What is a sales playbook? It’s a series of documents that outline the most effective sales processes, tactics, strategies, and best practices to help sales representatives close more deals. Thanks to bringing together details about the buyer’s journey, stage-specific content, recommended sales engagement tactics and guided selling tools, a sales playbook makes the sales process scalable and repeatable

Chances are that your team has a sales manual that is full of training documentation. 

This resource is critical for onboarding new hires and getting reps up to speed. However, a training manual isn’t a substitute for a sales playbook. This resource has the purpose of helping your sales team improve their skills, knowledge, and understanding of the sales process, enabling them to adapt and respond effectively in diverse selling scenarios. 

The team playbook, on the other hand, is a set of strategic guidelines and best practices that are tailored to your company’s unique products, market position, and sales philosophy. 

It acts as a living document, constantly updated with the latest insights, customer feedback, and innovative selling techniques. 

In short, a sales playbook will ensure your sales team maintains consistency in their approach, which is crucial for streamlining workflows and establishing a repeatable sales process.

Here are some tips to help you put together this valuable resource and implement it. 

Elements of an Effective Sales Playbook

We have a brief definition at the top of this page, and we’ve talked about the difference between a training manual or SOPs and a playbook. But what IS a sales playbook? 

What exactly should it include? 

That depends on whom you ask, but here are the essential elements of a successful sales playbook:

  • Buyer personas with information about trends in the market or vertical that may impact decisions, typical pain points for this buyer, and the issues the buyer wants to resolve.
  • Details on the buyer’s journey and what a decision maker may do or search for during awareness, consideration, and decision stages.
  • A presentation or video that explains how sales representatives should talk about customers’ pain points and ways your product or services can address those issues.
  • Analysis of competitors and how your company’s offering compares.
  • Lead scoring guidelines or automated tools to qualify leads for sales.
  • Your sales process and how it aligns with the buying process. This area can include information about sales content to use at each buying stage, milestones to help sales reps judge where the decision maker is in the sales cycle, sales scripts, email templates, and how to use your available sales tech stack throughout the process.
  • A list of common objections and rebuttals. These will, no doubt, be considered in your scripts, but you may want to add a section specifically addressing these in detail.
  • Best practices and proven techniques. You could add information about your team’s sales methodology in this section.

Some companies may have one playbook, while others create a separate playbook for a new product, a specific campaign, or when targeting a new segment or vertical.

Hallmarks of an Effective Sales Playbook

As you can see from the section above, even a basic sales playbook contains a lot of information. Still, that doesn’t mean this resource should be overwhelming and packed with too many details that could confuse or deter your sales team rather than help them. 

Here are some characteristics of an actionable and successful sales playbook.

It’s Concise

Salespeople’s schedules are hectic, meaning that they don’t want or have time to read through 50+ pages to find an answer to a pressing question.

Keep your playbook focused on what’s pertinent. 

Move onboarding and training information to your sales manual.

It’s Customer-Ready

Buyers have a plethora of information at their fingertips with Google, social media, and review sites. 

For the most part, especially when it comes to B2B, they have already done their homework. They contact sales when they are ready or almost ready to buy. 

Your sales playbook should help sales representatives meet customers where they are from a knowledge standpoint.

Ensure your salespeople aren’t just rehashing all the content that buyers can already read on your site. Remember that your customers are already inundated with an overwhelming amount of information. 

When your reps repeat what the buyer already knows and add nothing new or valuable to consider, a decision maker’s purchase anxiety may increase, causing the deal to fall through. 

Your playbook should give reps access to independent information, analyst reports, news articles, customer stories, and other insights the buyer may not have seen when visiting your site.

Finally, your playbook should also provide thorough and validated messaging that resonates with customers. 

It’s a Living, Centralized Document

It’s critical to ensure your playbook doesn’t get stale. This important document must evolve to meet buyer needs and expectations, as well as your business goals and objectives. Review it regularly and welcome feedback from the team to help you update and optimize over time.

The sales playbook should also be accessible and centralized to ensure that all salespeople have access to the latest version. 

It’s User-Friendly

The characteristics above go a long way in making your sales playbook user-friendly, but you should still pay close attention to ensure that your team members can quickly and easily find the information they need.

Your playbook should also guide reps on the right content to use, suggest the most effective sales cadences, and set expectations regarding the follow-up frequency

Leave nothing to guesswork when it comes to following your process.

It’s Measurable

You could spend months creating this vital document and even spend a lot of money in the process. With that kind of investment, you must measure the effectiveness of your sales playbook. 

It’s essential to define the business results you want to attain so that your playbook has an objective before you start developing it.

Look at your metrics before the implementation of the playbook, and compare your sales data at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks. Is your playbook performing? Has your ROI increased? 

Use your post-implementation data to help you identify areas of improvement or adjustments needed in your playbook. 

This evaluation process allows you to pinpoint specific strategies or techniques that are working well and those that may require refinement. By continuously analyzing your sales metrics, you can make data-driven decisions to optimize the content of your sales playbook.

Why You Need a Sales Playbook

Do you need a sales playbook if you’re meeting your sales goals each quarter?  

Absolutely, unless you want to simply maintain the status quo without seizing the opportunity to expand your sales strategies and grow your business. A sales playbook is crucial for moving beyond current achievements, ensuring that your team doesn’t become complacent with meeting basic goals. 

When you take time to document and systematize everything required, you will be able to implement a repeatable sales process that you can automate using a sales engagement platform

In Conclusion

Leading a sales team is a challenging task, but having an effective sales playbook and a repeatable sales processcan make your job much easier. Use the tips we discussed to craft a playbook that not only aligns with your sales objectives but also resonates with your team’s needs and strengths.

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