Your sales team's efficiency is the most important factor driving business. You may have a great team, but it will invariably fall short without a solid, all-encompassing game plan. Creating a sales playbook allows your team to be proactive and prepares it to take challenges head-on.
A sales team can deliver the goods only if it has a focussed approach, a clear understanding of a company's sales priorities, and clarity of organizational vision. In fact, one of the biggest reasons sales teams fail to meet their goals is due to lacking a clear game plan. Your sales team needs and deserves a clear, unambiguous plan that they can execute to get the job done.
Creating a strong business playbook that's specific to your sales team can boost their efficiency exponentially. A properly designed playbook can eliminate common issues that would otherwise prevent your sales team from achieving targets.
In this article, let’s understand what a sales playbook is and how you can create a sales playbook template to give your sales team the best chance to succeed.
What is a Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook is a go-to resource for your sales team that contains resources, strategies, and action plans. It should provide a clear vision for your team so that their goals align with the purposes of the company at large.
An effective sales playbook will help your team build easily implementable sales methodologies to close deals.
It breaks down the sales process into the most basic elements. Moreover, it helps your team deal with the process's ups and downs.
A good playbook will consider every tool necessary to make a sale, from your call scripts to your sales funnel.
If your team is not clear on what they need to do when facing a certain situation, it will lose efficiency and focus. A playbook can help them reorient their sales compass to get back on track and close deals that matter.
What is the Purpose of a Sales Playbook?
The purpose of a sales playbook is to help your team understand their role in the sales process and clearly understand what is expected of them. Not giving your team a playbook to follow is like dropping someone blindfolded into deep waters and expecting them to find their way out.
Your team will perform only if they have the map to navigate through the system and the ability to read it correctly. If they encounter a hurdle, they should have the resources and the confidence to overcome it.
Sales playbooks reinforce the learning process, keep your team up-to-date, and serve as a cheat sheet for employees in a bind. It can also serve as a central communication blueprint.
Having a sales playbook also ensures that everyone on your team is on the same page. From seasoned and experienced professionals to rookies, a playbook helps ensure everyone knows their role in the group and how to deal with situations.
Why are Sales Playbooks Important for Modern Sales Teams?
Modern sales teams are different in many fundamental ways from traditional groups. While individuals drove traditional groups, modern units have a more team-centric approach.
It is important for businesses today to align the goals of all the team members around the core objectives to ensure efficacy. A well-crafted playbook can allow firms to guide their sales teams through a proven sales cycle and tried-and-tested strategies.
Modern businesses work on the ability to scale the business quickly, and having a playbook allows teams to do just that. As the competition is fierce, even a small mistake in strategizing or executing the plan can become a catastrophe.
Consequently, it becomes crucial for a sales organization to prepare its team for all possibilities. A playbook is one of the best ways to do that.
Once your team knows how to face any challenge, they are much better prepared to scale your business without much trial and error.
Most successful B2B sales playbook examples contain high-level guidelines and specific play-by-play instructions to handle tricky situations.
The biggest advantage of a playbook for a modern organization is that it ramps up the new hires and keeps the sales reps informed about any change that may happen at an organizational level.
If you don’t provide a sales playbook to your employees, they must independently figure out the solutions to a problem. It can significantly decrease their productivity and increase the time required to find a solution to the problem.
According to Harvard Business Review, organizations with effective pipeline management tend to have a 15% higher growth rate than those without.
A streamlined sales process and a blueprint from a well-crafted sales playbook allow the sales reps the motivation and tools to reach the set goals.
Once the employees know the plan and have all the tools, they are more likely to succeed. It is as simple as that.
In the absence of a centralized playbook, mistakes often are left undetected and can lead to a sales process that is highly ineffective and flawed.
You need your salespeople to be able to help and guide the buyers. The only way that can happen is when the sales staff has the practical resources and ready-made content.
When your team can offer expert-level insights to your potential clients, they can close deals much faster.
A good sales playbook is not a static piece of the document either. It is continuously evolving, with more content added to it and obsolete or failed strategies being removed.
For instance, if one of the sales reps finds that a particular email cadence or a call strategy helps to drive the deal forward, it can be included in the playbook.
Ultimately, a sales playbook can drive your organization's sales and maximize efficiency. Your team will be able to deliver quality experiences and power the revenue engines with a playbook.
Benefits of a Sales Playbook
Creating a sales playbook can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. However, it has the potential to transform your sales team into a super sales team.
Here are a few benefits of having a well-crafted sales playbook:
1. Hiring and Training New Sales Reps
Training a new salesperson is exponentially easier if you have a sales playbook ready for them. With this single document, they will understand everything they need to know about your organization, sales strategy, goals, and sales funnels. Everything that they need to know is there in the playbook.
2. Free Up Existing Sales Reps
The best salesperson is the one who spends all their time selling rather than searching for information. If your team has a playbook, they have information at their fingertips. They do not need to run from pillar to post in search of any resource.
It frees them up to make more sales calls and meet their targets.
3. Land a Strategy That Works
As we discussed above, a sales playbook is a continuously evolving document. As your team starts using the playbook, you will begin finding the strategies that work the best and the sales process that don’t.
If you notice that some of your reps are succeeding with a certain sales strategy, you can incorporate that strategy into your playbook.
As most effective sales plays get highlighted in the playbook, all your sales reps can implement them to boost their sales.
What Should a Sales Playbook Include?
A sales playbook is not a universal key that can help every organization. It must be crafted to suit your organization and meet the specific needs of your sales staff.
A playbook will typically contain information about your organization, the organizational ideology, the products and services, and your sales philosophy.
Playbooks also provide brand guidelines that guide your sales team to use tools for maximum results effectively.
From step-by-step plays to detailed buyer personas and qualification criteria, a playbook will equip your sales team to deal with almost any client and scenario.
Let’s look at some of the most important parts of a sales playbook and what should be included (and excluded) from each.
Before you get into the details of call scripts, and play-by-play scenarios, your team must know what the organization is all about. The new hires should understand the company overview and what it stands for to be able to align their goals with the company.
Some of the important information in this section includes:
- Company overview and sales strategy: Your employees must understand the overall sales strategy of your brand. They must be able to find answers to questions like why your company exists and how you solve your customers' problems.
- Mission and value: It is important to have your team know your values and what motivates you as a company. It is important to drive the mission statement of your company home in this section.
Roles and Responsibilities
Every sales team member must understand their role in the sales cycle and have a transparent view of their day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. The playbook must lay out the ground rules explaining the target quotas so the team can prepare a strategy to hit those targets.
The worst thing for a sales team is to have a moving target. When the team knows what is expected of them, they will eventually struggle to keep up, and the whole sales process will crumble like a house of cards.
One of the most important factors driving sales is picking the right lead to focus on. If your entire team focuses on low-quality information, there is less chance of a conversion. On the other hand, if your team can identify sales leads that are more likely to convert, they can produce much better results with less input.
The buyer personas in the sales playbook must encapsulate as many details as possible about your ideal customer. Everything from job titles and organizational structures to the possible pain points, every detail about your potential buyer must be in your playbook.
Let your team know when bringing certain people into the buying conversation can help. For instance, it might be better to bring in the VP of marketing to close certain deals.
Good sales leaders have faith in their team. You hired your team because you believe in their abilities to close deals. Letting them decide how to manage their time and sequence their tasks allows them to work flexibly.
They can be more creative when they know that they have the independence to set their pace and make their schedules.
No two salespeople are the same. Everyone has their strong and weak points. Some people are great at drafting emails, others are great at phone calls, and others excel in face-to-face meetings.
While you might have guidelines in the playbook on the best practices, it is important to let your team members know when to let them go. Having the option to find a path that is comfortable for them might yield a better result than following a rigid way that goes against their instincts.
Products and Pricing
Your sales reps must know your product and services inside out. How can you expect them to sell something they know very little about? Hence, your sales playbook must have as much detail about your product or service as possible.
This section of your playbook must contain information like the key value proposition of your products, the specific use cases, and details on pricing.
The last thing you want from your sales staff is to end up in a situation where they don’t know about the product they are selling.
Imagine if a client has a question about a product and your salesperson cannot answer it; what impression will it create in the client's mind?
You want your salespeople to be fully prepared with the answer to every possible question that a client might have.
Your Sales Process
Perhaps the most important section of your sales playbook, the sales process must be clear and transparent. It lets your salespeople know what they need to do to be successful, from prospecting, lead generation, selling, outreach, and closing the sale.
Your sales playbook must contain the details about whom your plan to sell to and what to say in each potential scenario.
Benefits, monetary or otherwise, can be the biggest motivators for any sales team. Make sure your team knows what they are entitled to get as benefits and keep the information as transparent as possible.
Make sure your team knows what they can get if they achieve 50%, 100%, or more of their target goals.
If your team members know their incentives, they might be more inclined to meet their goals. It also gives them the indication that you value the hard work that they have put into closing a sale.
One of the most important parts of a sales playbook is messaging. New team members need all the assistance they can get from sales managers to start their journey in the sales process. This playbook section needs to go into as much detail as possible about every sales process step.
Ensure you include every email template, call script, meeting agenda, troubleshooting, and everything in between. Your new hires need as much help as possible to prepare them for what is to come.
If your playbook has all these resources, your team will spend more time making the sale than trying different strategies.
Another thing that works wonders when included in the playbook is call recordings of successful and failed sales attempts. You can also add a few live demos to help your recruit to understand the sales process and get into the groove faster.
CRM reporting is a big part of the workload of a salesperson. Use this section of your playbook to define each stage and how to customize dashboards etc., of your CRM software. Your team must be clear on what you expect from CRM reporting and when you will be reviewing their opportunities.
A sales playbook must also be able to serve as a rich treasure trove of customer services, white papers, testimonials and sales plays. You should refresh this section of the playbook often.
As you collect more data on your customers from your marketing and customer success teams, you refine the customer profile and help your sales team find the best sales plays to target a particular type of customer.
The content library containing all this information should be tagged for easy discovery and laid out to enable users to learn from the success stories.
Performance metrics are important, but it is more important to understand which metric is more relevant to access the performance of your sales team. Revenue generated is the biggest indicator of success or failure, but it is not the be-all and end-all of the performance indicators.
Other metrics, such as time to the first opportunity or time to first close, can also be added to the mix to create a comprehensive evaluation matrix.
If your team knows how their performance will be evaluated, they will work hard to ensure that their goals are met, and they hit their targets more often.
It is equally important to allow the team to evaluate the organization and its practices. Performance evaluation is a two-way street that works only if the flow is from both directions.
How to Write an Effective Sales Playbook?
Once you understand all the components of a great sales playbook, it is time to compile one. Remember that this document is meant to act as the single most important resource for your sales team. It should have something for your existing, seasoned professionals and recruits.
Include all sales plays that you feel might help your sales team. It might get a bit overwhelming to begin, but once you have whittled it down to the important parts, things will become much easy.
It would be best if you had input from all the stakeholders before you start building your playbook. Ensure that a consensus is reached at every step of the sales process. Once you get the approval and directionality from the management, involve your sales staff in building the playbook.
Your sales staff is the one who is going to be using the resource. So, their demands and suggestions must be incorporated into the playbook.
Remember, it will take time to build a great playbook, especially if you haven’t made one before. It is a painstaking and, at times, frustrating journey, but there is a lot at stake here.
Your playbook will shape your sales team, and the success, or lack thereof, might be boiled down to a faulty playbook.
So, take all the time that is needed.
If you already have a document with a semblance of a playbook, use it to refine it. Ensure to include key performance indicators and sales metrics.
A sales playbook is a continually evolving piece of work. You must ensure that it is constantly updated with the inputs from your sales and marketing teams.
Prepare to make several changes to polish the content, especially during the initial days. You might even need to start a particular section from scratch.
Now that you have a completed playbook, it is time to distribute it to the team. For most groups and businesses, the playbook will always live in the cloud, and hence, distribution is not the Achilles heel; the implementation is.
Once you have the playbook in the hands of your staff, it is important to ensure that they are using it to drive business. If your sales playbook cannot bring the sales team on the same page, you need to include something.
Sales Playbook Template
Sales playbooks can have different patterns and organizations. While you can create a sales playbook from scratch, it is possible to use a sales playbook template to get a head start.
When using a sales playbook template to prepare your own sales playbook, ensure that template has everything you need.
Every organization is different, and so is every sales team. You need to pick a template that works best for your organization.
While a sales playbook template can serve as a great starting point, you should not restrict yourself to the template's contents and format.
As you begin to formulate your playbook, you will see how you can get the job done using an in-house sales playbook template that combines more than one template to create a document that works the best.
Using a Knowledge Base to Share Your Sales Playbook
Creating a sales playbook is the first step. The next step is to share it with your sales staff. It is crucial to make your sales playbook accessible to all your team members. Your team members are more likely to use it if it is readily available.
Here are a few ways you can make your sales playbook more accessible to your team members:
Create a central internal knowledge base within your organization and make a digital copy of your playbook to be shared there.
Alternatively, you can also store it on shared drives or intranet locations.
If you like to have it old-school, you can print the playbook and hand it to your team as a physical copy.
The best way to make your playbook accessible for your team is to store it in an internal knowledge base. It is more secure and easy to access in electronic form. Besides, it will be much easy to edit and amend the playbook if it is available electronically.
Your playbook should always be a dynamic document. It needs to change and evolve with your team. It needs to add resources and get rid of obsolete and failed strategies.
Takeaways: Make the Most Out of a Sales Playbook
Creating a sales playbook is a huge undertaking. When creating a perfect playbook and working with all stakeholders, much work is involved.
However, creating a playbook is only part of the game to boost your sales. It is a document that keeps evolving.
The more you break your sales playbook down and rebuild it, the better it will serve your team. Treat your playbook as a living document that needs to be upgraded and changed.
A playbook needs to reflect what is working and eliminate what’s not. Once your team implements the playbook, it will become clear whether the strategies work.
It would be best if you were brave enough to scrap the things that are not giving you the desired result and include newer stuff with better potential.
Standardizing your sales process has a huge advantage for your team and ensures that the process works like a well-oiled machine.
A business playbook can go a long way in establishing this standard working order. You might need to rebuild parts of the playbook now and then, but once you arrive at a formula that works, it can propel you to the stratosphere.
To make the most of your customized sales playbook, you need it accessible to your team. It would be best if you had software to store your playbook that allows your team to access it whenever they need it easily.
The right software will also allow the users to easily update and edit the playbook to keep it fresh and relevant. This is where the internal knowledge base comes in. You can kickstart your knowledge base with powerful software from Helpjuice.
With amazing customizability, integrations, and intelligent analytics, Helpjuice can help you build a secure and easy-to-access knowledge base that takes your sales playbook to the next level.