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Obviously, top sales executives have their tried-and-tested tactics for closing deals.

And sharing those “secrets” in the form of a playbook has been standard practice among sales teams for decades.

But as we head into 2020, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Does the concept of a sales playbook still make sense in the digital age?

And if so, how do you make sure your team sticks to your gameplan?

We decided to find out for ourselves.

9 Sales experts open up about sales playbooks.

We asked sales professionals to give us the scoop on what playbooks mean to today’s teams.

Whether you’re on the fence about your own playbook or just want a bit of perspective, these answers don’t disappoint!


Bob Perkins

Founder & Chairman – AA-ISP,
(American Association of Inside Sales Professionals)

Playbooks is just another phrase word for “process” and “metrics”. We now know that operational adherence and following metrics does not correlate to high sales performance. (Note the AA-ISP Conde Report -2018). It’s a wake up call. We keep looking for answers in the numbers while setting aside our most important asset… the person. Enabling tech such as focuses on people actions vs the lagging indicators… that’s a good first step towards placing the achievement of REVENUE goals on the person, the personalization, and the quality vs on how many dials are made!


Richard Harris

Founder – The Harris Consulting Group

Playbooks are only as valuable as the line manager and rep are willing to be held accountable to them.

Some plays can be very specific (scripts), other plays need to be treated as an outline.


Mike Kunkle

Vice President,
VP, Sales Enablement Services – SPARXiQ

Many playbooks are useless. Not because the concept of playbooks isn’t sound, and generally not because the content isn’t good (although occasionally, relevancy or effectiveness *is* a problem). The most common challenge, as you point out, is adoption. There are multiple possible root causes for lack of adoption, ranging from content relevancy, to manager buy-in, to ease of reps finding what they need when they need it, to being updated (or out of date), to being usable. Playbooks should also be wrapped into the fabric of the business… included in onboarding, discussed at sales meetings, used in pipeline management and opportunity management meetings, and in pre-call planning. They need to be coached to. It isn’t about making or using playbooks, it needs to become “how we do things around here” and the integration of best practices into daily operations and workflow. And that takes effort well beyond designing, developing or publishing a playbook, and that’s why most aren’t producing the results they should.


Dan Swift

CEO – Empire Selling

Playbooks are just one of the multitude of things a sales person needs to be successful. We will always ‘make them our own’ because as humans one size does not fit all. The new member on the team needs playbooks to get a fast start. The more established member on the team generally has a process that works for them and might only leverage a playbook to quickly figure out how to sell a new product capability.


Elinor Stutz

Founding Member – Sales Enablement Society
Motivational Speaker, Sales Trainer,
Best-Selling Author – Smooth Sale

I believe playbooks to be starting points, but similar to scripts they omit spontaneity, or speaking to the uniqueness of the person in front of them, that is often needed.


Brynne Tillman

CEO, LinkedIn Author, LinkedIn Sales Trainer – Social Sales Link
Founding Member – Women in Digital USA
Host – The Sales Experts Channel

Our clients live the custom playbooks we create for them. It not only helps them know exactly what to do every day but what to say. A good playbook can be the most powerful resource a sales rep can have.


Martin Heibel

Founder & Managing Director – Ciara

Based on my experience as a sales leader playbooks tend to have great content and structure but are very hard to implement, because they are disconnected from the actual work flow of sales reps. With conversational assistants such as Ciara playbooks become actionable, specifically on phone calls. In fact, actionable playbooks allow for faster onboarding, more confidence when selling, and scaling teams at high quality levels.


Oscar Llurba Garcia

Price Managing Specialist – Optimus Price

I think the point of a playbook is to have metrics, if you don’t know if your team is using the playbook then it is pointless because you won’t have metrics and therefore you won’t improve the playbook over time.
Just tell your team to write down the prospect’s responses and which questions work and which doesn’t and why.


Josh West

Enterprise Account Executive – Loop1

You have to listen to rep calls and grade them according to the playbook. Wins and loses. Finding a way to incentivize closer adherence can be tricky. Hopefully you have a rep that is a champion of the playbook and is a top performer.


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