The Sales Playbook: Why You Need It, and How to Use It to Improve Sales

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What’s in your sales playbook? Or maybe the better question is: “Do you have a sales playbook?” If you don’t have one, or don’t know what to include, read on. I’ll look at why having a playbook is vitally important to sales success; and I’ll describe some of the essential items that can help get your team on the same page. Let’s go!

You Are Not Alone

Ask owners of small and medium-sized businesses if a sales playbook is a good idea and I’m pretty sure most would say yes, definitely, it’s a good thing to have. After all, most would subscribe to the philosophy that it is wise to plan your work and work your plan. Most would agree that it’s impossible to reach your destination if you don’t have a roadmap (or a sales GPS). And most would concur that having a strategic vision, defined processes, and consistent performance across all members of the sales team are critical to sales success. And yet, it’s a curious truth that most smaller companies still don’t utilize a sales playbook.

Why not? What’s the big compelling reason most companies don’t have a sales playbook in their arsenal of sales tools? I have found it’s because most owners of smaller businesses don’t truly understand what a sales playbook is or what it should include. I have also found that many Sales Managers in these companies do not understand the importance of a sales playbook because they either worked for companies that didn’t utilize one or they have risen through the ranks of their company and did not come directly from a sales background. It’s also likely that smaller businesses run too lean, with sales management personnel still entangled in front line sales, so there never seems to be enough time to develop bigger-picture plans.

Regardless of the reasons for not having a sales playbook, you are not alone if you haven’t developed yours yet. But because most other smaller companies don’t have one either, this can become your competitive advantage when you finally develop yours!

What IS a Sales Playbook?

Like the playbook for a sports team, a sales playbook helps you chart and navigate your path from where you are at any given point in the “game” to where you want to end up. In sales, of course, the goal is to convert a prospect into a customer and build a profitable, lasting (and perhaps an expanding) customer relationship. Designed and implemented thoughtfully, your sales playbook can help you build continuing sales success. And ultimately – because it is meant to take you from the opening plays to the desired end game as efficiently and effectively as possible – it can provide a systematic way to help eliminate uncertainty, confusion, false starts, and missteps.

This is a tall order, of course, and because a sales playbook can be so comprehensive and complex, it can seem quite daunting to put together. So, where do you start?

What to Include in Your Sales Playbook – at Least in the Beginning

Your sales playbook should include fundamentals like your overall sales strategy, defined sales processes, available resources and training materials, as well as documents needed throughout the sales process.

At a high level, it should include essentials like your company’s vision, mission, and value proposition. It should include buyer personas, and research summaries and analyses about your competition, too. And don’t forget Key Performance Indicators, goals and quotas.

All the above elements provide essential context for the “plays” in the playbook. These are the methods and processes for leading a prospect through the sales funnel, and can include your elevator pitches as well as scripts for handling anticipated sales scenarios and overcoming common objections. How much detail you include will likely depend on the complexities of your products and services, along with the nuances of your prospect base.

How to Use Your Sales Playbook

Just as a well-coached team knows its goal in advance and knows how to use their playbook to win the game, your sales playbook should be just as instrumental in winning customers. With the right pieces in place, you’ll be able to use your sales playbook to:

  • Home in on the targets most likely to convert
  • Forecast results based on KPIs, CRM data and other influential information
  • Define and refine sales processes based on real-time conditions and results
  • Deploy salespeople to serve the right markets and targets based on their talents and performance
  • Recruit, reward, and retain top sales talent to optimize results month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year

Bottom Line:

The sales playbook can be an essential difference-maker to your sales success. While it can be comprehensive and complex, you can start with the basics and build in critical detail as you go. (We’ll drill down to focus on sales playbook specifics in future articles.)

Simply put, if your company has a sales playbook while your competitors do not, that’s an instant competitive advantage. Of course, your entire sales team needs to support, follow, and continue to enhance the playbook; otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity to increase sales, improve sales team performance, and better serve your customers.

At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors know how construct sales playbooks that turn sales personnel with great potential into a top-performing team that consistently wins customers.

Sign up to receive our Free Sales Plan Checklist.  It provides an outline and tips on how to create an effective sales plan.

Or click here to connect with a Sales Xceleration Advisor in your area or contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”9562″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” image_hovers=”false” el_class=”sales-plan-checklist”][/vc_column][/vc_row]