What is a Sales Playbook?

What is a sales playbookA Sales Playbook is a guide for your sales team to standardize sales methodology, conversations, and best practices for your business. You may have multiple playbooks if you serve different customer bases with alternative approaches.

What Is B2E?

B2B stands for business-to-business selling. B2C standards for business-to-consumer selling. B2E is meant to imply that this guide will work for any type of sales team.

Do I Need A Sales Playbook?

Developing a practical sales playbook for B2B sellers is one of the most efficient ways of improving sales performance. A sales playbook, appropriately done, should enable every salesperson to carry out their job as successfully as possible, every time. So, should you create one? Of course, you should, in an ideal world. However, do not develop a sales playbook unless one Enablement professional owns maintenance. In general, maintaining the sales playbook will not be a full-time job. But, if no one owns maintenance, it will soon become an outdated and useless document. Worse yet, inaccuracies will reduce team effectiveness and cost you business.

How to build a great sales playbook

Building a sales playbook is a collaborative effort. You will want to analyze and assess data from different departments, which is why you will want to put together a team to build your ideal sales playbook. While every company is different, there are at least four departments whose input will be invaluable.

Sales

At a minimum, include one of your top sales Managers. In addition, to ensure a winning sales playbook, have the following additional people from your sales team.
  • Include a mix of experienced and new sales reps.
  • Include someone from the revenue or sales operations team.
As the primary consumers of the sales playbooks and the sales plays within, this group must be active participants.

Subject matter experts.

This broad term covers everyone from IT to customer success teams, field technicians, and product designers. You should include anyone with insights relevant to a seller or customer. These experts often provide:
  • Valuable insight into the best use of CRM.
  • Deep understanding of your products and solutions.
  • Responses for common objections and questions.
  • Insights necessary to improve the hand-off between the sales department and the service department.

C-suite

Having the input of executives can help align the sales goals with the business’s overarching goals. And, having input from the top has been shown to help a playbook become adopted faster by the entire organization.

Marketing

The marketing team can help outline brand guidelines and messaging for your company’s solutions when it comes to customer data and content. The marketing team should also provide vital information on:
  • Customer pain points your business can solve.
  • Your value proposition based on these pain points.
  • The ideal customer profile for your solutions.
  • A breakdown of critical buyer personas.
In addition to these four departments, you need support from another person or team to deliver a good sales playbook. Who? Remember earlier I mentioned you need someone responsible for the maintenance of the sales playbook. This person should oversee the project, facilitate the necessary cross-functional collaboration, and keep all stakeholders apprised of the overall project status.

The best sales playbooks include relevant content

Now, we know how to build a sales playbook, there’s the question of what goes in it. With all these departments working together on this playbook, what type of content will help your sales team be successful? A great sales playbook should at least include the following information:
  1. An overview of the buying process and buyer’s journey for the various customers to whom you sell.
  2. Qualification checklists
  3. Discovery talk tracks (check out Meghann Misiak’s conversation on MEDDIC and the discovery process).
  4. An overview of the various stages of the sales process
  5. Best practices and key messaging for each step of the sales process
  6. Skills tips for each stage
  7. Sales tools for each stage
  8. Exit criteria for each stage
  9. Critical templates include sample emails and email scripts, competitive battle cards, call scripts, etcetera.
  10. The forecast category criteria and definitions
However, the best playbooks should also include:

Company information

This section is where you want to outline your company’s strategy, mission, values, org chart, training schedule, and individual roles and responsibilities. This section needs to include as much detail as possible. You want to ensure your sales reps know everything necessary about the company for them to hit the ground running. And to make sure they know what the expectations of their role are within the company.

Pricing and products

Depending on how many products you have and their complexity, it may be beneficial to have a separate playbook for product offerings with different personas and buying processes. However, if that’s not necessary, then this section of the playbook needs to answer: what products you sell, how they work, what they do, and (most importantly) why customers should care.

Commission structure

Some companies have a commission structure or a compensation/bonus structure. And this must be clearly and explicitly outlined. If your company is salary only, this too needs to be explicitly laid out.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

This section is where you outline which objectives you want your reps to focus on the most. These KPIs can include: the number of qualified leads generated, average deal size, and time to close. Resources There are two types of resources you should include: internal content and external content. The internal content—the material to help a salesperson—can be relevant articles, pitch decks, training content, and battle cards. External content refers to material that you can share with customers. External content includes white papers, case studies, sales sheets, product presentations, blog posts, and articles.

Measuring the effectiveness of your playbook

A sales playbook, appropriately built, should contribute to, at minimum, six key sales metrics:
  1. Improved sales (a higher win rate and larger deal sizes)
  2. Higher customer satisfaction
  3. Superior retention of high-performing salespeople
  4. Increased team morale
  5. Increase productivity
  6. Faster ramp-up of new hires
Getting the data for these metrics is vital to the success of the sales playbook and, more importantly, your sales reps’ success. To get the data can be as simple as short surveys sent to both reps and customers and setting up dashboards in your CRM and other reporting systems. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your sales playbooks should be easy to use, with easy access for your busy sales team. The most effective and successful playbooks are easy-to-use, concise, and have step-by-step instructions for closing deals. Keep this in mind: the sales playbook is not a static object. It must evolve and change as your products and company change. Continually updating and improving your sales playbook will ensure it stays evergreen, relevant, and effective. This document provide an effective way to support new reps and veterans.

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