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How to Create a Winning Sales Playbook

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How to Create a Winning Sales Playbook

Imagine for a moment your favorite sports team is about to start their championship game. The coach unceremoniously tosses out the playbook, tells the players that they probably know what they’re doing, and says he thinks they can “wing it” to a win. 

A highly unlikely scenario with an even higher unlikelihood for success. 

Much like athletes on a sports team, sales reps at a company are also a team. In order for a sales team to be successful, they need cohesive training and guidance or “coaching” to be successful at what they do. 

That training needs to be standardized to keep everyone on the same page and in line with company best practices and objectives. Enter the sales playbook. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps for creating a sales playbook for your team. We’ll discuss what it is, why it’s so important, and what it should include.

What is a Sales Playbook?

A sales playbook is a guidance document that lays out a common framework for the way your team should operate. In the same way, a sports team has their own tactics and methods for winning, a playbook outlines the sales team’s processes, strategies, and methodology for scoring, or in this case, selling prospective clients. 

It not only gives an overview of processes and resources but breaks down the sales process into what can be considered individual components of a “play” or sale such as: 

  • understanding the business and/or industry your in and the products and services your company offers
  • creating buyer personas (or customer profiles)
  • sales call scripts and email templates
  • resources and tools
  • how to engage with prospective clients across industries
  • differentiators 
  • rebuttal responses

We’ll break it down all of these components in-depth later on, but first, it’s important to know why it’s so important to do this in the first place. 

The Benefits of Having a Playbook for Your Sales Team

Seasoned salesmen know that sales don’t follow a hard and fast script. Unfortunately, real-life doesn’t operate in predictable scenarios. So, sales reps need education on how to deal with the possibilities that can occur during the selling process. 

We can go on and on all day about the benefits of a playbook, but let’s break it down into 3 main benefits.

  • Streamlined, standardized messaging and resources. 

Even if you were bad at math, this formula is pretty straightforward: consistency=efficiency. Having the same messaging and resources available across the board means there’s no confusion about roles, responsibilities, expectations, and goals. 

Sales reps don’t need to spend endless hours searching for tools and resources or creating their own content (which may or may not be effective) leaving them more time to focus on selling.

  • No need to reinvent the wheel. Everyone knows what works. Rinse and repeat!

It’s great that top-sellers have come up with something that really works, but it would be a shame not to impart all that wisdom to everyone else on the team. A great sales playbook can help everyone on the team grow in their ability to sell effectively.

  • Quicker, more effective training. 

Training can be time and labor-intensive, but it makes even less sense to throw new hires into the deep end and hope they end up Olympic swimmers. Throwing spaghetti at the wall until you see what sticks wastes a lot of time and money. 

Are Sales Playbooks Effective?

The typical ramp-up time for new hires can be upwards of 6 months, but a documented, proven process can cut that time in half, if not more.

Playbooks also come in handy as a nice cheat sheet to refresh seasoned members of the sales team, and can be updated as more effective strategies are realized or new tools are acquired. 

Can you guess what the highest performing companies, in terms of revenue, provide their sales teams? If you guessed, “a sales playbook,” you hit it out of the park! According to a Hubspot study, the more successful companies were twice as likely to have a sales playbook than those who did not.

A study done by the Harvard Business Review found that companies who outlined their sales processes grew revenue 18% faster.

According to Salesforce, companies that follow a well-defined sales process are 33% more likely to be high performers. The win rate exceeds 50% for two-thirds of companies that have a defined process in place.

If sales were a competitive sport (and many SDRs like to think that it is) the sales playbook would be the foundation of a winning strategy, much like it is in sports.  

How to Document Your Sales Process in Your Playbook

Now let’s talk about the elements to include in a winning sales playbook and why each is important to your success. 

Company Overview

Introduce new hires and reacquaint seasoned pros with your business. A quick recap of your history, your mission, vision, and values statement, your value proposition, and an organization chart.

Your Sales Methodology 

Your sales methodology should outline and define your company’s best sales practices and how sales reps should approach each phase of the sales process. Include effective techniques used by top-performing SDRs and key players in the company. Include BANT criteria (Budget, Authority, Needs, Time) to help them zero in on the most promising prospects.

Buyer Personas 

Include your buyer persona(s) which sketch out what your ideal customer looks like and how they might behave during the buying process.  Use information like job titles, pain points, and info around the buyer’s journey. Include use case examples that will help demonstrate and give context for sales reps. 

Outreach Methods 

Once your sales team knows who they are trying to reach, it’s important to give plenty of direction on how to effectively reach them. Create a guide to consistent messaging with email templates, phone, and voicemail scripts, positioning statements, lead qualification questions, text messaging, social media messaging, and follow-up content. 

CRM Tips 

Whether your team uses Salesforce or other CRM sales tools, reps need to know what exactly you’re tracking and what they’re responsible for so that you can maintain a reliable database. Outline what reporting should be done daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and walk reps through creating and analyzing reports.  

Other Tools

Each stage in the sales process requires tools and a guide to using them. Use this section to give sales reps a guide to the resources they have. Here are some examples of tools you might include: 

  • Data enrichment and prospecting (LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Discoverorg, ZoomInfo, Clearbit, BBB, NAICS) 
  • Sales engagement tools (Outreach, Salesloft, Buzzbuilder, Yesware) 
  • Chatbot tools (Drift, Intercom) 
  • Presentation tools (Canva, Brandcast, PowerPoint)
  • Video conferencing (Zoom, Demio, Google Hangouts)

How to Handle Objections 

Even though reps use scripts, prospects don’t. Preparing your SDR to be able to handle the potential responses a prospect might give is essential to their success. Handling objections is an art form, and reps need training so their improv doesn’t take them away from the main goal. 

Adding challenger messaging to your playbook can help reps overcome risk aversion and push back assertively to hesitant prospects.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)  

Including KPIs can help your SDRs stay on the right path by clarifying expectations and identifying the goal post (i.e qualified leads) and obstacles (i.e. bounce rates).

Resources

You wouldn’t send your team onto the field or court without all the equipment they need, right? So be sure to give SDRs access to any helpful resources. These could include sales content, case studies, testimonials, whitepapers, and other sales enablement assets. 

Compensation 

The best way to motivate SDRs is to include details about their compensation and bonus scale. Make sure to clearly outline quotas that are expected regularly as well as additional compensation scales for exceeding quotas. You can be sure it will be the most well-read page in the book.

How to Create Your Own Sales Playbook

It’s hard to overstress the importance of having a sales playbook. Comprehensive training, expectations, resources, well-defined sales processes and streamlined messaging are all imperative to equipping your team to win. 

But to keep winning, you have to make sure the team’s equipment doesn’t get outdated. Sales is a dynamic business, so it’s important to regularly update and refine your playbooks as you would technology. 

Need help getting started? Download our Sales Playbook Template to get you started on the right track. Or, if you’d prefer an expert hand to help you create a winning sales playbook and streamline your sales processes, let’s set up a time to chat

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