Building a Sales Play Strategy for Consistent Execution
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To seamlessly navigate conversations with buyers while aligning to core business initiatives, confidence and competence are key. In developing this confidence and competence among reps – especially in an ever-evolving and quickly changing business landscape – sales plays are crucial assets.
With sales plays, reps gain a sense of direction with a deliberate focus on how they can execute to provide value at every step in a customer conversation. This sense of direction can help align the sales process with the larger buyer journey, ultimately helping to optimize seller performance and allowing reps to create meaningful connections to close deals.
Below are four strategies that enablement practitioners can follow to effectively build, implement, execute, and refine sales plays for their teams.
Create a Strategic and Adaptable Framework
To aid in widespread usage and adoption of sales plays long term, it can help to create a framework by which to build and organize the plays. This can help ensure that plays exist for critical sales motions or business initiatives, are created with key audiences in mind, and involve the support of core stakeholders.
“At the level of the sales play, strategy can be defined as the choice of tactics that enable superior sales play performance,” said Arup Chakravarti, head of sales enablement strategy at Elavon Europe.
For example, consider including the following five building blocks in a sales play strategy:
- Segmentation: Having a fundamental understanding of the basic segmentation drivers of a sales play can influence the approach and how it is ultimately used. For example, understanding whether a play is targeted at a prospective customer or an existing customer can help structure the conversations sellers will have in real-time. Segmenting plays into firmographic and technographic details helps to give sellers a more well-rounded view into how a play can be leveraged.
- Insights: Buyer insights give enablement the opportunity to identify inconspicuous elements that may drive prospective buyers’ decision-making. By preparing sellers with adequate insights, they can be better suited to use the most effective information in their customer conversations at all stages of the journey.
- Technology: Understanding what tools will be needed to facilitate the creation and use of plays can help ensure that plays can be easily executed within a rep’s workflow. Similarly, leveraging tools to build and execute plays means that the plays can be dynamic, adaptable, and accessible.
- Collaboration: Ensuring that all customer-facing teams are aligned provides mutual understanding about what needs to be said, and when. This can be driven through collaborative partnership across teams including sales, marketing, services, and sales enablement, ensuring that all teams are given the opportunity to share best practices and provide expertise.
“Make sure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, their role, and then really focus on the best practices and strategies that each role can adopt,” said Nieka Mamczak, senior manager of productivity and enablement at Drift.
- Committee: Involving sales leadership and other key stakeholders creates a culture of support while helping to drive adoption. Alignment between enablement and leadership can help ensure that key measures for success are identified, including shared objectives and long-term goals that work towards fulfilling larger business initiatives.
Develop an Implementation Approach Through Testing
Gaining familiarity with a specific selling landscape or strategic initiative can take time, and seamless sales play implementation can help accelerate mastery. Often, effective implementation requires experimentation and testing to determine the best courses of action for driving sales play adoption.
Experimentation can take multiple forms and is aimed at best addressing the needs of all sellers. To do so, first, consider any potential barriers to implementation in order to develop strategies to combat them early on. For example, retention of the information might be a risk, in which case enablement will want to test how key information is structured within sales plays. This could mean curating content by topic, delivering messages in a consistent format to aid in repetition and recognition, and more. Thinking through the risks to effective usage of the plays can help enablement devise and test strategies to mitigate those risks from the initial implementation.
Similarly, enablement can test delivery methods through technology to ensure that the ways in which the plays are being digitally presented are easily navigable and in alignment with larger initiatives. More specifically, prioritizing accessibility when implementing sales plays can result in higher adoption and a more comprehensive understanding. Enablement can monitor metrics related to how plays are consumed to optimize delivery through digital tools.
“Build up that competence,” said Chakravarti. “It’s a little bit of an experiment for us, specifically what is the right type of technology, guidance, and focus we should give to them equally. It’s a degree of experimentation in itself.”
Although experimentation can be applied to many sales play endeavors, it is key for implementation to be simple, straightforward, and consistent. When sellers are able to quickly and easily access sales plays within their workflows, they are more likely to incorporate it as a new strategy.
Curate Personalized Experiences for Buyers
Today, sellers are expected to have a thorough understanding of customers’ industries, roles, and preferences in addition to deep product expertise. It is increasingly important in the digital age, where information is abundant, for reps to leverage personalized information throughout their customer conversations to build long-term, meaningful relationships.
This makes it crucial for sales plays to guide sellers on how to personalize the experience for their prospects and customers. Knowing how to address customers and ensuring that their preferences, needs, and insights are embedded in interactions can help sellers deliver value at every stage of the sales cycle.
Ensure sales plays include clear guidance on how reps can provide unique experiences and differentiated value, such as how to pull forward individualized insights from a research study and leverage those data points to help facilitate a high-value conversation. As prospects and customers shine through strategically designed plays that champion them, sellers are able to provide value and spark interest.
“If you can stand out beyond the crowd and the noise by building a good relationship, then you get chosen and can actually continue building that meaningful relationship,” said Greg Volm, senior vice president of sales and success at Hubilo. “It’s not really about the feature function, product, or service, but instead, it really comes down to that relationship.”
Build Result-Oriented Feedback Cycles
Sales plays can be an integral part of the entire sales organization, helping to align all of the different teams that serve customers. As such, gathering quantitative and qualitative feedback from all customer-facing teams is essential to refine methods and strategies.
By operationalizing the ways that sales play consumption and execution are connected to outcomes, enablement can gain visibility into the viability of plays themselves to aid in continuous improvement. Additionally, incorporating metrics within sales play development and analysis creates awareness about the success of the play itself among enablement and the rest of the sales organization. When sellers can see how sales plays are impacting performance with data, they are more likely to adopt and utilize them.
Beyond core business metrics serving as a form of evaluation, direct seller feedback works to improve the creation and implementation of different sales plays. Conversations can reveal which elements within the sales play are most effective at generating positive buyer responses, accelerating the sales cycle, and influencing deals. This can all be examined in correlation with the customer experience and seller engagement.
Programmatic approaches towards collaboration, such as designated online communication channels and regularly scheduled team meetings, promote more consistent dialogue and feedback-rich conversations. This creates patterns of listening, practicing, and learning from others to ultimately contribute to broader insights that can then be reinforced as best practices.
“Feedback is not just giving people a safe space to share, but also giving them the guidance and the tools to do so in a constructive manner,” said Renée Osgood, head of customer success enablement at Ceros. “Rather than just saying this isn’t working, have them come to the table with solutions, even if they’re not going to be the ones that we’re going to go with in the end.”
By digging deeper and highlighting the connection between sales plays and corresponding business results from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom, enablement can leverage metrics and real-time feedback to improve and revitalize plays.
The role of sales plays is to give sellers guidance on how to provide customers with the right information at the right time throughout their journey in a way that adds value to the buying experience and creates a means for consistent execution. By thoughtfully implementing sales play guidance and then providing opportunities for improvement and refinement, enablement can maximize the effectiveness of the play and prepare reps for the field.