Sales Playbook: An Overview

Directors need a screenplay to close the scene. You need a sales playbook to close the sale.

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What comes to your mind when you think of the word “playbook?” No doubt the image of a successful politician, athlete, or CEO with all of their ducks in a row comes to mind. Someone with an established playbook knows what they’re doing will work — because they’ve done it time and time again. For a sales leader, the sales playbook is key for success.

What is a sales playbook?

A sales playbook is a guide containing selected methodologies and sales processes to be applied company-wide. It incorporates best practices and strategies at different points of the sale so that any rep knows the next best action, whatever the deal’s stage. A great playbook even contains specific resources such as scripts, email templates, negotiation questions, and buyer pain points.

How to use your sales playbook

Your sales playbook is your go-to guide for all things sales. It should be filled with the strategies, tactics, and resources you need to close more deals and grow your business.

But a sales playbook is only as good as the person using it. To get the most out of your playbook, you need to know how and when to use it. Here’s how:

  • Use it as a reference, not a script. Your sales playbook should be a living document you refer to often, not a script you memorize and recite verbatim. Use it as a guide to help you customize your sales approach for each prospect.
  • Use it to plan and prepare for sales calls. Before every sales call, look at your playbook and use it to plan and prepare for the call. What resources do you need? What objections might come up? What are your goals for the call?
  • Use it to debrief after sales calls. After every sales call, take some time to review your notes and compare them to the playbook. Did you hit all of your goals? What could you have done better? What will you do differently next time?
  • Use it to stay focused on your goals. When you’re in the middle of a busy sales cycle, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of your goals. Use your sales playbook to remind you what you’re working towards, and keep yourself focused on the prize.
  • Use it to train new team members and quickly get them up to speed. Having a playbook will help ensure that everyone on your team uses the same sales strategies and follows the same process.
  • Use your sales playbook as a way to track your progress and identify areas for improvement. Look back at your closed deals each quarter and compare them to your goals. What worked well? What didn’t work? What could you have done differently?
  • Use it to adjust your strategies. As your business grows and changes, so should your sales playbook. Use it as a tool to regularly review and update your sales strategies. As you close more deals and learn from your successes (and failures), you’ll be able to fine-tune your playbook and make it even more effective.
  • Use it as a resource, not a crutch. Your sales playbook should be a helpful resource you can turn to when you need guidance, not a crutch that you rely on too heavily. If you find yourself constantly referencing your playbook, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your sales process.

Why it’s important for every sales team to have a playbook

In short, this document makes the sales process repeatable, scalable, and successful across the entire team. Breaking them down, some of the specific benefits of implementing a sales playbook are that…

  • It accelerates and facilitates onboarding. Training new salespeople is so much easier when there’s clear-cut information about customer habits, what to say to them, typical pain points — and anything else that new reps would otherwise be forced to learn as they go.
  • Best sales techniques are propagated. If a rep is performing exceptionally well, their sales play can be added to the sales playbook as a go-to approach. Building off of best-practices is an ideal way to ensure success is scaled up through the whole team
  • It saves sellers valuable time. A well-assembled sales playbook with sales enablement takes the guesswork out of selling because it documents every scenario. It also saves salespeople from having to think up outreach content or brainstorm questions: instead, they can focus on nurturing deals.Sales productivity metrics

Before 2020, selling almost always had an in-person element. During the COVID-19 era, however, 90% of sales have moved to digital platforms, according to McKinsey. With so many sales going remote in the past 2 years, having a sales playbook is more helpful now than ever for keeping teams on track from a distance.

Sales playbook components

A well-crafted sales playbook can help you boost your team’s productivity and increase sales performance.

But what exactly should you include in your sales playbook? Here are some essential components to consider:

  • Lead generation strategies: How will you generate leads? What are some best practices for lead generation?
  • Qualification criteria: Who makes a good lead? What qualification criteria can you use to determine whether a lead is worth pursuing?
  • Sales processes: What steps should you take when pursuing a sale? What are some best practices for each stage of the sales process?
  • Objection handling: What objections might prospects raise? How can you overcome them?
  • Closing techniques: How can you increase your chances of closing a deal? What are some best practices for closing a sale?
  • Sales performance metrics: What metric will you use to measure sales performance? How will you track progress towards your sales goals?

By including these components in your sales playbook, you can set your team up for success. They’ll know exactly what to do to close more deals and hit their targets.

How to create a sales playbook

When creating a sales playbook, consider the specific needs of your business. What are your buyer personas like? What are your sales goals? What are you selling? What unique sales plays do you need to include? Then follow a few general steps to bring it together. Remember, an effective sales playbook is easy to digest, consisting of repeatable, winning sales processes.

1. Review and update your existing sales process

Your sales playbook and sales process go hand in hand. Make sure your sales processes are established so that the playbook can be created accordingly.

2. Work out involved individuals — and align them

Any teams that can contribute to the playbook or that will benefit from using it in the future should have some stake in its creation. These people will likely be sales reps, sales VPs, subject matter experts, and marketing team members that specialize in content and sales enablement.

3. Define goals

What do you want to achieve with this playbook? What do you want it to include? Outline which aspects of the sales process to cover and any hurdles reps might have that can be addressed in the playbook. Decide when it should be finalized and how it should be developed in the future.

4. Gather buyer personas

Include information about what a typical buyer looks like plus how to sell to them. This also helps reps to quality leads early on.

5. Figure out which plays to include

Whether it’s a lead qualification play, demo play, closing play, or more: Anticipate what’s needed for your specific business needs.

6. Provide ample training

No matter how good your sales playbook is, sellers won’t be able to apply it without in-depth knowledge of the product. This goes alongside playbook creation as a step essential in optimizing the efficiency of the document — and to boost sales productivity.

7. Execute your sales playbook and track progress

Circulate the document! Analyze the success of the playbook, gather feedback, and adjust as necessary.

Sales playbook KPI to track

A key aspect of the final step is tracking sales KPI. To maintain a usable sales playbook, consider what metrics are important. These might be…

  • Closing ratio
  • Time to close
  • Win rate
  • Average deal size
  • Customer retention rate

…or all of the above.

Expectations, how performance will be measured, and the importance of each metric should all be clear to the playbook’s audience.

Sales Playbook examples

Despite knowing now what a playbook should include, it might still be hard to picture what a playbook looks like without having seen a sales playbook example.
Explore the outline of the modern sales playbook:

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Depending on the steps taken above according to your unique business needs, a playbook can look a lot of ways. It shouldn’t be a rigid document that locks your sales team into a box with no room to move; rather, it should provide just the right amount of guidance to help them thrive.

A cold outreach play might look something like this sales playbook template.

img-sales-playbook

Sales playbook software can help you get started on one, track progress or deviations, and signal sellers to the next best action. Revenue Grid has put together a thorough whitepaper to teach sales leaders more about implementing a sales playbook, complete with outlines, sales playbook examples, and helpful hints on getting your team on the same page. Download the whitepaper today to learn more.

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