A sales playbook is a set of well defined and documented stages and activities across the sales cycle. A playbook helps you capture islands of successes within the organization and provides insights into what activities and what metrics are important to perform in order to get better results out of the same efforts put in by the sales team.

Every sales process should be tracked, modified and be bettered to bring in higher levels of efficiency in the team.

How do you build one?

Recollect the wins you and your team has had in the past, isolate the situations where you have won deals in-spite of heavy competitions and the situations where you have lost the deals in spite of being very sure that you would win the deal. You would have had star salespeople who would have performed exceptionally in-spite of going against your methods.  Note those traits and make a trend. Make a first cut version of the sales playbook based on the past successes and past failures.

Now, look at the existing sales team. Every salesperson comes in with different skills and you will find each one of them specializing in one stage better than the other. Map those successful traits and add those to the sales process.

What can the sales playbook have:

  • Sales Process

A Sales process is a set of structured steps that a sales team takes in moving a prospective buyer from the Prospecting stage all the way to the closure. The steps can be designed by the sales team based on past success and failures. You can find out the best traits that got you the sale. They could include what your team should say, what questions they should ask, how they should be selling at what stage of the sales cycle. The sales process will help us understand which stages of the sales cycle each of the prospects is, what should we be doing at each stage to each prospect and will help us move the prospects rapidly towards the buy button.

Having a set of structured steps to move a prospect from the initial stimuli stage to the buy button is a must have to increase productivity. #salesprocess Click To Tweet

  • Different Buyer Personas and how what problems can have we solved for each one of them

All buyers are not the same. You will have to earmark certain types of buyers based on their industries, the size of companies, the potential problems they might be facing (that your solution can solve), the sub-optimal solutions (Status quo or your competitor solutions), the issues they face because of the sub-optimal solutions. Based on this gap, we will have to come up with multiple situations and the multiple benefits we had given.

A successful sales process should map multiple buyer personas and should outline the benefits gained by all. #salesprocess Click To Tweet

  • Elevator pitch, Email templates, Call scripts

We will come to the next option in the playbook. How do we communicate this to the potential buyers? We will do that in a cold call, through cold emails, through face to face meetings, brochures, presentations, social media, etc. We would need to communicate all these aspects of the problems, solutions, benefits as efficiently as possible. This has to be conveyed in the short and in the best possible way. You or your company must have figured out the best way to convey those over the course of the few years. Why should your team reinvent those now after making mistakes? They can follow the best practices and win easily, can’t they?

  • Products / Capabilities / Differentiators

An overview of the products, solutions, capabilities of the selling firm. The sales team needs to understand what sort of industries these solutions will work for, what problems have these solved and how have the buyers benefited? This will help the sales team to quickly look into the way the organization or the solutions need to be positioned based on the buyer persona they are in touch with. This will increase the conversation to conversion ratio because they will sound extremely contextual to the buyers when they would speak to them.

Increase your conversation to the conversion ratio of your sales reps by documenting the products/capabilities/solutions capability in reference to a buyer persona. #salesplaybook Click To Tweet

  • Check-lists and Metrics across the sales cycle as Targets

The sales plan is done. The yearly revenue target needs to be broken down into smaller quarterly, monthly and weekly numbers. You now have a good sense of what you will need to cross as milestones both in terms of activities as well as in terms of results on a constant basis. Your Agile Weekly Reviews can now be laser focussed in terms of what the sales team has done for that week to achieve the short-term goals that have been set for them for the week.

A sales process mapped in a sales playbook will be efficient if it can be monitored constantly. Review the check-lists and metrics constantly. #salesplaybook Click To Tweet

  • Points to cover in the sales meetings, presentation and in the demo

Your superstars have been able to do certain things right in the sales process and that got them the deals. You will have to document all the right things that have been done in the past by your team across all the stages of the selling cycle. You can then train the team on the best practices that have made the sales a bit easier for you in the past. However, it does not mean that all the buyer situations can be handled with the same responses but it makes sense to know what has worked in the past. Minor tweaks can be made to suit the situation by the salesperson to make the best out it.

  • Questions to ask at each stage of the sales cycle

It also goes without saying that you have to ask a bit of question in the entire sales process to understand what the prospect has in their mind. This definitely cannot be asked at one instance in a series of questions. That might annoy the buyer because they would not know you that well enough to begin confessing. They might also go into their shell because of the pointed questions. Questions need to be asked in a subtle way and adequate training needs to be given to the sales team. This will help the sales team to understand the situations even with subtle responses.

  • Objection Handling and Negotiation techniques specific to the company

The entire sales cycle may be filled with objection handling. This is because the buyers are not necessarily aware of their problems and are not aware of the potential solutions. They might be living happily in their own world in their status quo thinking that they have solved the problem the best way. Alternately, they might not want to encourage dealing with an unknown vendor. The list could go on endless. So, the document should also have a list of standard objections coupled with the best possible responses that have worked in the past. This is also applicable to negotiation where you can come up with a standard list of what you can give in the negotiation and what you cannot give in the negotiation and to what levels you can give.

Standardize the scripts, conversations snippets in sales meetings, presentations, demonstrations, to handle objections and to negotiate. This will increase the productivity of the sales force. #salesplaybook Click To Tweet

Summary – Sales Playbook

A refined sales playbook, when implemented well, can lead to:

  • Predictable sales because of the best practices
  • Increased sales for the same effort put in by the sales team
  • Salespeople having the knowledge of what to do in each situation to help them be successful
  • Reduce the time taken to close (sales cycle length)
  • Ability scale your team immediately and get them to be productive
  • On-boarding and training cost and time reduces and becomes scientific

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