Why You Need a Sales Playbook Pronto

While the recent ramp-up in business activity has been a positive for companies over the past year, sales teams today find themselves pulled in several directions all at once. We see new initiatives implemented to meet the demands of our new reality – these range from introducing new digital marketing channels and streamlining delivery and service operations, to redefining and optimizing business processes.

While these changes are necessary for continued success, they come with less-than-desirable consequences for sales teams when not well-managed.

Potential issues include:
• Newer team members who are lost and take longer to ramp up to their positions, as they struggle to locate hard-to-find information.
• Unclear expectations for tenured salespeople as they perceive continually changing goalposts.
• Clients who are confused by different – and conflicting – messaging they get about offerings and value propositions.
• Businesses that fail to meet forecasts, due to changing revenue projections without a consistent methodology to back up the numbers

What a Playbook Must Contain

We find that having a clearly-documented set of operating guidelines for sales is not just beneficial, but has become essential to succeed today. A “Sales Playbook” is just that – a go-to manual for the team to align on core objectives, goals, methods employed, and necessary tools.

This Playbook goes well beyond call scripts and sell sheets, and equips the sales teams at all levels of the organization with the necessary tools to be successful.

For a team that does not have a Playbook, now is a great time to establish one. But how can (and should) one be developed?

At a minimum, we believe there are 5 areas a Sales Playbook must cover:
1. Value proposition and messaging
2. Your sales process and team structure – including roles and responsibilities at each stage
3. Key metrics, quotas, and performance measurement criteria
4. Ideal client profiles (ICP), buyer personas, plays for each type and segment
5. Tools to succeed – CRM (customer relationship management), lead generation, videos, and other supporting materials

Playbooks are highly customized to a particular business and market environment. They also must include a mix of both high-level guidelines and specific play-by-play processes.

Implementation Tips for Leaders

Playbooks are not new. When our ECS team recently polled a team of Senior Sales Executives at mid-sized companies, the war stories poured out.

We learned that Playbooks had not worked for many of these leaders in the past, even with the enormous time and resources invested in their development. We heard examples of top management driving change without getting buy-in from the ranks, and even when the Playbooks were developed, they sat, collecting dust until they became outdated.

There are several takeaways from these experiences that we feel are necessary to have successful implementation and results:

Make all content sales team-friendly. All materials should be simple to understand, easily accessible, and ready to implement.

Make the playbook a living document that is reviewed at a set frequency. Seek input across the board, including account executives, sales development reps, new business development reps, sales operations team, and your marketing team.

Incorporate it into your onboarding process and coaching sessions. This also allows you to get feedback to make the document more useful and practical.

Digitize all content. Not only does digitizing the content make it accessible across multiple platforms, this also allows you to update the document easily. We find that uploading the Playbook into your CRM system is a best practice.

Start with the basics and build up. Not everything needs to be in the Playbook on Day 1 of implementation. Allow it to evolve as you and your team become more comfortable using it.

Ready to get started?

If we have convinced you to start looking into developing your own Playbook, please let us know. We would be happy to share our insights and answer any questions that you might have.

However, we also know how tight your time is right now, and understand you would rather be out selling. ECS has sales experts who will work collaboratively with your team and pull together all the necessary information and deliver a final product that will get you results. Email the ECS team at hello@thinkempirical.com or give us a call at 610-994-1139.

This blog was penned by Ajay Joshi, ECS Sales Operations Partner. Be sure to connect with Ajay on LinkedIn.