This post was updated on 01/23/2020.
The implementation of a sales playbook can be one of the most impactful initiatives for any sales organization. There are two reasons for this tremendous ROI. First, by following some simple guidelines, it can be a remarkably easy initiative to implement, and second, research shows that this results in 33% additional revenue.
Here are the 12 Elements of a great sales playbook that you should use to guide your implementation.
1. Repeatable Winning Sales Processes
The key word here is ‘repeatable’. When everyone adopts the same sales process, there is a common language that is understood, not just by sales, but by the whole organization. Recent research shows that while only 60% of sales teams have a sales process that is well defined, and well executed – those who do are 33% more likely to be High Performers*.
2. Customized to the Buying Cycle
Customers buy in lots of different ways; some purchases are guided by a single decision maker, while in other cases there can be a large buying committee. Some issue RFPs (health-warning!), others invite recognized suppliers to discuss their issues, an increasing number learn in the Social Universe, and just a few remain with the incumbent supplier trading ‘the devil you know’ for potentailly more advanced or competitive solutions. Unless you visualize the journey the customer wants to take, you won’t be with them when they reach their destination.
3. Sales Tools in Context at Each Stage
At each stage of the buying process, salespeople need to employ just the right tools – at the right time to advance the sale to the next stage in the process. A B2B sale is not a single event. In fact it is a collection of micro-sales events, each crafted to move closer to the eventual goal. Salespeople are busy and often don’t know which tool they need, where to find it or how to use it at the specific point in the micro-sale. Integrating sales tools into the playbook as part of the sales process is the solution.
4. Industry Sales Process Templates
It is widely accepted that tailoring your sales process to the specific needs of an industry will increase your chances for success. Third party industry sales templates are readily available from suppliers who have been tracking and analyzing millions of sales cycles. That is the catalyst you need to get started.
5. Many Simple and Complex Processes
One playbook or sales process does not fit all. Sometimes you are pursuing a brand new customer or a very large deal that demands a complex and sophisticated set of ‘plays’ to win the deal. In other cases, the transaction might be quick, one that suggests a diffferent rhythm. Your sales playbook should have the requisite intelligence to support that automatically and serve up the right playbook at the right time.
6. Process, Benchmarks and Insight
Benchmarking delivers many advantages for companies looking to improve the performance of their sales organization. Your playbook must capture those benefits, learn from them, and uncover inisghts that help you to drive your sales velocity. When deploying a playbook, ensure that you have built in a capability that guides you to progress through these stages of evolution for your sales team.
7. Team Visibility for the Sales Manager
Being a front-line sales manager is one of the hardest jobs in sales. It is also the critical link in sales. Unless the sales manager has with all the tools he or she needs to easily manage the business, the whole performance of the sales organization suffer. You need to provide them with the ‘Easy Button’. Sales playbooks are often designed just with the sales person in mind. Remember that the sales manager is the critical link.
8. Integrates with CRM System
This one should be a ‘no-brainer’. The playbook must integrate tightly with the CRM system so when the sales person works with an opportunity, the playbook will always be present, just where it needs to be. That way the playbook (if it is smart enough) can react to the attibutes of the opportunity, like the size of the deal, or the products included in the opportunity record to present the right playbook for that opportunity. Complete integration with your CRM delivers the optimum experience for the sales person, and provides sales managers with greater flexibility on how they view the data in the context of the rest of the business. It is important.
9. Informs Sales Forecast Visibility
Salespeople spend about 2.5 hours each week on sales forecasting, and for most companies, the accuracy of sales forecasts leave a lot to be desired. To maximize the impact of your sales playbook on the accuracy of your sales forecast, there are two things to consider. (1) Does the sales playbook incorporate intelligence that objectively monitors the close date of the sale? (2) Does the sales playbook provide the sales manager with insight into deal vulnerabilities and risks in the forecast?
10. Motivational and Visual
There are only two reasons why an individual does not complete a task. Either they do not have the competence, or they are not motivated enough to do it. Think about that – these are the only two reasons. Your sales playbook should improve competence and increase motivation. The competence piece is easily understood.
Motivation is a little more challenging. A study on What Motivates Sales People shows that, perhaps surprisingly for some, compensation is not the primary motivator. ‘Making Progress of Winning’ is ranked by sales people as the main reason they get up in the morning. To entice adoption of the sales playbook (rather than force compliance) your sales playbook needs to provide true value for the sales person – resolve that reward/effort equation, so that the salesperson gets more back from the playbook that they put into it.
11. Social and Collaborative
As B2B companies rely more heavily on social collaboration tools, some of the biggest gainers are going to be salespeople. Sales people who are the leaders in their organization are using social tools such as Chatter in Salesfore to improve collaboration in their own sales teams. Leading sales playbooks help by letting everyone ‘follow’ the plays, contributes to the conversation, and collaborate on the deal. The B2B world is constantly becoming more social and collaborative and you should ensure that your sales playbook accommodates this advancement.
12. Mobile and Cloud
Time is precious, and the sales person’s time is incredibly precious, both to them and to the sales organization looking to maximize the performance of their key quota-bearers. Since so much of a sales person’s time is spent moving between A and B and back again, they should be equipped with the mobility to connect to their sales playbook allowing them to be responsive, productive, collaborative and consistent at any time, wherever they are. In other applications, mobile and cloud capabilities are being leveraged to facilitate access anywhere, anytime. It must be the same with your sales playbook. Unless mobile and cloud are core elements of your sales playbook plan, the initiative could face severe challenges in a very short term.
If you really love this topic and want a deep dive on a great Sales Playbook and how it can accelerate your revenue growth, check out our on-demand webinar “Sales Success Playbook: Best Practices to Increase Deal Sizes, Shorten Sales Cycles, and Improve Forecasting”.