If you’ve ever watched American Football, then you’ve probably come across a playbook before. It’s when the coach whips out his book full of strategies and tactics for his players to follow.
In this scenario, you’re the coach with the playbook and the strategies within are what your running backs and quarterback (basically, your sales team) will follow to score those all-important touchdowns - or close the deals.
A sales playbook is essentially an in-depth document outlining the sales process you and your team use. The most effective sales playbooks tend to include:
A detailed process.
Competitive intelligence guidelines.
Basically, your sales playbook gives your team all of the content and strategies they’ll need to close a deal more efficiently without all of the guesswork and wasted time.
Now that you know what a sales playbook is, let's discuss how to create one.
When it’s time to create your sales playbook, keep some important factors in mind. Always keep it simple as your sales team will be relying on the playbook. Confusing them means techniques can lose effectiveness and they won’t be able to close as many sales as they can with an easy-to-follow playbook.
Also, make sure the sales playbook features an actual objective, focuses on customer needs and also outlines the target audience. Content should also be audited so that content can be categorised by the stage of the sales process it’s meant for so that time can be saved and your sales team will easily know which type of content to use and at which time.
Without all of this, your sales playbook will fall flat.
Summarise your company’s history in the first section. It should explain the details of the company, who leads the team, who’s accountable for each target and more. The overall purpose of this section is to get your sales team up to speed so they can quickly and easily familiarise themselves with the basic facts about the company.
Explain what makes your company different to others and what solutions you provide by telling a story to give a more humanised feel.
This section of the playbook should cover every service or product your sales team is selling. Everything about the product or service should be included here so they don’t have to waste time searching for information. That means the price, core value offerings and anything else which shows how this product or service is the perfect solution to the challenges the prospects face.
This section is perhaps the most important for your sales team to know.
Here, provide in-depth explanations of each step of your sales process from the first interaction to the moment the lead is closed. Highlight the key activities that define each stage, who’s involved in each stage and what the deliverables are. The more detailed the sales process is, the easier it is to know what’s working.
As important as it is for the marketing team to know about buyer personas - so they know what type of content to produce - your sales team should also have this knowledge outlined in the sales playbook. Highlighting this here helps them quickly and efficiently hone in on the most qualified leads.
That means the buyer personas should be detailed and not quick overviews, so include job titles, key performance indicators (KPIs), pain points, the experience they desire, how they learn and discover etc. It’s also wise to include qualification criteria here, such as when they might be able to make a purchase decision.
This also helps your sales team to know where they come into play in the buyer’s journey.
In the next section, help your sales team by laying out the ideal number, timing and medium of touches for when they should contact leads. An example might include:
Day 1: Email
Day 3: Email in the morning and a call in the afternoon.
Day 5: Call in the morning and a call with a voicemail in the afternoon.
Day 9: Email in the morning and a call in the afternoon with a voicemail.
Day 11: Email and a call in the morning.
In the playbook, provide guidelines to your sales team on when they should pursue opportunities and when they need to wave them goodbye. For example, if an email has been opened then the lead should be pursued but if a prospect has ignored a handful of them, then it’s time for your sales team to chase leads that are more interested.
One of the most detailed sections in the playbook should be the messaging your sales team will use. Sample messaging should be used such as email templates, calling and voicemail scripts depending on how prospects respond and how to handle certain situations. Basically, anything pre-written that will be useful for your sales team, include it here in the sales playbook.
To make the selling process more efficient for your sales team, include any examples of what a great sales call should be. It can be written examples or audio clips so that your sales team can incorporate the key takeaways and useful tips into their own process when trying to close leads.
Use this section of the playbook to highlight:
HubSpot has also written that a sales playbook should include at least one sales methodology for your sales team to know, understand and follow. This can be something like account-based marketing, for example.
So, describe what it is in this section, how your team should use it, where they can learn more etc.
Outline the metrics your sales team need to track and which they should be paying most attention to. In this section of your playbook, make sure you add the baseline numbers your sales team should know about.
Finally, look to add relevant content to your sales playbook for your team to use. This can include meet the team videos, case studies, testimonials, references - anything you believe will be of good value.
Having resources available on-demand lets your sales team easily incorporate them into the entire sales process which helps close sales and saves time without the need to create their own content from scratch.
That’s a rough example of what an effective sales playbook should look like. Obviously, you can be more specific depending on your business which can include pitch and investment-specific sections.
We’re not going to sit here and claim that creating a sales playbook is easy work. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort on your part but trust us, it’s worth it. An effective playbook means you can start seeing positive results right away.
Although training your sales team is important, it’s a lot quicker and much easier when you have a clear understanding of who your customers are, how they buy products, what their challenges are, how you communicate with them and more.
Without a sales playbook, your team needs to soak up all of this information by copying what other team members are doing. If they’re making mistakes, then they won’t be picked up by your sales team.
By having a sales playbook, it frees up your sales team to focus on what actually matters - selling. A State of Sales Productivity study has stated that sales teams spend roughly around one-third of their day creating content.
If your sales team don’t have to spend time developing their own messaging, questions and resources to use for prospects, then they can save valuable time by using ready-made content so more time can be spent focusing on selling, closing deals and making money for your business
Having a sales playbook means you know exactly which techniques do and don’t work. A sales playbook is never set in stone; it’s an ongoing process depending on various factors. It can be your business expanding, your strategy evolving or even customer shifts. The more that happens, the more you should update your sales playbook so only the most effective techniques are inside.
So, if you notice that someone in your team is using a method which has great success, then you can share that with the rest of the team to help close more sales by putting that technique in the sales playbook.
Creating and implementing a sales playbook is just one small part of sales enablement. There’s still a lot more to think about from sales collateral ideas your sales team should use, how to align your sales and marketing teams and more.
That’s why we’ve created an in-depth sales enablement eBook for you to download.
The eBook covers a wide range of topics from increasing motivation and productivity, sales automation, creating an effective lead qualification process, how sales enablement actually works and much more.