What is a sales playbook?
A sales playbook compiles best practices, strategies and tactics to outline what sales teams should do during various phases of the selling process and stages of the buyer’s journey. It takes the collective already proven wisdom and experience of the organization and puts it all together in a consolidated handbook.
In football, teams have a playbook that details all of their plays. There’s a play for every situation. Teams read, study and practice it over and over again. As games unfold, players have muscle memory from practicing and studying so they can perform better. If a situation requires a new strategy, it’s added to the playbook and practice times.
The sales playbook works in much the same way. The best sales playbooks consolidate all of your sales strategies, pitches, presentations, call scripts, email templates and sales tools in one book so that team members can draw from it when needed. They’ll have sequences of plays depending on specific situations and sales stages.
“Good teams play, but great teams run a system of plays.” - Bain & Company
A robust sales playbook takes time to put together, but it provides multiple benefits to increase sales performance and sales effectiveness, including:
- Providing pre-built sales enablement materials
- Outlining best strategies and the most effective selling techniques
- Making training for new hires easier
- Freeing up time for reps
- Speeding up sales cycles
- Continuous improvement
- Increased revenue
- Driving a best buyer experience
The best and most productive salespeople know it takes a strategic approach to grow sales. That’s where the playbook and sales plays are invaluable tools.
“Sales teams that use a sales playbook are 33% more likely to be high performers with win rates exceeding 50%.” - Salesforce
What to include in a sales playbook?
An easy yet underrated method to empower your sales team is to upgrade and modernize your sales playbook. A comprehensive playbook increases sales agility and adapts to evolving buyer behavior because it encapsulates sales best practices and illustrates them to sales people in a concise manner. Sales reps know what they should do and the most effective response to a variety of scenarios they might encounter.
A sales playbook should have elements that provide the information sales and marketing teams need to be effective. It’s this framework that creates results.
“Without a solid framework in place, even your best intentions won’t amount to measurable results” –Pitcher
An effective sales playbook will include:
Overview: An overview of the company, how the sales organization functions, lines of reporting, expectations, teams and targets.
Plays: The plays that will be included and the subsequent playbook for each play.
Products and services: Each product line or service needs supporting materials that sales and marketing teams may need. This should include one-sheets, use cases, pricing and industry information. Ensuring this information is available digitally and is easily accessible through omnichannel marketing for sales reps to deliver to customers is more effective according to research by McKinsey & Company that found, “roughly two in three buyers prefer remote human interaction or digital self-service.”
Sales process: Playbooks are most successful at impacting sales performance when they detail the entire sales process from start to finish. From outreach to the first contract, to every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey, to conversion and post-sale strategies.
KPIs: This section should encompass your best practices along with clear, modernized KPIs that align with business outcomes and can be measured. Sales teams need to know how they will be evaluated beyond sales revenue. For example, if you know based on data that sales reps making more than 30 calls per day outperform their peers, you should share this data and track calls.
Buyer personas: Most sales playbooks have one or more buyer personas, but you can level up by including your ideal customer personas (ICPs). This can help sales and marketing teams to stay focused on targets and develop leads. Having a list of the top five criteria to identify your ideal customers will not only help with who you should target but will clarify when to bring them into the sales process.
Lead qualification: Along with buyer personas, your sales team also needs lead qualification criteria. This helps teams understand what qualifies as a lead, a sales qualified opportunity or a high-value lead. It also helps sales teams to understand where leads should be based on behavior and time in the pipeline and when it’s time to cut your losses.
Sales enablement materials: Sales and marketing teams should be consistent in the resources and materials they use during the qualifying and nurturing process. Everything your teams need to drive conversion should be in this section, including case studies, ROI calculators, comparison sheets, demo videos, social content, email marketing tools, etc.
A solid playbook creates the necessary alignment between sales and marketing to create a cohesive and consistent strategy.
“Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.” -MarketingProfs
Relevant success metrics: KPIs for each sales play
A critical part of managing sales effectiveness is to upgrade how sales teams measure and track KPIs and then use this data to refine and improve sales plays. Within each play, your playbook will track different KPIs to do precisely that.
You’ll want to choose your KPIs carefully and focus on those that tie directly to actions. In other words, focus on the KPIs that matter and not just an overview that measures activity. You want to measure results, so you can fine-tune what works and build a sustainable sales machine.
“While a majority of organizations run sales plays, almost two-thirds of those organizations say they’re not highly effective at tracking and measuring the impact of those plays.”
-Sales Enablement Analytics Report 2020-2021, Sales Enablement Pro
Scorecards: What are scorecards, and how to use them?
Scorecards are a way to track sales performance at the team and individual levels. It also provides you with an objective way to compare performance among team members.
Sales managers need to define what metrics or combination of metrics demonstrates a team member is performing at, above or below expectations. While the data and metrics used are typically the same for everyone, the measurement against their goals can be customized. For example, your revenue expectations for a seasoned salesperson will be higher than a newbie. However, the scorecard would rate each against their individual revenue goals.
Much of the scorecard analysis can be built using your technology by measuring specific KPIs from your CRM and sales enablement platform.
Why sales coaching is essential for your sales play
According to Gartner research, B2B sales reps forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of training, and 87% will forget it within a month.
Effective sales coaching is key to developing sustainable revenue. Sales coaching positively impacts the sales process by providing ongoing feedback, helping sales teams build skills and knowledge and supporting team members to grow and develop.
Sales plays help managers coach more effectively. With a sales playbook, managers can help guide salespeople on which tools to use at which times. Based on closed-loop performance feedback, optimal strategies can be developed and coached. For example, with proven scripts, it’s easier to discuss common objections and how to overcome them.
Coaching is a vital part of your sales enablement strategy to continuously improve sales effectiveness. With the right coaching tool, you can track and measure progress against goals to help the sales team meet targets. With the help of Pitcher Coaching, you can prepare, coach and train your sales force to use your key messaging more effectively as they engage with both customers and prospects.
How technology can help
Having the right tech in place is key to making your sales playbook successful. Your playbook must be connected to a sales enablement system to track performance. When sales teams can see which content converts better at each stage, they can continuously refine the sales process for peak sales performance.
Each sales play has a series of stages that mirror the buyer's journey. It’s essential to understand what’s working and what’s not at each touchpoint. Theright sales enablement platform can not only put your sales playbook to use but scale your business using automation and process optimization. This significantly reduces the complexity of your sales ops and closes the marketing loop by providing actionable insights.
This allows you to personalize the customer experience using adaptive content. This helps optimize each interaction. With automation, you can produce a personalized, customized buyer experience at each stage and do it at scale.
Pitcher’s Experience Builder guides sellers based on collected customer data, sentiment and previous success factors surfaced in the next best action-based recommendations.
“High-performing sales teams are 2.3 times more likely than underperforming teams to use guided selling.” - Salesforce
How to create customized sales plays
With sales playbooks, salespeople don’t have to start from scratch each time. There are tools that have been proven to work and optimized tactics at each touchpoint. However, using the same email or presentation is only part of the plan. Each piece needs to be customized, especially when you’re dealing with high-value prospects and sales-qualified opportunities.
With the right templates, sales teams can quickly fill in the correct information and personalize presentations. While the bulk of the presentation may be boilerplate with optimized messaging, the template provides opportunities to customize slide decks to include customer logos, challenges, initiative, case studies and demonstrate how products and services provide solutions for specific buyer pain points.
Custom product demos
Product demos that use prospect data or use cases are more effective than the traditional product walk-through. By demonstrating precisely how your solution works in your prospect’s business or industry, you will increase engagement. This helps prospects envision how your product works in their environment rather than yours.
Gartner calls this “champion content,” targeted specifically for the person in your prospect’s organization interested in what you’re selling and will be the driver to convince other stakeholders of your value. Not only can templated content be customized to the champion, but you can also provide your champion with the customized content they need to sell your solution internally.
Sales playbooks guide sales and marketing teams through the entire sales lifecycle, but they only work when there is alignment. This requires:
Careful analysis of the sales playbook by both sales and marketing
Continuous measurement to drive continuous improvement
The right technology to drive sales plays and optimize performance
Executive alignment and support
2022 trends to watch out for
In 2022, B2B sales leaders need to rethink how they approach their sales process. B2B sales demand a more strategic and data-driven approach. It requires cross-functional alignment, leveraging data and accelerating sales enablement efforts.
Above all, it requires a customer-first sales approach and an agile framework to adapt quickly to changing customer behavior. A playbook must create a solid plan but with the flexibility to pivot to meet evolving customer needs.
Contact us today to learn more about how the pitcher sales enablement platform can accelerate sales for your organization.
To read the first part of the sales playbook best practices, download the ebook version here.
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