Ultimate Guide to Building A Sales Playbook
What if you could replicate your best performing sales team members over and over and over again?
Well good news for you is that with a documented sales playbook you can amplify your best campaigns and best sales reps’ performance across your entire team.
Sales playbooks are often an overlooked yet critical component of a repeatable, scalable sales process.
In fact almost ½ of all sales teams don’t have a documented sales playbook…
Which is crazy when the sales teams that have and use a sales playbook are 33% more likely to be high performers with win rates exceeding 50%?
“The most successful teams I’ve seen and been apart of have taken the time to develop a comprehensive guide that enables their sales process and people to ramp up to ‘rep profitability’ quicker”
That’s why having a documented sales playbook that outlines your sales strategy and process, buyer personas, call scripts and agendas, sample emails, various sales qualification questions throughout the funnel, proposal guidelines, and competitive intelligence guidelines is an endeavor every sales leader has to undertake or at some point.
Think of your sales playbook as a sales training that will help everyone perform to the standards you set.
Having a developed playbook also creates a level of sales autonomy as the playbook acts as a set of sales tools the team can use to make decisions and close deals, freeing up management’s time for higher level sales strategy decisions.
Let’s dive into the components of a robust, scalable sales playbook that your team will actually want to use.
Components of the Ultimate Sales Playbook
Every company’s sales process is different — meaning every sales playbook is going to contain different elements. However, there are some basic components your sales playbook should contain to make sure your sales team has:
- A holistic understanding of the company
- Your ideal customer profile
- An understanding of the sales process
A sales playbook will contain the following:
This includes the mission statement, one liners, elevator pitches, the founder’s story, key company points, and the company description and vision. A new sales team member should have a better understanding of the company and how to communicate your product after reading this section.
Provide more details around the products/solutions at your company. For each, answer questions reps may have like:
- What challenge does this product solve?
- What is the legacy way of doing things?
- Why is this way better?
- What are the main features of this product?
- Who are the main users at a company?
- How does pricing work?
- How does implementation work?
Ask members of product marketing to help craft this section.
Provide demo accounts so the team can jump into the product and test all features in a more hands-on manner.
Ideal Customer Profile & Buyer Personas
Both your sales and marketing teams need to be aligned on both your ideal customer profile and your target personas within these ideal customer.
Ideal Customer Profile should answer the question, “what are the characteristics of an ideal account?” It can include information around industry/vertical, employee size, annual revenue, geography, current technology stack, etc.
Buyer Personas describe the individuals who your reps will be selling to in detail, such as title, age, goals, challenges, aspirations, personal background, etc.
This allows reps to truly get into the minds of their buyers, spend their time in the right places, and empathize with them throughout the process.
Your Sales Process
From prospecting to closing, defining and outlining your entire sales process is crucial…but daunting. Leaning on team members who actively own these steps in the sales process daily is a great way to complete this section. The sales process section will include actual stages of the sales process, criteria necessary to move onto the next stage, tactics to get this information (prospecting tips, email templates and sequences, objection handling), and how to manage their pipeline in CRM so your team can forecast.
This will be the longest section of the playbook and will likely require multiple team members to contribute in order to capture the entire process.
Examples of Top Calls and Emails
While outlining the way to have a successful phone call is helpful, nothing beats actually hearing another team member navigate an effective connect call, discovery, or demonstration. Ask your top account executives for a call recording and their best prospecting and follow up email templates. Maybe even ask them to lead a session diving deeper into their strategies. Top performers are always itching for leadership opportunities.
CRM Success Tips
While we just covered top Salesforce tips, documenting best practices for CRM and pipeline management will not only help reps ramp up faster, but will give your team cleaner data for forecasting.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
So often sales team members don’t understand how they’re being judged beyond their ability to close deals. However, there are a ton of other key performance indicators that they need to understand and measure. Outline the most important KPIs to your organization. Provide benchmarks for a core performer vs. a top performer for even more context.
Having these KPIs documented will also help prepare your team for leadership as they’ll have a foundational understanding in measurement beyond their own performance.
Some KPIs to consider may be:
- Activity: Opp Ratio
- Demo: Close Ratio
- Average Sales Price
What better way to motivate your team than outlining their compensation structure directly in the sales playbook? Outline commission structure, benchmarks for performance, kickers and contests, and President’s Club criteria.
Many teams have a variety of content that will support their sales reps throughout the process. This may be external content to provide to the prospect, like white-papers, ebooks, case studies, ROI docs, and so on. It may also include internal content, like competitive battlecards and negotiation tactics. The problem is finding and accessing this content at the right time.
Create checklists for each stage of the sales process with links to the relevant content that can help move deals forward, faster. Even for expert reps, it always helps to have a checklist to be sure they’ve hit all the boxes.
As a good analogy, even when you’ve made a long drive a dozen times, it’s still helpful to turn on Google Maps so you don’t have to worry about missing a turn. These checklists can provide the same value.
Include other resources in this section, such as tips and tricks to get the most out of other sales acceleration software.
Lastly, have add a reading list and links to great blogs. Offer to reimburse reps for any sales-related books they purchase. It’ll only make the company (and you) more money in the long run!
Focus On What Matters Most
Developing an initial sales playbook can be an overwhelming task which is why it’s important to remember that your sales playbook is an ever-evolving document and having even one section documented will help the team.
A common challenge outlined by many sales leaders is keeping playbooks up to date. Stay diligent. Again, it will only help your team be more successful in the long run.
It is a best practice to revisit and revise a playbook every 3-6 months. Block off a day every quarter to meet with team member, gather ideas to improve the playbook and process, and revise as necessary.
It is also a best practice to crowdsource ideas from your team. Delegate sections to different members who are the best at that part. For example, give your top SDR a piece of the prospecting section to own. Collaborate with marketing and sales ops, too.
If you won’t be tackling the project yourself, make sure you set a designated project manager and ensure they’re supported throughout the process and set deadlines to ensure the project keeps moving forward.
Engaging Your Sales Team Around The Playbook
The last thing anyone wants to do is develop a piece of content and have it sit in a Google Drive folder to never be looked at again. That’s why engaging the sales team in the process of building the playbook is a great way to ensure they are invested in its success.
Beyond having your team participate in the creation, there are other ways to engage them to ensure the adoption and continued use of the playbook including:
- Having team members present each section they worked on to the larger team
- Quizzing the sales team on different sections or the entire sales playbook
- Partnering all new sales team members with a person in the same or a similar position to act as a sales training guide
- Building required fields to fill out in Salesforce before moving an opportunity to the next stage
- Creating proactive checklists with process automation using RocketVisor
Conquering Your Sales Playbook Development
While developing a sales playbook can be stressful, once it is done you’ll have one of the most powerful sales resources that will help to develop a repeatable, scalable sales process.
Beyond helping the team crush their quotas, a documented sales playbook will help your team understand the company’s mission, expectations and KPIs, and keep them informed on the latest and great sales tactics. It will also ensure Salesforce cleanliness for forecasting.
There is no better time than now to get started and improve your revenue-generating machine. Start small and simple, and begin to build out from there.
Kathryn Kosmides is a startup marketer focused on SaaS and blockchain technologies who recently founded her own non-profit project to prevent domestic violence (Garbo.io).