Why Every Team Needs a Killer Sales Playbook

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:


Sample Template

Company Overview

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.

Sales Process:

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.

Sales Resources:

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.

Buyer Persona:

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.

Examples:

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.

Platform:

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!

Building Sales Playbooks: The Golden Rule

How do you make better playbooks?

I’ve created a lot of sales playbooks in my time, and have found that almost universally, there are a few components that make sales playbooks successful, they must be:

There are three components that matter: 1) Adoption 2) Adoption 3) Adoption. (like the number one rule in real estate)

  1. Engaging and easy to use – salespeople have short attention spans. Nothing against salespeople, it’s just that they have a lot of prospects to talk to and fill their pipeline, and not a lot of time to read dictionary-sized manuals. The key here, is would a human being actually want to use this playbook? Remember that salespeople are measured on sales (shocking, I know), not on their ability to follow a handbook. What I mean is that they don’t *have* to use your playbook, so you need to make them *want* to follow it. So consider how to make it fun and interesting – can you embed video? Add some humor? Use relatable stories and memorable sound bytes?
  2. Focused and concise – there is no shortage of sales collateral in most organizations. Most playbooks that I have seen are too long, too detailed, and too complex, which makes it too daunting for people to use. The hard part is selecting only the best materials. All killer and no filler.
  3. Useful and effective – typically, sales playbooks are created by people who are not in direct quota carrying roles. Often these are product marketing, sales effectiveness, or sales enablement roles. These people have tough jobs and are unsung heroes that enable other people to be successful, but they do not live the sales process every day, which means that they are sometimes more focused on what salespeople should be doing rather than what is working. The key here is to make sure you consult with salespeople directly in the creation of sales playbooks, to make sure that the guidelines and resources are actually effective.