Do you have an effective sales playbook? A playbook acts as a reference manual for onboarding new sales reps and covers key areas for ongoing sales training. But a sales playbook also has a more important function – it codifies a sales process that is conducive to scalable, repeatable and predictable sales.
Because of this, best-in-class companies are almost twice as likely to to have a sales playbook. Each time a new sales rep joins your team, you can hand them a copy of your playbook and know they will learn your team’s most effective selling methods. A playbook isn’t a substitution for training, but it significantly speeds up the onboarding process and helps your team grow with ease.
If your sales team doesn’t have a playbook yet, or the existing one is just a thin guide with very little information, it’s time for a change. Here are the key chapters you must include in your team’s sales playbook.
1. Intro to the Business and Sales Organization
At the very beginning of the playbook, you should introduce new reps to the company overall, with the basic information they need to know. This includes:
- Company Strategy – What is the corporate strategy, and what is the sales team’s part in that strategy?
- Mission and Vision – What are your goals as an organization? Who are your target customers? Where will you be in five years? These are key questions that can be answered by simple and clear Mission and Vision statements. Reps should memorize the mission statement specifically, as it can become a key part of their sales pitch.
- Company Organization Chart – For a new rep, it’s important to know who reports to whom and get a picture of the overall organization. A simple chart will help the rep get to know names, titles and start to understand the company.
- Office Rules – This basic information is very helpful for new reps, so they won’t break the sometimes-unspoken rules of the office. Be transparent, and lay out helpful tips for new reps, including how to book conference rooms, HR guidelines and more.
- Training Schedule – List the exact training schedule new reps will go through – who they will meet with, what they will do on their first day, first week, etc.
2. Sales Team Roles & Responsibilities
Your playbook should include details about each sales rep’s personal responsibilities on the sales team – for SDRs (Sales Development Reps), lay out the activity expectations, and for ISRs (Inside Sales Reps), explain the quota assignment process in detail. This will help each rep understand how their job will look on a day-to-day basis, and prepare to fulfill high expectations.
3. Understanding Your Buyer Personas and Buyer Journey
Sales reps have to get inside the buyer’s head to sell, and the first step is understanding your company’s ideal buyer personas. Every sales organization has a different focus, so if your company targets CEOs at small companies in the tech industry, this is information your reps need to know. You must outline the typical buyer’s journey, including the steps buyers take to research and then buy the product.
4. Time Management & Structuring Your Day
Time management is a vital skill for sales reps, and a comprehensive sales playbook includes advice on making the most of the day based on what works at your company. This chapter should include scheduled times for specific activities, as well as practical tips for getting the most out of sales calls, staying organized throughout the day, and prioritizing high-quality leads (possibly based on a lead score). The last point is important because reps cannot waste too much time on leads that are going nowhere or else they’ll never see success.
5. Our Products and Pricing
Sales reps have to know the product offerings, SKUs and price points for each product backwards and forwards. They also have to understand the key value proposition for each product, to better sell according to each customer’s needs and business pain. Direct new reps to memorize this section of the playbook, maybe even giving a quiz to see how well they’re learning.
6. Sales Process and Planning
New sales reps need clarity and guidance on your sales process and the workflow in which they qualify opportunities and sell. You must spell that out step-by-step with a Sales Process Map and flow charts to back it up and detailed explanation of each stage. This chapter should also cover the following areas, among others:
- Sales Process with a Flow Chart
- Call Methodology
- Elevator pitch, Value Proposition Statement and Messaging
- How To Conduct a Discovery Call
- Pre-Call Checklist and Call Planning
- Qualification Questions
- Suggested Conversation Flow
- Call and Email Scripts
- Sound Bytes
- Objection Handling
7. Using the CRM
Every sales rep has to be trained on the way your company uses CRM, whether they’ve used it before or not. Many sales teams have different expectations for CRM usage, and you have to be clear about the process you expect your team to follow. Here are some examples:
- Explain your Lead Statuses, Sales Statuses, Opportunity Stages, etc. – This should include a step-by-step explanation of how to track leads, input data in the right fields, when to change lead status, when to convert leads to accounts, why your team uses specific opp stages, and more.
- Fields Required for Forecasting – Explain how the constant data input from the CRM goes into creating accurate sales forecasts each month, and how each rep will be assigned their quota.
- Using Sales Analytics and Reports – Does your team use any analytics software to track sales results and activity in the CRM? If so, you have to outline expectations and explain how to use the software to each rep.
- Using Activities vs. Tasks – Show reps the difference between a task, an action sales rep are supposed to complete, and an activity, the actions sales reps actually complete. This helps managers keep track of activity levels.
- There many other examples of what can be added here: lead/account ownership rules, data entry requirements, updates to fields, tracking, etc.
8. Commissions & Incentives
You want all your reps to know exactly how they are getting paid and it’s important to keep your commission structure simple. If the plan is confusing or changes often, you should create a guide to help clarify what new reps should expect. You can also include an advancement plan, outlining how sales reps can move up within the company by achieving specific goals over time. Write it all out in the playbook and make it easy to understand – with the right commission and goals, your new reps will succeed and sell the way you want them to.
9. Our Selling System
Most sales teams follow a specific sales system, and they will use these guidelines on every call. You should include your team’s chosen selling system – whether Sandler, Challenger, Solution Selling, or another – in the playbook. Lay out the values and selling best practices of this system for your reps to reference easily in the coming months.
10. Measuring Sales Activities and Results
What sales metrics are each of your reps responsible for? On an effective metrics-focused sales team, this is often the end-game for sales reps each month or quarter. For SDRs, ensure that they know they have to hit activity levels, calls dialed, or meetings sourced for specific time periods. For ISRs, make sure they understand their overall sales goals, and how their performance will be measured in the coming months.
As your sales team grows, you’ll be glad you took the time and put in the effort to write a sales playbook. The writing process can take as much as 3 months, so you may even consider outsourcing this to professionals like Trish Bertuzzi’s “The Bridge Group”. With a sales playbook, there should be no secret to your sales team’s success – you offer every new sales rep transparent, detailed information to give them the chance to succeed. With these chapters in mind, it’s time to write your own team’s sales playbook and experience the benefits of repeatable success.