A sales playbook is a collection of content, strategies, and processes that enables you and your sales team to sell more effectively.
Now more than ever, sales teams can no longer waste time chasing every lead they come across. When budgets are tight and economic outlook is uncertain, focus and efficiency is key for any sales team.
For start-ups, especially, efficiency is crucial no matter the economic outlook. So how does an organization know when they should be investing their efforts into creating a sales playbook? Usually it is when product/market fit is reached; you know what to sell, how to sell it, and who to sell it to. At this point, there is a need to scale processes across the team. On the other hand, there are also many established companies that have grown quickly and organically without a sales playbook in place. In this case, these companies tend to realize a need for a sales playbook when everyone starts to do different things and there is confusion.
Ultimately, any sales team wanting to improve productivity and standardize winning processes will need a sales playbook.
Benefits of a Sales Playbook
Crafting a killer sales playbook can be time consuming, but you’ll be able to see the benefits almost instantly.
Sales playbooks help to level-set and raise the tide for the whole team by taking best practices from high performers to build repeatable sales plays for the rest of the team. This in turns ultimately gives your team a head start — every sales rep can start with best practices and build/personalize from there instead of making things up from scratch.
An effective sales playbook, elevates and improves:
- Onboarding – Standardizes processes for a new hire so that everyone starts off with the same best practices.
- Time Savings – With all the resources that sales reps need in one place, this means greater focus and efficiency.
- Consistency – There are less surprises when everyone starts and refers to the same foundational information.
- Communication – Everyone speaks the same language. When someone says a deal is at a particular stage, everyone already knows exactly the criteria and steps that have been taken to reach this stage.
Sales Playbook Essentials
The first step to create a sales playbook is to determine who should be involved in your organization. Key stakeholders can span across leadership, sales, product marketing, and other representatives you see fit. It is crucial to gain insights from all necessary stakeholders and subject matter experts.
Follow with outlining your goals and priorities, so the playbook is focused and concise. Avoid building something that’s long and over-complicated, only include what is needed. Sales reps are more likely to adopt a short process that does not overwhelm them. To keep things simple, here is a sample template to kick-start your sales playbook:
Provide a clear description of the company background and offerings. This section should highlight the value proposition, answering questions like “Why does this company exist” and “Why should people buy products from you”. New hires should be able to use the basic company information here to get onboarded.
Spend time crafting and reviewing this section, it is the most critical to your sales playbook. This is where stages of the sales process will need to be clearly defined, along with the activities to execute each stage. Outlining who should be involved and core deliverables (i.e. the criteria that must be satisfied to move to the next stage) will be foundational to building out your sales process.
Include all the latest and greatest presentation decks, case studies, brochures, white papers, and any sales enablement materials that sales reps might need.
In this section, context should be provided to ensure people understand where, when, why and how to use these resources. This is what differentiates a sales playbook from just another pile of unorganized sales materials.
Draw out your ideal customer profile to help sales reps quickly identify a qualify lead. Include information such as job title, level of authority, challenges, etc.
This is where you can show your sales team what a great sales call sounds like or how to respond to roadblocks in conversations:
- Questions to Ask – experienced salespeople know the right questions to ask and when to ask them. Include these examples in the sales playbook so everyone is asking the right questions.
- Counter Objections – provide guidance in addressing common objections that sales reps may encounter.
Sales playbooks can be stored anywhere, but utilizing a digital platform will support better organization, convenient updating and accessibility. Unlike storing your materials in endless folders, CloseQuickly can optimize the way your resources are stored and used, so sales reps can actually take advantage of the sales playbook.
The Golden Key: Adoption
Once you’ve crafted your sales playbook, there is one major aspect not to overlook. You can build the best sales playbook, but if no one puts it to use there’s no value. Adoption is key. Your sales playbook must be:
- Easy to use – Information should be detailed but not overwhelming, especially for new hires. This needs to be a tool that is accessible and easy to pull up whenever needed.
- Supported by Leadership – Buy-in from the management team and key stakeholders will be essential in driving adoption. If your leaders do not believe in this tool, your team won’t see a reason to use it.
- Relevant – Processes and information will need to be regularly updated and accurately reflect the current sales experience.
Your Sales Playbook Is Always Evolving
Much like your sales processes and products, your sales playbook must continue to evolve. This living document will need regular updates and adjustments as you fine tune your sales processes and gain insights from practical use. The best playbooks are built from the experience of high performers. As new experiences and winning tactics are integrated into your playbook, you will see the improvement in the results. Don’t be afraid to change things up!