Boost Sales Efficiency with a Modern Sales Playbook

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One of the hardest things about being a sales rep is sorting through all the resources for any given product to deliver timely, relevant, actionable material to prospects. In a role where time truly is money, sales reps despise hunting for the content they need, but often, they have no other choice. In fact, salespeople spend nearly 30 hours per month digging for and producing their own marketing content. This inefficiency is unnecessary and avoidable.

To empower sales teams to spend more time selling and less time searching for—or creating—materials, it’s time to develop a modern sales playbook. A spin on traditional sales resource guides, sales playbooks provide digital resources in real-time with the latest materials for reps served up for each selling scenario. In other words, they provide the right content at the right time, eliminating guesswork and fruitless searching.

“We have to enable the salespeople to have the information they need at the moment they need it,” said Alice Heiman, co-founder of Alice Heiman LLC. “When we go to digital types of playbooks, we can really save a lot of time.”

Creating a winning sales playbook for modern sellers

Odds are, you have a rough idea of the kinds of content that should be included in your playbook already—things like the company’s mission, value proposition, product information, buyer personas, and processes are all necessary inputs. In an ideal world, the sales book will contain all that information and more, tailored to the sellers’ needs.

And, much like a championship sports team has more than one coach with a specialty who guides certain areas of their team’s playbook, so should your organization. It’s important to involve all the specialties—sales management, marketing, operations, finance, and potentially even the head coach—the CEO.

You also need to decide on the platform where you’ll publish your playbook. The most streamlined approach is to integrate it into your sales enablement platform, and if you don’t have one, then use your organization’s intranet or digital file system like SharePoint. The main point is to get the content online so that it can be accessed however and whenever the rep needs it.

Good books have many chapters

Imagine reading a book that didn’t have a single chapter from start to finish, but instead, was one continuous 300-page dump of the author’s brain. You wouldn’t get very far, would you?

Chapters are important for content organization, searching, and even for providing a sense of accomplishment. When considering your playbook chapters, these sections are critical:

About your company. This should include the “why”. To paraphrase Simon Sinek, no one cares what you do, they care why you do it. What’s your company’s purpose, cause, or belief? Why does your organization exist? Why should anyone care? Start with why and move on to how. How is your company structured—particularly, how does the sales organization work? Think of this section as “getting to know you” content for new hires and transfers into the sales organization. Spend some time setting the stage appropriately. Include information on culture, career path, and performance review cycles, as well as anything else about the company that’s important to new employees.

About your products and pricing. Depending on the size of your company, you may choose to use this opportunity to give an overview of your top products, some of your products, or all your products, along with pricing matrices. A multi-billion-dollar organization may choose to only highlight its top-sellers and dive deep on all products in secondary documentation, whereas a small-to-mid-sized organization may be able to cover all products in one section. Work with all your stakeholders to determine the right mix for your company.

About your sales process. No two sales processes are alike, just as no two sellers are alike. Spend time explaining each step of the sales cycle, including who should be involved, buyer personas, and common roadblocks to success. After reading this section, the audience should know how to get from the initial prospect contact to a closed deal—and how to record it along the way.

About your competitors. Every successful salesperson does competitive research before pitching a client, in an attempt to stay ahead of questions that may pop up and understand where their company’s differentiated value lies. By providing competitive information upfront, organizations can once again save time and help ensure reps are informed. This information could include facts such as feature comparisons, customer base demographics, and where the competitor excels vs. struggles.

The plays. No playbook is complete without the plays. These are the specific sales initiatives that sellers will use on a daily basis. An effective sales play is a guided selling experience where sellers can consume material when it is most relevant, ultimately improving efficiency and general satisfaction with their jobs. These could be in the form of a play for each product, multiple plays for each product, or even plays for product combinations.

“When it comes to leading with valuable content, you should provide the sales team with strategic and focused messaging scripts,” said Mario Martinez, CEO of Vengresso.

Each play should include:

  • Overview — the framework for what to say, how to say it, and when to leverage templates and different materials
  • Strategy — clear strategy with themes that recur throughout the rest of the play
  • Goals — what the rep is aiming to deliver with the play
  • KPIs — how success is measured
  • Talking points and messaging — these are the highlights the rep should hit when talking to prospects, either in bullet or script format
  • Content for 1:1 engagements — email templates, one-sheets, presentations, and the like
  • Content for follow-ups — email templates and voicemail scripts
  • Countering objections — common objections and how to address them
  • Content for social posts — optional, but helpful to get the sales team active in an appropriate way on social platforms
  • Where to learn more — link up any training opportunities to the play so sellers can learn more if they need or want to
  • Examples — show sales reps videos of a great call or presentation to set expectations and help build confidence

Best practices. Consider this section “collective knowledge.” It’s an attempt to share what works and what doesn’t work, as told by experienced sales reps within a company. You have a depth of knowledge and experience at your fingertips within the sales force, so take time to interview top sellers and ask them for their lessons learned and best practices.

CRM expectations. Sales and marketing rely on the CRM system to understand pipeline, current revenue, and revenue potential. But it can be a painful process to get sales reps to actually use the CRM system in a consistent way. Use the playbook to position the organization’s CRM expectations: How to update it, when to update it, and standard flags and language to use. By defining things like what each buying stage means, when opportunities move from stage to stage, and which fields are optional vs. mandatory, the CRM system will be easier to use for reps and easier to manage for leaders.

Comp and benefits. With a pay structure based on commission, salespeople are motivated by money. For best results, be upfront and clear about how that structure works. This section is an opportunity to be transparent, eliminating confusion and helping sellers achieve positive results.

Where to go for help. Especially in larger organizations, navigating the maze of corporate hierarchies can be difficult, if not impossible. Help the sales team by providing key contacts by product—this includes product marketing, general marketing, finance, operations, and any other relevant teams.
To maximize the effectiveness of the playbooks, it’s important to keep a cadence of continuously reviewing and updating content as necessary.

“Keep measuring, adapting, and checking KPIs,” said Martinez. “If you’re not getting the results in a particular area or particular buyer type, change it up fix those playbooks.”

Creating a comprehensive, end-to-end sales playbook is a massive undertaking, but one that will reap benefits of measurable proportions.

Have a playbook success story or question? Let us know in the comments.

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