Sales Playbook Framework: What it is, How to Evaluate & More
October 29th 2021
Sales Best Practices
Sales Playbook Framework
Despite the sales tech advancements to systemize operations, B2B sales remain ad hoc and cluttered. Sales leaders continue with poor targeting, time-consuming manual research, unrecognized preferred channel of communication, and an unorganized sales outreach process. Most sales organizations struggle to forecast their sales pipeline or predict revenue. They are unable to decide what works for their organization.

Sales play replaces guesswork with guided selling to identify the next best action for sales reps. It's a repeated offering that helps sales teams to sell a product or service within a predetermined time period. It ensures precise changes ahead of results to ensure consistent growth. It helps streamline consistent gains and sales growth throughout the B2B sales cycle. The three ingredients to a successful sales play recipe are as follows:

  • Sales plays are specific to time
  • Sales plays are focused on outcomes
  • Sales plays form a complete toolbox

In this blog, we’ll cover the following aspects of effective growth through sales playbooks:

  • What is sales playbook framework?
  • Why do modern sales teams need a playbook?
  • Components of the sales playbook template
  • Write your own Sales Playbook
  • How can you evaluate your sales playbook
  • Best practices for best sales playbook framework

What is sales playbook framework?

Sales Playbook Facts

Source: TAS Group

A sales playbook guides the sales team operations and outlines the strategy to convert opportunities into close deals. It provides an overview of every stage of the sales process with industry-level data, ideal customer profile, buyer persona, value proposition, sales techniques, email templates, call scripts, and much more. The primary focus of a sales playbook framework is to advance opportunities throughout the sales process based on different sales situations. It also comes in handy while onboarding new sales reps. It structures the sales process from lead to opportunities and finally revenue generation.

Why do Modern Sales Teams Need a Playbook?

The art and science of sales has been evolving, but the pandemic has quickened the pace of transformation. Sales reps are responsible as strategic relationship builders who understand customer needs with empathy and insights. Sales teams are also growing increasingly strategic, removing ambiguity from the future. Sales playbooks help modern sales solve the following problems:

  • Time-consuming onboarding and training

  • Salesforce research has observed that sales ops is 85% increasingly strategic. Without a structured process, revenue generation works on guesswork. Even onboarding new sales reps takes longer and is more prone to making mistakes. Shadowing wastes time, making it challenging to reach sales quotas for both sales reps. Sales playbook helps you structure the sales process through modern onboarding and training techniques.

  • Ever-increasing demand for high-volume prospecting

  • Sales reps manually research prospects through numerous sources like emails, the internet, social media, and other channels. Salesforce reports sales reps to spend 30% of their time searching for shareable content with prospects. Finding the right channel for communication becomes a tedious task. Playbook sales techniques simplify identifying channels by encouraging sales reps to work with data insights.

  • Lack of visibility and unpredictable sales pipeline

  • An unpredictable sales pipeline leads to chaos and unorganized prospect distribution. Research by Harvard Business Review concludes that companies with effective pipeline management had a 15% higher growth rate. Sales playbooks help define play-by-play processes that can guide sales reps through the sales cycle to use proven, tried, and tested techniques.

An effective sales playbook aligns sales to core business objectives. It guides reps to identify the team's most effective tactics by crowdsourcing. For example, if a sales rep discovers that a particular email cadence or a workflow has consistently failed or moved deals forward, it can be added to the playbook for the entire team. The ultimate goal of a sales playbook is to maximize efficiency, deliver quality, and power up the revenue engine. But what forms a sales playbook?

Components of the Sales Playbook Template

Before creating a sales playbook it is essential to outline the objectives and goals for sales reps. You must ensure the communication aligns with the product or service, buyer persona, and market presence. A well-defined sales playbook will highlight the gaps in sales enablement and suggest new assets to keep the sales cycle moving. There can be 15 components to a sales playbook template; they are as follows:

  1. Company Overview

  2. Your sales team must know how their role can contribute to other teams to ensure they never miss an opportunity to collaborate and leverage mutual expertise. For example, a sales rep is most likely to connect with all customers; they can help in building the ideal customer profile. A company overview aligns the sales team to the larger organization.

  3. Team Structure

  4. Sales teams must be aware of the entire team structure to ensure transparency and accountability. You can create a flowchart like the following to define points of contact for common queries and feedback.

    Team Structuring
  5. Positioning & Language

  6. Listing out the core benefits of your product or service and reasoning why purchase will help sales reps connect with prospects. They can focus on the pain points and explain how your solution will add value. A clear value proposition is essential to reach the first touchpoint for prospects. It encourages them to move forward in the sales journey.

  7. Product Overview

  8. A sales playbook should include the different ways customers can use your product or service. A product overview includes what your product can do and why the features matter. It should have a feature-benefit framework. For example, if the product overview explains how APIs can uplift your product performance, your sales rep should have enough technical knowledge to understand. Instead, the product overview can mention the value-added features through integrations.

  9. Key Differentiators

  10. Understand your competitive advantage and mention it in your sales playbook. Explaining the key differentiating can provide a compelling argument to sales reps when talking to prospects. To further simplify the conversation for sales reps, you can list the primary competitors and highlight the differences that they should discuss.

  11. Buyer Persona

  12. Include the ideal customer profile in your sales playbook for efficient lead qualification. List their role, level at the organization, decision-making capabilities, company size, company type, and other similar details to identify their pain points and motivations.

  13. Use Cases

  14. Use cases help sales reps discuss all the possible capabilities of your product. It helps sales reps turn prospects' challenges and pain points into opportunities. Each use case could be supported by real case studies from your existing customers.

  15. Sales Approach

  16. To maintain consistency throughout the sales team, you must define the sales methodology in your playbook. All sales reps within the team will be on the same page, providing a consistent customer experience and simplifying scaling your team.

  17. Sales Plays

  18. Sales plays can include a consolidated experience from your existing sales team for insights into the techniques that work based on the customer type or situation. Instead of adopting the trial and error approach, new sales reps can quickly respond using sales plays. It will work as a step-by-step guide for sales reps to move forward.

  19. Sources of Leads

  20. Helping sales reps know the source of leads can enable personalized interaction. The source can define if they are sales-ready. You can further identify prospects' intent coming from the different resources. For example, a lead from the Capterra listing may have a higher probability to buy than the one from a blog post.

  21. Sales Process

  22. The sales process describes every step from lead generation to deal closure. A well-defined sales process equips sales reps to identify the different milestones within the sales journey. It maps out the various stages of the sales cycle so that your sales team focuses on actions and not principles. It defines clear objectives to ensure sales reps continue progressing towards closing more deals.

    Sales Process
  23. Sales Handbooks

  24. Resources, including email templates, call scripts, case studies, and more, can boost the response time of sales reps. Organizations that ensure a quick response within the first hour are 7 times more likely to qualify leads. Using the library of content across the different sales process stages will help sales reps sort through quickly.

  25. Sales Pitch Deck

  26. Sales pitch deck works as an opportunity to present your product and company at length. Ensure that the pitch deck is visually appealing, engaging, and encouraging prospects to convert into customers. You must have talk tracks or video recordings of the best approach for each pitch deck. It helps sales reps to improve their presentation and maximize results.

  27. Objection Handling

  28. Predefining the common sales objections prepare your sales reps to turn them into positive experiences. Being proactive with objections can help in avoiding stagnant sales journeys. Addressing objections in your sales playbook ensures that they don’t turn into roadblocks.

  29. Sales Slack

  30. Creating a sales stack is essential to uplift the performance of sales reps. With the prominence of remote selling, it has become more important ever to keep your sales team technologically equipped. Identify all the tools, apps, and software that can help them maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales process.

Write your own Sales Playbook

The above section has covered the primary elements in a sales playbook. However, a lot goes when it comes to writing a sales playbook. The steps involved in writing a successful playbook can be outlined as follows:

Step 1: Outline Goals

Defining the goals you hope to achieve from your playbook is important as it sets the tempo for all that you have to do to get it right. The next steps of writing your sales playbook depend largely on your goals. Try to create specific goals in terms of specific challenges being faced by the reps to be addressed. The focus should be on solving complex and major challenges to improve the sales process and buyer journey.

Step 2: Identify key people

Having defined the goals, the next step is identifying key people who can help meet the objectives of the playbook. Key people can include sales reps, account managers, and other such people who are directly involved in the sales process. It is important to involve these people while writing the playbook to get their valuable insights based on prospect interactions.

Step 3: Revisit Sales Process and Persona

The sales process and buyer personas are revisited after getting key people involved. It is important to revisit and revise based on the insights gained to stay updated with what the prospects are looking for. The sales reps are required to gain a deep understanding of the sales process to convert deals effectively. They should also be thorough with the buyer personas to understand the needs and pain points of the prospects.

Step 4: Align Sales and Marketing Teams

The updated sales process and personas are conveyed to the marketing team. It helps align the sales and marketing team. It also leads to integration in the positioning and messaging of your product to what the sales reps are conveying in actual prospect interactions.

Step 5: Update Sales Enablement Materials

Sales enablement materials include call scripts, email templates, case studies, slide decks, etc. The sales enablement materials are extremely crucial when comes to making a sale. It should be updated keeping in mind the revised sales process and messaging.

Step 6: Choose the Sales Plays

Once everything is updated, the next step is to choose the sales plays you want to include in your playbook. The plays you choose would depend upon factors like which part of the sales process needs to be improved, your buyer persona, or areas where the sales reps require support.

Step 7: Implement and Evaluate

It is now time to implement your playbook and convey it across departments. Make sure that you evaluate your sales playbook from time to time to track performance and progress. Read on to learn how you can evaluate your playbook.

How can you Evaluate your Sales Playbook?

Sales Playbook

Updating your sales playbook with the changing trends in sales is an ongoing process. To ensure it works as a handy guide for your sales reps even while being refined consistently, you need to confirm your sales playbook qualifies the following points.

  • Identifying strengths & drawbacks

  • You can identify the most utilized playbook components and those that remain stagnant based on the usage data. It helps in filling in the gaps on time. You can track sales performance against sales playbook engagement.

  • Acquiring sales playbook reviews

  • Perform in-depth audits to ensure your playbook content is relevant and working for the benefit of your organization. Ensure you acquire consistent reviews of playbook performance like any sales report to maintain a positive customer experience.

  • Internal feedback loop

  • An internal feedback loop can help sales reps use the sales playbook to provide real-time feedback. They can recommend ways to improve performance based on their experience. You can identify challenges individually and suggest solutions on time.

  • Customer feedback

  • Without customer feedback, you can’t have a customer-centric sales playbook. Conduct surveys to consolidate input and compare the information to enhance customer experience.

Since sales reps are direct users of the sales playbook, they must be in the loop with all the changes, updates, and enhancements. You must maintain transparency within your sales team.

Best Practices for Best Sales Playbook Framework

Sales playbook is a step-by-step guide for sales reps to refer to at any sales cycle stage. It can help you leverage strengths, differentiate from competitors, provide value, and improve your deal closure ratio. The five key takeaways from this blog to get started with building your sales playbook framework are as follows:

  1. Define clear sales methodologies
  2. Map the sales process to the purchase process
  3. Create simple, easy-to-use plays
  4. Harness the knowledge of best performers
  5. Keep it short and to the point

Sales playbooks are your go-to guide to boost acquisition, improve retention, and accelerate your sales outreach. Eliminate the guesswork from your sales forecasting and get started with making revenue a predictable process.

Richa Sharma
Content Marketer
Richa Sharma
Content Marketer
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