A Framework and Template for Creating Your Sales Playbook

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September 23rd, 2020.
A Framework and Template for Creating Your Sales Playbook

Want to improve productivity across your sales team, standardize best practices, reduce ramp-up time, and make your salespeople more autonomous?

Create a sales playbook.

In this guide, we'll talk about what a sales playbook is, how to create one, plays to consider running, as well as introduce you to a template to help you throughout the process. Let's get started.

A sales playbook might also include sample emails and scripts to guide reps through all parts of the buyer's journey and actions like demos, lead qualification, negotiation, and more.

Use a Sales Playbooks Tool — that connects to your CRM — that arms your sales team with competitive battle cards, call scripts, positioning guides, and more.

Benefits of a Sales Playbook

Although crafting a sales playbook can be a time-consuming process, it's worth it — you’ll start seeing results almost instantly. With a sales playbook, you can...

Make new hire training quicker and easier.

First, training new salespeople is far quicker and easier when you have clear, explicit explanations of who your customers are, how they buy your products, their pain points, what to say to them, and more. Without a sales playbook, your reps are forced to learn this information ad hoc.

Free up valuable time for reps.

Second, a playbook frees up time for selling. Sales reps spend 40% of their time searching for or creating content.

Rather than having each rep develop their own messaging, questions, and resources to use with prospects, give them ready-made content — a.k.a, focus on sales enablement. This will allow your reps more time for selling.

Surface the most-effective selling techniques.

Third, a playbook helps you disseminate the most effective techniques being used on your team. For instance, if you notice one rep having success with a specific outreach method, you can share it easily with the entire team by putting it in the playbook.

Speaking of surfacing your best techniques, a sales playbook also highlights and shares your most-effective sales plays for specific scenarios.

Sales Plays to Consider Running

Sales plays are unique to your specific company and goals, but here are some examples of plays that you may choose to create playbooks for:

  • Personalized content play: Focus the playbook on how reps can personalize and tailor the buyer's journey to specific leads and prospects through their interactions and the content they share.
  • Lead qualification play: Focus the playbook on how reps can efficiently identify highly-qualified leads to reach out to. 
  • Demo play: For the playbook on how reps can effectively demo specific products, and even features, to their prospects.
  • Use case play: Focus the playbook on a specific use case that many members of your target audience experience.
  • Prospecting play: Focus the play on how reps can prospect on a certain platform or channel, or specific tactics they can follow to identify ideal prospects. 
  • Closing play: Focus the play on how reps can move a lead who's late in the buyer's journey into the closing phase in a way that feels natural, professional, and effective.
  • Follow-up play: Focus the playbook on how when reps can follow up with leads at different points in the buyer's journey.

Next, let's talk about how you can write your own sales playbook.

How to Write a Sales Playbook

Your sales playbook is unique to your business — however, the following steps for creating your playbook are applicable to nearly any business's sales team.

1. Review (and, if necessary, update) your sales process.

Since your sales playbook is a part of your sales process, you want it to fit in seamlessly. And your sales process should be analyzed frequently to ensure it's updated in a way that complements: your current goals, the way your reps sell, your latest products and features, your buyer personas, and more. This is why the first step of sales playbook creation is to review your current sales process.

2. Outline your sales playbook goals.

Next, outline your sales playbook goals. These goals may revolve around questions like the following:

  • What does the playbook need to include?
  • Which specific aspects of the buyer's journey and sales process need to be touched on?
  • What are reps struggling with that can be explained in the playbook? (For example, if your reps are struggling with qualification, your sales playbook may include qualification sample questions, qualification framework, and common-fit indicators.)
  • What do you hope to get out of the playbook?
  • When should the playbook be finalized?

Make your playbook goals specific — reps will be more likely to adopt a short, focused, and relevant playbook over a long, complex, multi-faceted one.

For example, if your biggest priority is improving product demo quality, your playbook should cover presentation strategies and structure, various value propositions linked to your product’s features, and sample messaging.

3. Determine who should be involved in sales playbook creation the process.

Determine who should be involved in the sales playbook creation process so you can invite them to join collaborations.

The people and teams you'll likely want to be involved in the process include:

  • Sales reps
  • Sales VPs, directors, and managers
  • Marketing team members (specifically, marketers who work on content, product, and sales enablement materials)
  • Subject matter experts

This is also a good point in time to identify the sales playbook creation DRI(s) so other team members know who's leading the effort and who they can reach out to with questions and comments. 

4. Align your sales team with your marketing team.

And speaking of looping in certain individuals and teams, sales alignment with the marketing team is critical to the sales playbook creation process.

Your sales playbook, no matter its focus, is bound to need content, sales enablement materials, and educational information that reps can refer to and even share with prospects.

Also, by keeping the communication and collaboration lines between Sales and Marketing open, Sales can inform Marketing of what types of content and materials they need to streamline and enhance the selling process. And Marketing can reach out to Sales with information about their latest campaigns and content about new products or feature updates.

5. Collect your buyer persona information.

Reps must have a deep understanding of the business's buyer personas. That's because the purpose of your sales playbook is to help reps meet leads where they are. It's meant to help reps reach leads by supporting them through a specific part of the sales process.

Collect that information and share it with your reps so they're able to refer to it when applying and prepping the sales playbook (and while working through the rest of the sales process).

Note: As your business grows, product line expands, and base of customers includes more people, continually update your buyer personas as needed.

6. Provide product and feature training and education for reps.

This is critical step for all aspects of selling, not just the creation of your sales playbook — reps must understand the product they're selling inside and out.

No matter how good your sales playbook is, or what the playbook is about, your reps won't be able to apply it effectively unless they have a deep understanding of your product, its capabilities, and its features.

Think about ways to encourage and host this training as well as when your reps will undergo training. For example, you may have reps attend a training sessions with your company's product team. Or maybe your reps are required by sales managers to test out the product as a customer would. 

7. Audit and update your sales enablement materials and content.

Next, audit your existing sales enablement materials. In doing so, you'll be able to determine what already exists and can be used as is, or needs to be edited. You'll also be able to make note of which sales enablement materials need to be created (hence why we mentioned the importance of sales and marketing alignment).

8. Choose your plays.

There are a number of plays you can choose from when determining what the focus of your playbook will be. This is entirely dependent on factors like:

  • Which parts of the sales process your reps are getting hung up on and where they need support
  • What the product or service being sold is
  • Who your buyer personas are
  • What your overall sales goals are

9. Implement and share your sales playbook.

Now it's time to implement and share your finalized sales playbook. Reps should all have access to the playbook, as should sales managers, directors, and VPs. It may be helpful to share the finalized sales playbook with Marketing as well to continue collaboration and transparency between the two teams.

10. Analyze the success of your playbook.

Similar to everything else in business, you must analyze the success of your work. Once your sales playbook has been shared and used by reps, keep tabs on its relevance, success, and helpfulness.

Ask reps for their opinions on the playbook and its usefulness. For instance, you might conduct a survey to get feedback on the playbook. This way you can effectively update and edit the playbook as needed to ensure greater and/or continued success.

Next, let's talk about a resource that can help you with the entire sales playbook creation process — a playbook template.

Sales Playbook Template

free editable sales playbook template

Outline your company's sales strategy and playbook(s) with this free, customizable sales plan template.

A sales playbook template is a great way to ensure you create a playbook that's as effective as possible for your team. In this free, customizable template, you'll be able to work through your sales plan and playbook at the same time to ensure they're complementary.

free and downloadable sales plan and sales playbook template

Also, we mentioned how every business's sales playbook will be unique. However, here's an example of a template you can refer to no matter what type of business you work for or what your sales playbook goals are.

free Sales Playbook Template

Let's review the elements of this template.

1. Company Overview

Provide a company overview and dive into details about the sales organization. Include information about how the sales org is constructed, who manages each team, which targets reps and teams are expected to hit, goals, and so on.

2. Selected Plays

Identify which plays will be used for each playbook you create to clearly define the playbook's purpose for reps.

3. Product/Service Overview

Cover every product or service reps are responsible for selling. Mention price points, use cases, core value offerings, buyers, end users, and related industries or verticals.

You may choose to create one sales playbook for each product you sell if they're all fairly different, require radically separate buying processes, have different buyer personas, or are sold by different members of your sales team.

4. Sales Process

Explain each step of your sales process from first connect to close. You might just link to your sales process document here so reps and sales managers can easily refer to it.

5. Playbook KPIs and Goals

Which metrics do your company’s sales managers track most closely? Which should the salesperson be paying attention to? Are there any baseline numbers they should know about? To give you an idea, maybe you’ve found reps who make 50-plus calls per day are significantly more likely to hit quota.

6. Buyer Personas

Include your buyer personas so reps can quickly hone in on the most-qualified leads, and target their unique needs and challenges.

7. Lead Qualification Criteria

Include lead qualification criteria so reps can refer to it in tandem with buyer persona information. For instance, maybe a qualified lead at your company means the lead is ready to buy in the next three months, or already has sufficient budget to make a purchase.

Include expectations around prospecting and follow ups here too. Provide some guidelines around when to pursue opportunities and when to let them go.

8. Resources and Sales Enablement Materials

To create an effective sales playbook, you need to have ample resources and sales enablement materials for your reps. This requires a strong relationship between the sales and marketing, which you can define in this section. It also means education for reps about available resources and materials is necessary (e.g. case studies, product pages, social content, demo videos, CRM, sales software, sales technology, etc.). List those resources in this section too. 

Create and Use a Sales Playbook

As your sales process changes and improves, your product line expands or shrinks, your ideal customer shifts, your strategy evolves, or your sales compensation plan is tweaked, update your sales playbook accordingly. Refer to and use the steps we covered, and the template we provided, to help you along the way.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.