If you’ve worked in a sales team, then you will have crossed paths with the sales whiteboard. If you’re reading this at work there’s probably one in the room right now, lurking against the back wall like that unkempt guy in the club who hasn’t realised the lights have come on and its time to go home.
CRM’s have usurped the Filofax. LinkedIn and Google have rendered the yellow pages redundant. The internet and free exchange of information has driven the snake oil salesman out of town. Analogue has evolved into digital. All of this progress, and yet the best we can do to publicly acknowledge our success is a whiteboard? We believe we can do better than that, and we know that digital wallboard technology is the way we do it.
If you’re unfamiliar, the concept is simple: you take a TV or computer monitor, put it in the place previously occupied by your whiteboard, and use one of many the digital wallboard platforms available to connect it to your CRM. It will pull data from your CRM in real-time, and display it in a variety of colourful, engaging formats.
With this in mind, here are five comparisons that should convince you that it’s time to take the old whiteboard out back and put it down. The digital wallboard revolution is here.
1. Limited display of data
What do you have on your whiteboard? Number of sales? Revenue generated? That’s most likely it. Yet you have a CRM sitting right there with reams of information, most likely rarely accessed or used.
How are your employees supposed to establish trends in their work when they’re boiled down to a single number? How can your sales managers generate actionable insight in to their teams? To quote the famous 1960’s TV show ‘The Prisoner’ – “I am not a number! I am a human being!”
Choose whatever metrics you want, throw them up there. You probably have your sales leaders sitting at the top of the board for deals closed each month, but who is making the most phone calls? Who has set the most meetings?
A sales manager we know once said sales always comes down to he ‘who has the skill and the will’. If you can see someone is generating a high amount of activity, but not closing their deals, then they have the will but are lacking the skill. This is good news, because skill can be taught. You can now identify who needs help, and potentially create yourself a whole new batch of top sales performers.
2. No real time displays of data
Ok, so there’s a lot of data available to you. Why put up with the delay in displaying it? The first time you get to put a sale up on the white board is a big moment, you practically run up to the white board – pen in hand – ready to show off your closed deal. The 100th time you’ve closed a deal, not so much.
A lot of the time people outright forget and have to be prompted. Yet we have the technology to generate real-time updates to whatever metrics you like. Why wait for your sales team to fill it in, or accidentally put the wrong numbers up?
Instant updates = instant gratification. If I make a phone call, and instantly see my phone call bar move up one step closer to my target for the day, you can be assured I’m going to pick that phone straight back up and make another one. Waiting for data to update is so 2005. We should display our actions loud and proud and, most importantly, instantly.
The benefit for your staff is they get an instant pat on the back and a pleasant little dopamine boost for a job well done. The good news for your sales managers is they can instantly see who is slacking, and give them a swift kick up the butt (metaphorically, of course – let’s try not to break any laws).
3. Greater insight for business owners
Speaking of managers, what does the whiteboard really tell you? You can see at a glance how many deals have been closed, and how much money those deals have generated. This is useful for a general overview, sure, but what kind of actionable insight does that give you in to your team? Who are your strongest performers? Who are your weakest? Are they performing as a unit? What does it really tell you? Not a whole lot is the answer.
Stop managing, start leading. At a glance, figure out who is struggling and give them some help. Discover who is excelling in areas beyond just ‘deals closed’ and give them acknowledgement they wouldn’t normally receive. Use your wallboard to display your daily best performers in multiple different aspects and give everyone a chance to shine.
4. Help your team understand the path they’re on
Your white board displays sales made. That’s it. No context, no bigger picture. It’s like walking in to a movie 20 minutes before the end. Sure, you get to see the resolution, but honestly, what’s the point without knowing the full story?
Show them the journey they need to take. Hopefully you know your sales funnel pretty well. Share that knowledge with your team. If 100 phone calls generates 10 meetings, which leads to one sale, throw all of that up. Let each individual see how what they’re putting in the funnel is affecting what’s coming out the bottom. Allow them insight in to the bigger picture of the business. How have their actions impacted the larger goals of your organisation? Give them ownership, and they will sell harder.
5. Drive desired behaviour
Sales, sales, sales. That’s all a whiteboard ever really displays. Now you’re probably wondering why that’s an issue, being part of a sales team and all. It’s an issue because you’re not doing anything to encourage the behaviour that leads to the sales happening. You’re putting all your emphasis on the end result, and really no thought in to the steps that get you there. This is not how you want a modern sales team to be operating. It’s the journey, not the destination that matters. If you walk the right path, you’ll always make it to where you need to be.
Encourage the behaviour you want to see. Need a higher volume of phone calls? Offer up a special prize to whoever is displaying the most calls on the wallboard at the end of the day. Need more emails to be sent? Throw everyone’s email stats up on the board, and watch the people who are now very publicly in last place suddenly kick it up a gear. Choose the behaviour you want to see, and find a way to drive it forward. When you can display whatever information you like, it’s really not difficult.
I think its clear what side of this debate we fall down on. Whiteboards are dead, long live digital wallboard displays! So let’s hear your thoughts.
Do whiteboards have a place in this modern world? Do you have some compelling reason why you’d prefer to stick to the whiteboard way?