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.
On a macro-level, it should improve forecast accuracy and quota achievements. And on a microlevel, it can help compress sales cycles, increase the average deal size, and improve win rates on deals.
The successful playbook will acquire, organize, and systematize the best sales practices. And this will give your sales team an easy-to-follow process for selling at your company.
How to build a sales playbook
Designing, or 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.
Now, while every company is different, there are at least four departments whose input will be invaluable.
This person needs to be either the sales enablement leader and/or the general sales leader. You may also want to include your best salesperson/people.
The sales leader and your top salesperson will help ensure the content is relevant to the sales process and is also easy to use in the sales environment.
Subject matter experts.
This broad term covers everyone from IT, to customer success teams, field technicians, and product designers.
These experts often provide:
- Invaluable insight into the best use of CRM.
- Understanding the product inside and out.
- Perfecting the hand-off between the sales department and the service department.
The playbook needs the big picture as well as the daily goals. 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.
When it comes to customer data and content, the marketing team can help outline brand guidelines and messaging for your company’s solutions.
We said at least four because there’s a fifth department vital to the success of a sales playbook.
A designated coordinator or manager for the project. Someone who oversees the project and can keep tabs on the multiple departments necessary to make this project a success.
The playbook’s designated project manager can ensure everyone stays on track and that the deadlines are met.Want to create a powerful Sales Playbook? Include Sales, SMEs, Execs, and Marketing to pull the right information, in the right way, for your teams to be successful. Click To Tweet
The content should include
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?
There are nine topics a sales playbook must include:
- The buyer’s journey
- Qualification checklists
- Discovery talk tracks (check out Meghann Misiak’s conversation on MEDDIC and the discovery process).
- An overview of the sales process
- Best practices for each stage
- Skills tips for each stage
- Sales tools for each stage
- Exit criteria for each stage
- The forecast category criteria and definitions
However, a sales playbook should also include:
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 be covered with 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.
Some companies have a commission structure or a compensation/bonus structure. And it’s important that is this clearly and explicitly outlined. If your company is salary only, this too needs to be explicitly laid out.
This section is where you want to 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.
In this section, you also want to outline expectations as far their performance is measured. As well as how metrics are connected with their daily selling activities.
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.
The external content refers to material that can be shared with customers. This includes everything from whitepapers and sales sheets to product presentations, blog posts, and articles.
Measuring the effectiveness of your playbook
A sales playbook, appropriately built, should contribute to six key sales metrics:
- Improved sales
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Superior retention of high-performing salespeople
- Increased team morale
- Increase productivity
- Faster ramp-up of new hires
Getting the data on 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 tracking sales numbers, and keeping tabs on KPIs.
Another metric is usability. 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.
If you would like to know more about enablement, sales rep training, sales leadership, or sales playbooks, sign up for our mailing list!
Living Enablement as a practitioner and as a leader. I’ve seen the confusion and frustration that many practitioners live. From working in other areas of the business, I’ve also seen the genuine need for the capabilities that enablement provides.