Driving Consistent Performance With Sales Plays

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In the fast-moving world of sales, dynamic sales plays are necessary to keep up with the changing market. Buyer needs can change quickly, which means that reps need to be continuously equipped to deliver relevant, accurate, and valuable information to buyers. This is where contextual guidance – often in the form of sales plays – can be critical to helping reps quickly access the latest and greatest enablement materials to keep up with market changes.

While sales plays differ among companies, buyers, products, and contexts, in their simplest form, a good sales play arms sellers with the information they need to know before talking to a customer, what they need to accomplish with the buyer, and some quick and helpful talking points.

The dynamic nature of modern, digital sales plays (as opposed to the static playbooks of the past) empowers reps to perform consistently across many different selling scenarios. As consistent performance becomes an increasingly important sales goal, with 27% of enablement teams stating that increasing consistent rep performance is a key goal for the year ahead, sales plays are an essential component of an effective enablement strategy.

Enablement can help to deliver sales plays that provide information at the moment of need for reps to build sales confidence and improve consistency.

Designing Plays Sellers Will Want to Use

Generally, a sales play is a set of repeatable steps, actions, and best practices that a rep can use in a selling scenario. Sales plays should not be a long rulebook; they should be quick and accessible to guide reps to the next step in the selling process. The best sales plays are concise, tactical, and customer-focused.

“[Sales plays] should always include how to execute,” said Ashton Williams, senior manager of global enablement at Slack. “Sometimes that is understanding the thought leadership in the market, discovery questions, or who else to bring into the deal. It really should be the snapshot of what sellers need to do at this moment, in this situation.”

Sales plays can vary in structure but most typically contain some key components such as:

  • Purpose: who should use the play, when to use it, and why they should use the play
  • Content: relevant and digestible information that drives buyer engagement and shows sellers what ‘good’ looks like
    • Overview of the product, service, or initiatives and value proposition
    • Description of the target customer
    • Competitor information
    • Pricing and packaging
  • Call to Action: what sellers should do with the sales play resources
  • Coaching Plan: how managers can use the play to coach sellers

Sales plays can be a handy cheat sheet for sellers to quickly get bits of ‘just-in-time’ information that can supplement their customer conversions. Sellers can most efficiently use plays when they’re in a language that they use and have an easy-to-follow structure. Oftentimes, this means making them simple and specific and not being afraid to use bullet points.

Additionally, sales plays should be easy for reps to find in order to optimize usability. Putting sales plays in one place makes it easier for reps to access them and easier for enablement to measure their impact.

Collaborate Cross-Functionally to Implement Sales Plays Successfully

When creating sales plays, teams such as sales leadership, marketing, sales operations, and the reps themselves provide invaluable insight from their respective roles that can help inform sales plays to further drive accuracy and effectiveness.

“It’s about combining all of the subject matter expertise from our cross-functional teams to help build these plays,” said Harrison Waid, senior director of commercial enablement at Synthego.

For example, enablement can connect with sales operations to help make plays targeted and strategic by setting targets based on data and forecasts. Similarly, because marketing often owns the collateral enablement uses in sales plays, enablement can work closely with marketing to ensure that plays include the most effective, up-to-date content.

Additionally, direct interaction with reps can allow enablement to get feedback on what would be helpful to have in sales plays as well as what needs updating and iteration. As the end users of the play, sellers can inform play creation and ensure that they fit their specific needs. Finally, having sales leadership involved in developing the sales play strategy from the start can help ensure that plays align with their priority initiatives.

“When you partner with sales leaders, you have to understand their jobs and the challenges they face,” said Williams. “Anytime you ask someone to learn something new or try a new play, you’re asking them to risk their quota and their financial security. Communicate with them that you understand that risk and are in their corner.”

Driving Sales Play Adoption and Engagement

As enablement builds out sales plays, it’s critical to have a plan to drive adoption and engagement. The more that reps use plays, the more consistent they become. Don’t be afraid to get creative and test new ways to drive play adoption. As a starting point, consider the following techniques:

  • Train managers on new plays: Connect with managers to review sales plays before launch and prepare them to hold reps accountable for using the play.
  • Host a kick-off to introduce the play: Facilitate a live kick-off to generate awareness and answer basic questions about the play’s purpose and use cases.
  • Offer office hours: Providing regular office hours also allows enablement to support reps and helps them dive deeper into the content on an ongoing basis.
  • Embed plays in onboarding and training sessions: By embedding the plays into the learning process, reps can familiarize themselves with the guidance early and build habits around leveraging the plays.
  • Identify sales play champions: Lean on reps that can be champions for sales plays on their teams and can help drive adoption throughout the sales organization.
  • Gamify sales play usage: Salespeople can be very competitive, so lean into this and create competition between teams. Host a playbook marathon, where recurring use of plays can be rewarded.

“Engagement is important, so I like to make sales plays fun,” said Briana Bell, North America sales enablement manager at Everlaw. “Gamify it, make it a competition.”

Finally, ongoing maintenance to ensure that sales plays are up-to-date, relevant, and accurate can be critical to ensuring ongoing engagement and adoption. If a play’s information is inaccurate, it can lose credibility quickly. Enablement can keep plays dynamic and adaptable to change by making them an editable, living document, or adding expiration dates so that both them and the reps know when a play is outdated. When sales plays are dynamic, reps can lean on them for a consistent, trusted guidance.

Measuring Consistency with Sales Plays

After launching a sales play, enablement can check for early indicators of effectiveness. Usage metrics such as time spent viewing and who has viewed the play can signify if sellers are adopting it. After the play is showing signs of adoption, enablement can check if it’s driving behavior change and influencing revenue.

“We want to look at those early indicators: engagement, manager buy-in, how often it’s used, stage-to-stage conversion,” said Williams.

A primary goal of sales plays is to drive consistently strong rep performance. Enablement can track the impact of plays by measuring their influence on indicators for consistent performance, such as quota attainment, sales cycle length, and churn rate. Enablement can also analyze the influence of the aforementioned early indicators on top-level business goals. For example, measure revenue before and after launching plays to understand their ROI and how sellers who use the play are performing against business objectives.

Consistency is a key goal for any rep: it helps build trust and customer loyalty, reliability and predictability in meeting business objectives, and confidence throughout the sales organization and from leadership. When enablement prioritizes driving consistency with a dynamic sales play strategy, it can ensure that reps are equipped with up-to-date and relevant resources that yield customer value and success.

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