What is a Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook is a document that thoroughly outlines your sales process, so that your team has a structured approach when it comes to converting leads. It gives them all the strategies they need to close the deal and eliminates any waste of time or guesswork.
Most sales playbooks include things like call scripts, buyer personas, sample emails, and agendas. Think of it as an ultimate resource for your sales team, empowering them to engage with prospects at every step in the sales funnel!
The Importance of a Sales Playbook
So, what is the importance of a sales playbook? In simple terms, it is the key to maximizing sales efficiency and simplifying the customer onboarding process. It also helps with training your sales team and ensuring that everybody is following a standardized process.
The results also speak for themselves – the Harvard Business Review found that 50% of the top sales organizations have a regularly updated sales playbook!
When your sales team has a dedicated guide to the entire process, they can spend more time working with potential customers rather than coming up with the strategy to make a sale. It keeps them from having to develop their own messaging and resources and allows you to focus on the techniques that work.
Here are the top 6 subjects you need to write about in your sales playbook:
1. Introduction to Your Business and Team
Who will you work with?
The first chapter in your sales playbook should be an introduction to your business and team. Discuss your company's history and describe who is accountable for what - who leads each team?
For example, you should include a company organization chart so that people can understand the way the company functions and get to know titles and names. This should help your sales team understand basic facts about your organization so that they can develop a story that gives it a more personal touch.
How do we work?
Other essential factors to include in this section are your company mission and vision. What are the overall goals of your firm? Who is your target audience? These are key responses that should be used as part of their regular sales pitch.
Similarly, list out office rules, HR guidelines, and the standard training schedule so that your new sales representatives know what to expect.
What do we offer?
An effective sales playbook should also provide a high-level overview of the products and services your company offers. Every person in your organization should be able to answer basic questions about what products you sell, how they work, and what benefits they provide to your customers.
This section should also describe the pricing structure and different package offerings available. If your brand offers a wide variety of products with different purchasing processes, consider having a separate sales playbook that specifically addresses that.
2. Customer Persona
The next chapter in your sales playbook should help your team understand the customer persona. Before they can sell your products and services, your representatives must understand who the target audience is and who they're selling to.
Take this as an opportunity to describe the buyer's journey - what steps does the buyer take to research the product, and how will they ultimately learn about your brand?
Your company will have a unique focus, so clearly describe who your sales team should be concentrating on when it comes to qualifying leads.
Don't leave out any details when you describe your ideal client. Include demographics, job titles, pain points, key performance indicators, and more. The more detailed your qualification criteria are, the better your sales team can pinpoint top potential clients.
3. Stages of the Sales Cycles
Effective sales playbooks will also describe the various stages of the sales cycle. As you review each stage, define the related goals and strategies necessary to move a prospect through that phase.
This is a classic B2B funnel and dependent on your sales model, your process might look different; for example:
While understanding the sales cycle from the company’s perspective is valuable, it is also helpful to think about things from the prospect’s point of view.
For example, the first stage may be a research or exploratory phase. This is where the buyer is looking for a solution to a problem they're facing and starts searching for solutions. At this point, your sales team should have a business case created to address those issues and help a potential client move closer to deciding to work with your brand.
How to use the Playbook to your advantage
Your sales playbook should thoroughly describe each step of the sales cycle and include the criteria needed to move from one step to the next – such as lead qualification requirements. All these questions – and more – should be answered in this part of your sales playbook!
The individual roles and responsibilities for every member of your sales team should be clearly explained in this section too. This information will help your sales representatives understand what is expected of them.
You should link the roles and responsibilities to every step of the sales cycle. The idea is not to create so much structure that your sales team is micromanaged, but rather provide guidelines to ensure that nothing is missed at each step of the sales process.
4. How to Pursue Opportunities
This next section should describe how to pursue opportunities with new clients. What needs to happen before you can present an offer? How do you go about closing a deal once you have overcome objections and the client is ready to move forward?
For starters, provide your team with an overview of the sales tools they have available – and how to use them. Give clear instruction about how to properly utilize your CRM systems, project management applications, and other technology that can help them during the sales process.
Using the Right Tools
Although you can briefly mention where to find the tools, this part of your sales playbook should focus on how to use specific features and when they should be implemented during the sales cycle.
For example, the first stage of the sales cycle involves identifying prospects and potential buyers. Make sure that your team knows how to manage leads. Where should they input contact information? How will the leads be managed?
Also, give them the tips and tricks for collecting data from CRM systems to facilitate their sales approach. Consider how they can take data from marketing campaigns and customer service interactions to add value during the sales cycle.
Including this information in your sales playbook also ensures that your team is using the tools you have available consistently and in a standardized way.
Pricing Schemes & Negotiation Rules
Provide a detailed description of the pricing schemes associated with your products, as well as specific rules for negotiations. Can they offer discounts on bulk orders? Are referral incentives allowed for clients that refer other potential prospects?
There should be no room for interpretation in this section – you want everyone to play by the same rules and to stay within company guidelines!
Templates and Outlines
This should include how many times you should reach out to your prospects, as well as the timing and what the salespeople need to address. You need to get into the cadence of selling and get used to the rhythm.
Here's an idea of what this could look like:
Day 1: Phone call with a voicemail
Day 3: Email with a follow-up phone call
Day 7: A phone call and an email in the afternoon
Day 11: Email and a call in the morning
Besides outlining the frequency of contact, you should also give them details about what they should be saying. Also, include call and email scripts - and tools to develop pre-call checklists and call planning strategies.
The section in your playbook that covers pursuing new opportunities should also include links to specific sales enablement materials. Each stage in the sales cycle should have links to sales enablement materials that were designed to help them move prospects through to the next step.
Train them on your elevator pitch, value proposition, and how to overcome common objections that they will face. Offer them a suggested conversation flow and show them how to ask qualification questions.
Make sure that you also explain when it is time to let go of a lead and focus on others that are more interested!
The content you provide your salespeople needs to be tailored based on the context of the sales cycle. It should support the interactions that your team will have with potential buyers at every phase, and the materials should be available on-demand.
Here are some examples of valuable documents that can be shared with customers during the sales cycle:
Relevant articles and white papers
There should be internal-use only documents available for every stage as well. For example, give your sales representatives access to pitch decks, training content, and battle cards that will give them a competitive advantage when they interact with a prospect. These tools will not only help them speed up the sales cycle but also allow them to nurture leads and gather business.
How to handle the negative
Another useful aspect of your sales playbook involves objection handling. Your teams should be equipped with descriptions of the customer’s pain points so that they can respond to objections at every stage of the process.
There are five standard objections that they need to overcome: lack of money, no identified need, no time constraint, limited trust in your brand, and no desire to purchase a product. You must sway these opinions early on, so encourage your reps to seek out objections so that they can provide an answer to overcome them!
Learn from the best!
Every sales playbook should have a section dedicated to tips and best practices. Your top performers should share the tactics that result in the most success, and all details should be included: how, where, with what materials, and why it worked. Including information about things that haven’t worked in the past is helpful too. Allow your sales team to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors so that they don’t make them again.
Explain best practices for prospecting so that your sales reps know which potential clients to pursue, and how. It is necessary to provide specifics and concrete examples so that they can be replicated across your organization!
5. Success Stories & Sharing Success
Success stories are a great way to add a layer of inspiration to your sales playbook. Include stories about big deals that were closed, or unique ways that sales representatives or able to onboard a new customer.
Not only does this allow you to recognize your top team members, but it also encourages the rest of the sales department to strive for success in new and creative ways.
6. Define your Goals, Targets & Commission Structure
Defining your goals and targets through key performance indicators will help your sales team know how to measure their performance.
The sales playbook should tell your team what sales managers will be tracking and any baseline numbers they should be aware of.
For instance, how many calls per day are they expected to make? Or how many prospective client appointments should they have each week? Give them an idea of what metrics are closely correlated with success so that they can work to meet their quotas.
Targets & Commission Structure
This portion of your sales playbook should also discuss the commission structure that applies to your team. It is simple for salaried employees to figure out how much they will earn each month, but your commission-based sales representatives should know how to calculate their income as well.
Provide an overview of the compensation package your company provides, whether it is based on salary plus commission or a set bonus structure. Make sure you explain this clearly and provide examples with numbers so that they can thoroughly understand it.
For instance, what will they earn if they make 50% of their quota? What about 75% or 100%? Also, describe what bonuses are available if they exceed the targets listed.
Transparency is key here since you want to motivate your sales team, not create tension or confusion!
Don’t underestimate the importance your sales playbook can make in creating a structured approach to converting leads. Be sure to include these 6 topics as you start developing one for your startup!