What Is a Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook is a documented guide that helps sales reps deploy the best strategies and tactics while talking to ideal prospects. It assists sales reps during different stages of selling, including prospecting, nurturing, or even closing a deal.
It’s crucial to note that playbooks are not a replacement for onboarding and training. Instead, these supplement the existing process and serve only as an aid, not an alternative. It contains resources such as email samples and script templates that guide them to take appropriate actions and make decisions.
Why Do You Need To Create Your Own Sales Playbook?
Following a customized and structured playbook proves beneficial across your sales team. It lays down the foundation for content from past successful sales wins and serves as an invaluable resource.
Creating a playbook is a time-consuming process. However, it’s worth the effort – you will see the result of this document instantly.
Supports in onboarding and training of new hires
A sales rep's average tenure sits at 1.5 years. But if your ramp time is three months, you are already down to just about one year of full productivity from your sales rep. This is why you need a solid training program that ramps up the hiring and onboarding efforts.
A sales playbook contains explicit instructions on your customers, your company’s value proposition, common pain points your company is trying to solve, and more.
Saves time for more valuable tasks
A sales rep spends almost half their day searching for the right content. Having a reckoner that gives them access to useful resources is important. This includes access to readymade content instead of creating their own questions and messages from scratch, saving them time to focus more on selling.
Aligns sales team toward a common goal
A sales playbook assists sales leaders in aligning the goals across the entire department. It lays the foundation around a common objective that ensures everyone is on the same page. It makes sure that every sales activity is directed towards a common goal, ensuring the overall growth of the company as well as individuals.
Centralizes your sales process
A sales playbook outlines your company’s sales methodologies, processes, best practices, and all important resources into a single book. This allows your salespeople to review the procedures and incorporate them into their daily activities, and thus, achieve their goals faster.
What To Include In A Sales Playbook?
Every organization’s sales playbook journey is personal and unique. Various factors, such as buyer journeys, sales cycle, industry, etc., influence a playbook's element.
However, there are a few elements that are common to every playbook, irrespective of the industry you belong to.
1. About your company
Most sales playbooks start with providing information on the overall details of your company. This section should highlight what your company does, what it wants to achieve, the company culture, who manages the sales team, and how the sales team's role fits into the organizational needs.
2. Products/service and pricing
Dive into details about your product or service offerings, including the pricing point. This chapter should help your sales team members understand your products' core value offerings, various use cases, how it works, and so on.
It equips sales reps with all the information required to sell your product or service and answer any sales objections your prospects might have.
Besides, if you deal in multiple offerings with different buyer personas or selling strategies, you can create a separate sales playbook for each product or service.
3. Mention your sales methodology
Sales methodology is basically a type of framework that your sales team uses to engage, nurture, and convert your ideal customers. Some sales methodologies include SPIN selling, MEDDIC, the challenger sales model, and more.
Define your sales methodology and explain to your sales team how a particular sales method can assist them in their selling journey. It acts as a roadmap that allows them to walk their prospect through different stages of their buying journey.
4. Explain the sales process
Explain each step of your sales process to your reps from start to end. It covers all the steps – identifying leads, engaging and nurturing them, and ultimately trying to close the deals.
5. Playbook KPIs and goals
Defining the KPIs or metrics is crucial as it tells your sales team how you will measure the progress. These provide a clear picture of your sales goals, how their performance will be measured, what defines the success of a company, etc.
6. Identify buyer persona
Describe who your ideal customers are – describe the challenges they face and how your solution fits into their requirements. This will allow sales reps to qualify leads and target their needs to sell your products effectively.
7. Sales play
Sales play refers to the set of repeated moves, steps, or actions that salespeople follow. In other words, it outlines the procedure a sales rep needs to follow in a specific situation. Some of the plays to include in your playbook are lead qualification play, content personalization play, use case play, prospecting play, closing play, etc.
Typically, most businesses need somewhere between 10 and 50 sales plays.
For instance, a follow-up play will include information on how to follow up with an inbound lead at the top of the funnel (ToFu). It will have all the necessary details, resources, and proven strategies to do it correctly. You will find answers to –
- What are the required actions? What questions should you ask to undertake a specific needs assessment?
- What steps to take to follow up after the first appointment?
- What should you do/say in response to the various challenges?
- How to communicate with potential customers who have stopped replying?
8. Educate about sales tools
This might seem irrelevant, but every sales team must be onboard and comfortable using the technology. It trains them on which tool to use at the right time and explains the usage and benefits of each sales tool used within the organization.
Provide ample resources and materials to your sales reps that they need to achieve their goals. This could include –
- Case studies
- White papers
- Product presentations
- Articles, etc.
Make sure all your resources are well-organized and easily accessible whenever your sales reps need them. It’s even better to organize them based on different buyer journeys tailored to individual buyers.
How To Build A Winning Sales Playbook?
Now that we have a basic understanding of a typical sales playbook, the next task is to create one. Here are the five steps that will help you create an effective sales playbook.
i. Assess your existing sales process
The first step is to review your existing sales process in the company. Your sales process must be analyzed and aligned with your current goals, products and services, your buyer personas’ needs, and more.
While doing so, you can replicate the strategies that have brought success in the past. You can then further customize the practices or processes that fill the gap in the existing process and make it more adaptable.
For instance, a sales rep has achieved success in the past with cold calls by following a particular script. This sales script can be shared with other sales members to measure its success, and if it works, include it in the sales playbook for other members to use.
ii. Identify who will be involved in the process of sales playbook creation
The next step is to assemble a team who will be responsible for the ultimate creation of your company’s sales book.
Sales leaders and representatives
You will need to include people from the sales department as they can properly assess the current sales process and how to customize it further for greater success. Include sales leaders, top performers, and business development to ensure that they share the best practices and make a comprehensive sales playbook.
Subject matter experts
Sometimes, you may also need to hire an external subject matter who has previously designed a sales playbook. They can assess the whole situation from an external eye and help add valuable insights to the playbook.
Include marketing team members who work with content, sales enablement materials, and other related resources. It will allow your sales team to collaborate with your marketing team and ensure that both departments are aligned.
Senior executives and other stakeholders
Include the C-suite executives to ensure that the playbook aligns with the overall organizational objectives. Besides, support from the top-level executives will ensure that the playbook is adapted organization-wide.
At the same time, choose a project manager responsible for overseeing the progress and ensuring the playbook is created effectively.
iii. Outline your sales playbook goals
The next step is to define your sales playbook goals. For this, you need to answer questions like–
- In what ways do the sales reps need help, and how can this playbook benefit them?
- What are some lesser-known strategies for success? How can you communicate this to the team to put them into action?
- Which aspects of the sales process present the most difficulty for sales reps? Which of those aspects do you need to cover in greater detail in the playbook?
A lot of suggestions may come from your sales reps. They are the ones experiencing the sales process. It's important for them to relay information and feedback based on their experiences.
iv. Reconcile the buyer’s journey with your selling process
While building a sales playbook, it’s crucial to understand how prospects navigate through their buying process. You need to be able to define your prospect’s buying and selling process and define various challenges at each touchpoint.
Based on these pain points, you can identify content and the best strategies to ensure your leads' progress. Besides, it will add to your buyer’s experience once you know their hurdles at different stages and help resolve them.
v. Design your play based on proven strategies
When adding different plays to your sales playbook, you need to ensure that all the tactics and strategies shared in those plays have a proven success record. While building a sales playbook, you can have your sales team share their knowledge and feedback to learn from each other. Furthermore, you can analyze your top performer's behavior – what makes them the best among other team members.
Here, you need to define a few things –
- Who are your buyers and their pain points?
- What your typical sales process looks like
- What are your leads' qualification criteria?
- What are your overall sales goals?
- Which industry are you selling in?
vi. Create and share access to your sales playbook
Once you have created your sales playbook, it’s time to start implementing it. This means reps should have access to these playbooks at their fingertips. If reps can’t easily find the right resource when required, the objective of having a sales playbook will go in vain.
Upload your sales playbook to a cloud-based platform, such as a sales CRM or sales automation tool, to make it easy for sales teams to find and access any information.
vii. Analyze the success of your playbook
You must track and review the success of your playbook. Once your sales reps start using the playbook, you need to keep a tab on its usage, success, and relevance.
That means you need to periodically review your playbook and ensure content is relevant to your company goals, strategy, and any new products. The market trends are constantly evolving; thus, your sales playbook needs to be updated so that it doesn’t affect your business.
Also, ask for your customer's opinions and take internal feedback from your sales reps. You can use surveys to get feedback on how they find the current sales process and incorporate that feedback into your sales playbook.
Key Characteristics of a Sales Playbook
Once you have created a sales playbook, you need to take care of three aspects so that it serves its purpose. There are three characteristics of a sales playbook –
Make sure the playbook is up to date to reflect any changes to the sales processes. At the same time, the sales enablement assets in the playbook should constantly be monitored to check for their relevance. Marketing teams should add new important assets to the playbook as and when they develop them.
The purpose of having a sales playbook is defeated if your sales reps aren’t able to use it at the right time. You might maintain a printed document, but when your sales reps are on the go, you might want to give them access to their smartphones.
To ensure its usability, sales playbooks are divided into different sections so that sales reps can easily find the information. Furthermore, you can even include the playbook as a part of your new employee orientation program to ramp up the onboarding and training process.
When done, your sales playbook will become the definitive document. A document that orchestrates how your sales process and strategies work together. An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that a playbook acts as a command center. It holds granular data on each category; it churns out sales plays specific to situations.
All in all, it also includes strategic instructions for your sales teams to be successful.
Giving your team the resources and help will increase the likelihood of the outcomes. These outcomes come in the form of better sales performance.