We all agree that sales is a challenging game to play. The only way to win this game is by playing it smartly. We are aware of the difficulties in winning a sale, but the question is what are we doing about it. Just yelling at your sales rep for not performing or being disappointed with a new hire who is struggling to understand your sales process won’t help in increasing your sales. Instead, why don’t you take a wiser step and create a sales playbook? Show your new hires how is the game played and reveal some secret tactics to win the sales to your experienced players.
Sales Playbook explained
Sales Playbook is your sales GPS that shows you the way to sales success. Before I go any further, let me briefly explain what sales playbook is, and how can it help sales reps.
It is a collection of useful sales materials that clearly define the sales process and methodology, outlines roles and responsibilities, details selling tactics and techniques, and provides a systematic framework for closing deals.
A sales playbook-
- Keeps the sales team on track
- Helps managers to coach efficiently
- Highlights the practices that the best sales reps are using to excel at each stage of the sales process
- Gives sales reps a better understanding of what they are selling and whom they are selling to
- It eliminates ambiguity, confusion and missteps
- Defines a clear structure for improving sales performance
- Lays basic step and strategies to complete a sales cycle successfully
- Acts as a coaching tool to get the new hires up to speed quickly
A sales playbook needs extensive research and efforts. Do your homework well before creating the sales playbook:
1. Establish your vision and mission
A sales playbook cannot begin till you don’t understand the vision and mission of your company. Here, you need to be precise and honest; you cannot just bluff anything. Tap the cabin of the CEO and try to understand what is your company’s objective, core values, and mission. Gain knowledge about where do your company aim to reach in the coming years.
Incorporate these mission, vision and core values in your sales playbook, so the sales reps get a clear understanding of the objective of your company and work with unwavering determination to achieve it. Your sales reps should be able to convey your core values while communicating with the clients. This will help in creating a good image of your company.
2. Identify best practices of top sales rep
As a leader, you need to be aware of your sales team capabilities; this helps in accentuating the positives and mitigating the weaknesses. Spot the best performers and take a closer look at their practices. Understand what are they trying to do to excel.
Analyze the buying process to identify the success factors of your best performers. Try to track their outbound activities; a sales CRM can help you in this. With a CRM, you can even get insightful sales reports on the past sales information. This can help you in identifying the most effective steps taken by the best performing sales reps.
3. Assess the current sales scenario
Commence by understanding the present sales scenario and identify the gaps by reviewing current materials, tools and customer research. Analyze the present state of profitability. However, remember that you don’t only need to focus on the best sales practices but also on the customer purchasing model.
Try to understand-
- How do customers prefer to buy?
- What source of information do they rely on?
- How long do they take to make a purchasing decision?
- What are the factors driving a purchasing decision?
- Are the customers satisfied with the product?
Including customers in your research is the best way to find out what they expect and what do you need to do to meet their expectation because ultimately it is all about your ‘customers’.
4. Go through the sales objections
This is the main area of attention where mostly a company loses a deal. So, you need to discuss with your team to discover the objections they face. List the most common ones and try to find a solution to deal with them. See how your best players are dealing with these objections.
Conduct a mock calling session with these strong players and record it for the rest of the members of your team. Once your sales team know the tactics, they will be able to handle the objections of the reluctant clients.
5. Identify the process for improvement
Evaluate your sales process and map out the key steps of the sales process. Outline the entire decision path and identify the areas for improvement. Instead of just simplifying your current process, try to develop a different and more effective process. Describe it clearly through a flowchart so that your sales team can easily understand and adapt it for achieving positive sales results.
Creating a sales playbook
Once you gather the necessary information, it is time to create your sales book for leveling up your sales game. Below I have mentioned the sales playbook template that will be your guide while creating your own for your sales team.
1. Summary of the company
In this section, you need to provide details about your company by stating its history and timeline. Provide the corporate structure and hierarchy with the vision and mission as well as key goals of the company. Being a sales driven organization, you need to mention all aspects of sales like-
- How sales functions in the organization?
- What is the structure?
- How many sales teams does your company have?
- Who are leading the teams?
- Which territories are they handling?
- What are the targets given to each sales team?
- What are the incentives on the achievement of the targets?
This will help the new hire in understanding your company structure and goals so they can prepare themselves to help in achieving your company’s vision and mission.
2. Products you offer
In this section, you need to mention all the products or services with their detailed information. It should cover-
- Product description and its purpose
- Its core features
- Product use cases
- Pricing structure
- USP of the product (explain how are you better from the competitors)
- Details about the buyers and end users
The sales reps need to have a thorough understanding of the product as they are the face of the company and they cannot go blank when a customer asks a product related question. This might affect the image of the company. So, ensure you have covered all the details of your product in this section. When your sales reps understand the product, then only they will be able to present it as a solution for helping customers overcome their issues. So, pay special attention to this section of your sales playbook.
3. Sales process
This is the most crucial section of the sales playbook. Every step from the initial contact to the final closing stage of the sales process should be explained in detail here.
Define each stage of the sales process like-
- What are the stages of the sales process?
- What steps and actions do you need to perform at each stage?
- Who all are involved?
- What sales tools are needed at each stage?
- What are the objectives and outcomes of each stage?
Your sales process needs to be flexible enough to accommodate extreme situations like the fluctuation in buying trends or changing market conditions. An effective sales process can help in improving the profit margins. So, ensure that you have a well-defined sales process.
4. Buyer Persona
In this section, you need to define your ideal customers. A buyer persona includes every detail from the demographics information to key performance indicators as well as career history.
Create a detailed description of –
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What are their demographics and firmographics?
- What are their challenges and business pain points?
- What are their goals and what hindrances they are facing in reaching those goals?
- What is their decision criteria?
- What are the possible barriers that might affect their purchasing decision?
- How will they benefit from your product?
By defining your ideal customers, you can save time and attract right leads. According to Mark W. Schaefer, three to four buyer personas usually account for over 90% of a company’s sales.
5. Competitive analysis
Here you need to evaluate your competitors and list every detail about them.
- Who are your competitors?
- What products or services do they offer?
- What is each competitor’s market share?
- What is their selling process?
- How does their growth pattern look like?
- What kind of content are they generating? (like blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, case studies, etc)
- What type of keywords are they using?
- What are their past and current strategies?
- What sales tools are they using?
- What is their USP?
- What are their weaknesses?
Competitive analysis is necessary to move a step ahead of your competitors. It is important to mention every detail about your competitors in your sales playbook so that your new, as well as existing sales reps can showcase your competitive advantage while interacting with the clients.
6. Why choose us (value propositions)
In this section, you need to define your value propositions. Paint a clear picture of what makes you valuable. Describe in detail why should a customer buy from you.
- How your product solves the customer’s business challenges and pain points?
- What are the benefits of your product?
- How are you better from your competitors?
- What are the unique features of your products?
Value propositions are strong points that can influence a buying decision. So, it is necessary that your sales team is aware of your company’s value propositions. Take time and provide proofs of being better than your competitors.
For example: Macy’s Inc uses numbers to validate their claim of being the nation’s premier retailers
7. Why use a CRM?
In this section explain how can a CRM help in managing your sales process. State the features, benefits, and reasons for using the CRM.
- How to use a CRM dashboard
- How to create sales pipeline and add, edit or rename stages
- How to create and analyze reports
- How to set workflows and automate processes
- How to assign tasks and schedule appointments
- How to add tags and customize fields
Most of the companies invest in a CRM, but their sales reps do not use this smart sales application. To ensure your sales reps make the most of this investment, explain its features and benefits in the sales playbook.
8. Countering objections
In this section, state the most common objections and provide specific instructions to deal with them.
- Hear the sales call recordings and create a list of objections (you can even do this while interacting with the clients)
- Find out the solutions to tackle the objections
- Research and identify the techniques and strategies to tackle the common sales objections
As I mentioned above, this is a crucial stage of a sales process. To avoid this and make things easier for your sales rep, clearly, explain the ways to tackle an objection and save a deal.
9. Best practices
Analyze your past sales records and make a note of what worked and what didn’t.
- Create a list of proven strategies and techniques
- Mention in what circumstance to use them
- Give an example of your top sales rep and explain how did they use the strategies and techniques to win the deal
Keep an eye on the star performer to capture their best practices and mention it in the sales playbook that it can even help the rest of the team members in improving their performance.
Don’t forget to update your sales playbook
Your work doesn’t end by creating a sales playbook; you need to update it on a regular basis. Your competitors keep innovating to put their best foot forward, so you need to keep thinking of new tactics and strategies to be the frontrunner. Moreover, when you develop a new case study or upgrade any feature in your product, it is necessary to mention it in your sales playbook.
A sales playbook can help to improve the bottom line of your business, so ensure you make the most of it. Do not create and abandon it. Update and use it to get the best sales results. Creating a sales playbook might seem like a cumbersome task, but it is worth the efforts as it can positively impact the bottom line of your business. Introduce it to your new hires to teach them the best sales practices and ask your existing sales reps to refer it for improving their performance.
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