A sales playbook is a fluid document with best practices that your sales team members should live and breathe by, with the flexibility to change as your business changes. It’s designed to walk sales managers and reps through scenarios like onboarding new hires, engaging prospects, pitching new products, handling objections, or making changes to the sales process with ease. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why using a sales playbook is so important, what to include in it, and how to avoid common mistakes so you can build and manage a great sales playbook

Why Are Sales Playbooks Critical for Modern Sales Teams?

A good sales playbook enables your team to navigate the buyer’s journey better and ultimately close more deals. According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 50% of respondents from high-performing sales organizations reported following a “closely monitored, strictly enforced or automated” sales process — which you’ll detail in your sales playbook

Sales playbooks also offer a number of less obvious benefits that make them a critical tool for any sales team. They help promote consistent company-wide brand messaging and give your sales reps a deeper understanding of what they’re selling and who they’re selling it to.

Who Should Own the Sales Playbook?

Sales Enablement: The True Owner

When it’s time to decide who’s responsible for creating and managing your company’s sales playbook, the sales enablement department is a natural choice. Sales enablement focuses on providing sales teams with the sales tools, resources, and information they need to ramp up quickly and effectively and close more deals. As a result, the sales playbook falls squarely under the sales enablement umbrella.

Executive Leadership (or RevOps Executive): The Alternative Owner

If your company doesn’t have a sales enablement department, the responsibility of creating and managing a sales playbook goes to the company’s executive leadership. RevOps executives are often good choices for owning a sales playbook since they focus on aligning the data, tech stacks, and strategies of multiple departments within a company. The best sales playbooks are typically those that are produced via the collaboration of a company’s sales, marketing, and product development teams.

Internal Subject Matter Experts: The Content Creators

While it’s true that your company’s sales playbook should be owned and managed by either your sales enablement team or executive leadership, internal subject matter experts within your company should play a prominent role in helping create the content that fills your playbook. 

Your most experienced and knowledgeable sales reps and sales leaders are usually the best-positioned internal subject matter experts to guide this process. In addition to working with experts from your sales department, you can also collaborate with subject matter experts from your product development and marketing teams.

7 Things You Must Have in Your Sales Playbook

If you want your sales playbook to empower your team to reach its sales goals, there are several must-haves that your playbook should include. While the specific sales plays and resources will ultimately depend on your company’s unique sales process and sales activities, there are seven key pieces to a great sales playbook template:

1) Buyer Personas 

Having a solid understanding of your audience can be the difference between closing a deal and losing a customer to the competition. Part of your sales playbook should focus on the personas of your target buyers. A buyer persona is a snapshot of who the buyer is, their decision-makers, and who and what influences those decisions. Building playbook profiles for your buyers that contain all of this information makes it easier for sales reps to understand how to mold their technique from one client to the next. Customizing the approach to each buyer personalizes the sales process and is more likely to result in a positive customer experience and more closed deals.

2) Sales Methodology

Your organization’s sales methodology is the standard that your sales reps should follow when making a sale. Having your methodology documented in your playbook gives your team clear, complete information regarding what your company’s sales process should look like, as well as how to set up the pitch. Including this information in your playbook helps foster consistency organization-wide and ensures that your company’s value propositions are being highlighted effectively. 

3) Sales Pitches

Your sales playbook should arm your salespeople with brief, compelling pitches to pique a potential customer’s interest. Your sales reps need to be able to quickly engage potential customers if they want to keep them on the phone, and a well-developed sales pitch can go a long way. The same applies for video calls, emails, social media messages, and all the other channels your team is selling through.

4) Customer Pain Points

Customers who purchase new products or services are doing so with the hopes of solving a specific problem. This makes understanding customer pain points a vital objective for any sales team. One of the best ways to approach this is to create a profile of your company’s ideal customer, including their challenges, top-priority goals, and obstacles to buying. Then, outline those pain points in your sales playbook so that your salespeople know exactly how to steer the conversation to show potential customers that you have a unique, viable solution.

5) Common Objections and Objection Handling Techniques

WebStrategies reports that sales pitches are successful 64% of the time when the sales rep can satisfy the customer’s objections. From pricing concerns to unfamiliarity with your company or product, to a lack of urgency, there’s no shortage of sales objections that your salespeople need to be prepared to address. 

In your playbook, outline common objections that are based on past interactions and data and your ideal customer profile. Then, equip your salespeople with techniques designed to handle these common objections. This gives your sales reps the opportunity to roleplay conversations and text messaging beforehand, so they actively listen and get to the heart of the “no” with each conversation. 

6) How Your Product Works

Simply put, it’s easier for salespeople to sell a product that they’re familiar with.  Sometimes, a product’s features are easy to understand with little to no explanation. In other cases — like complex or nuanced accounting software or a revamped feature rollout — your salespeople will need guidance and training. Detailed easy-to-understand product descriptions yet are vital elements of your sales playbook. They’ll help your sales rep avoid overpromising on functionality and allow them to identify a strong prospect more quickly. This is also why coordinating with your product development team during the creation of your sales playbook is so valuable. 

7) How To Talk About Your Product

In addition to understanding what your product can do, your sales reps also need to know how to position it. For example, your sales playbook could include details such as the most important features to highlight, impressive statistics regarding your product, and the most powerful value proposition they can present to customers. Your sales playbook may also include call scripts or templates that your salespeople can use to guide their conversations.

Avoid These Sales Playbook Mistakes

Not Updating It

A helpful sales playbook is not a static document. Instead, your playbook needs to be regularly updated and adapted as your company grows and your sales process evolves. Every quarter, you should meet with your sales enablement department — or whoever is in charge of overseeing the sales playbook — to examine the playbook and determine if adjustments are needed.

Not Having a Place To Store It

Playbooks cannot be leveraged as sales tools if sales reps don’t know where to find them. Ensure that all of your sales representatives know where the playbook is stored and how they can access it. The playbook should be stored in a way that makes it accessible at all times. Likewise, make sure that any updates that are made to the playbook are visible in real-time. Having a centralized digital read-only copy that reps can pull up from their computers at any time is an ideal way to make sure that everyone has up-to-date information, and can access it whenever they need it.

Not Training on It Consistently

A sales playbook is only valuable when your salespeople know how to leverage it to its fullest potential, and that requires consistent ongoing sales coaching. Any time updates or changes are made to your playbook; you’ll need to retrain your team on how to use it. Of course, any new reps that you hire should also be trained on the playbook during onboarding. 

In addition to training new reps and providing training anytime, the playbook is changed, you should provide playbook training quarterly or annually. This ensures that your team gets consistent information and stays sharp on the latest sales methodology, techniques, and resources.  Sales managers can get started quickly with our roundup of great sales coaching templates and these eight proven sales training ideas

Not Holding People Accountable

Just because you put a sales playbook in place doesn’t mean that every member of your team is guaranteed to follow it. This makes it important to hold your reps accountable and reel in reps who go rogue. Make it clear from the start that following the sales playbook is a requirement rather than a recommendation, or else you risk your team not taking your sales playbook as seriously as they should.

Confusing Your Playbook With an ROE Document

Rules of engagement (ROE) documents and sales playbooks are related, but ultimately separate documents, and it’s important to treat them as such. An ROE document is used to outline how accounts are distributed between different segments of your sales team so everyone is clear on how and when to engage. It’s a good idea to include this resource in your playbook, but as we’ve covered, it’s much more than an ROE. 

These are just a few of the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when creating and deploying your sales playbook. At Sales Assembly, we help companies train their sales reps and sales leaders in how to effectively leverage a sales playbook through our industry-leading sales certification program. Your team will enhance their skills through live, virtual classes led by our community experts and strategic breakout rooms.  

Empower Your Sales Team With Help From Sales Assembly

Sales Assembly’s membership platform helps you take your team — and your business — to the next level. From lead qualification to the art of closing deals and everything step in between, our programs and events are built to develop sales professionals, both new and experienced. Chat with one of our team members today to sign up or learn more about our exceptional sales training courses.

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