While a person’s inherent creativity, charisma, and personality can be all it takes to close a sale on occasion, possessing solid sales fundamentals is what enables someone to perform well consistently. Besides having the right personality for the job, effective selling requires the ability to follow a proven process, and that is what a sales playbook provides.
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Whether you are onboarding new hires or you want to provide additional support to your current salespeople, a playbook is critical. Here’s how to get started.
What to Include in a Sales Playbook For Your Team
A good sales playbook pulls together a wide range of different material into one convenient manual. While the bulk of a playbook contains training and reference material, there is room for other types of information as well. Most sales playbooks contain much of the following sections:
It is always a good idea to start a playbook by providing an overview of the company’s background and values. By doing this, you have the opportunity to reinforce your company’s culture and emphasise what the company expects from all employees. This section of the sales playbook is also the ideal place to include a chart of the organizational structure of the sales department, as well as include an employee list with up-to-date contact information.
KPIs and Performance Evaluation Metrics
“How am I doing?” is the question all salespeople want to know, so why not make it easy for them to figure it out? You can do this by including a section highlighting the key metrics sales managers are most likely to focus on while evaluating their performance and how team members should record and track results. If your company has quotas, you may also want to include that information here to guarantee everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations.
Typical Customers and What They Need
The better your team understands your ideal target customers, the more effectively they will be able to sell to them. A well-made playbook will contain an extensive look at all the typical buyer personas representing usual customers. Besides the basic customer statistics (age, job title, income/company size, brand engagement level, etc.) think about adding hints for closing the sale for customers represented by each buyer’s persona.
Products and Services
While you don’t have to include all the details of everything you sell in your sales playbook, having products, pricing, features and benefits in one place is helpful. It is an excellent approach to have similar information for your competitors’ products or services. A set of standardised answers to common prospect questions and a clearly written value proposition are valuable additions to this part of the playbook.
Step-by-Step Sales Process
A salesperson may only be actively involved in a few steps of the company’s entire sales process, but it is critical for everyone to have an understanding of the big picture to see how their role fits in with others. In this section of the playbook, walk through a realistic sale from the beginning to the end showing who should take responsibility at each step along the way. Make sure the include key goals at each stage.
How to Use the CRM
Proper tracking of leads and the communication with them in Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is a standard part of the modern sales professionals duties. It can be a lot to remember for a new hires learning new software, so make it easier by including a guide to the CRM in the Sales Playbook. You can include what information needs to be recorded when and how to enter it.
Summary of the Preferred Sales Methodology
Companies which prefer its sales reps to all use the same approach to sales may find it beneficial to present a brief overview of the approved method, in addition to any suggested further reference material in the playbook. If you do decide to include a sales methodology, your team will find it especially useful if you cross-reference it with each stage of the sales process.
Does your company have a standard way of talking about itself and interacting with your clients? If it does, then you need to put it in your playbook. Marketing messaging helps sales representatives maintain a consistent tone, vocabulary, and value proposition throughout the entire sales process, no matter who is contacting the prospect. This is an excellent section to include any communication templates you want your staff to use internally or when contacting customers.
Company Rules and Employee Compensation
You may choose to finish the playbook with a section discussing any company regulations such as code of conduct, communication policies, new hire and separation procedures, and finally compensation and bonuses.
How to Make Writing and Using a Sales Playbook Easier
Although it will take considerable time and effort to create a useful sales playbook, incorporating these tips will make both the writing process and using the playbook more manageable.
A Sales Playbook is a Collaborative and Living Document
The more people from different stages of the sales process you can bring in to help with the creation of the playbook, will result in a more precise and helpful manual. You should expect to update your playbook on a regular basis. For that reason, consider using a binder or ever better keep it all digital to make changes more convenient.
Reuse Existing Content
There is no need to start from scratch. If you already have training or product information you are happy with, use it.
Make the Sales Playbook Easy to Use
Add an index to the front of the book or document, and cross-reference information within the text. Think about using tabs so salespeople can open directly to the information they need.
Introduce the Sales Playbook to New Hires from Day One
Incorporate it into orientation and training to familiarise your team with the playbook, and make it an essential part of your company’s culture.
Ask for feedback from your sales team
Use any suggestions you receive to make changes which make your playbook even easier to use and as helpful as possible.
It may seem daunting, but at the end of the day, a customised sales playbook is a worthwhile investment for your business.
- Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.
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