Qualification & Discovery Whiteboards should probe deep enough into a prospect to understand the existing business challenges and desired business outcomes. And, enough insight should be generated to determine if the value proposition can be realized by the prospect.

By uncovering data, information and insights about a prospect’s current business environment and desired business outcomes, Qualification & Discovery Whiteboards set up a Why Change or Solution Whiteboard.

Why Change Whiteboard

Relatively speaking, a small percentage of any market is aware of the need to evolve or transform how they run their business or their business model. This portion of the market is typically referred to as innovators or early adopters. However, even though they are ready, willing and able to buy, they represent only a small fraction of the marketplace.

Some organizations segment the sales department into new business and existing business, and sales reps into hunters (to acquire new logos) and farmers (to service existing customers). Hunters are typically required to provide new insights to customers or to show them new opportunities or new ways to look at old problems. This is so these customers become catalysts or evangelists inside of their organization to change the status quo. Why Change Whiteboards facilitate a structured conversational framework designed to push prospects out of the status quo and understand both the risk of inaction and the benefits of change.

Solution Whiteboard

Solution Whiteboards may be the most frequently used type of whiteboard in the sales process. Solution Whiteboards are a great way to establish a more in-depth dialogue and knowledge transfer around how one’s offering uniquely addresses the prospect’s business need. These whiteboards also display the perceived value or desired business gains and highlight where one has proven success helping customers in similar scenarios.

Solution Whiteboards build on the Qualification & Discovery Whiteboard and the why Change Whiteboard. A Solution Whiteboard specifically addresses what it is, how it is done and how one’s organization does if differently than anyone else — and why that is better.

The outcome of a Solution Whiteboard should be to lay out a shared vision on how one’s solution can uniquely address the prospect’s specific business challenge and provide the desired financial business outcomes.

Competitive Whiteboard

The objective of a Competitive Whiteboard is to clearly and authoritatively demonstrate how one’s solution is superior across a specific set of criteria that are key to the customer’s purchase process criteria. Presales technical resources and subject matter experts are typically included in the Competitive Whiteboard session as customers want to a head-to-head comparison of how one’s solution and organization stacks up to specific competitors.

Business Case Whiteboard

A Business Case Whiteboard is designed to address the customer’s concern for how the cost of the solution can both be justified internally and when the project ROI will be realized. This whiteboard is usually required to be quantitative in nature.

Closing Whiteboard

A Closing Whiteboard is used when the need for the solution has been established, one’s solution is the first choice and it is clear how the investment will more than pay for itself and in a short time horizon. However, someone higher in the organization usually needs to be convinced. Closing Whiteboards often take the form of a consolidated Solution Whiteboard and a Business Case Whiteboard.

Not every opportunity will require every type of whiteboard described above. Creating whiteboards does require time and effort. However, the direct selling model is an expensive way to acquire customers, so every effort should be made to increase both the velocity in the pipeline and the close/won ratio. Whiteboard selling brings a managed, repeatable process to the sales function that is very effective in new customer acquisition. It is a process based on insights, transferring knowledge and changing the status quo.

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Read more: A Guide to the B2B Inside Sales Process